Oleksandr Usyk fight in Jeddah will be a treat for Saudi Arabian boxing fans

Boxing - Mairis Briedis vs Oleksandr Usyk - World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight division semi-final - Arena Riga, Latvia - January 28, 2018. Mairis Briedis of Latvia in action with Oleksandr Usik of Ukraine. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Updated 04 February 2018

Oleksandr Usyk fight in Jeddah will be a treat for Saudi Arabian boxing fans

LONDON: In winning the toughest, highest-profile and most absorbing fight of his career on Saturday night, Ukraine’s outstanding Oleksandr Usyk became the first fighter to progress to the final of the cruiserweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) to be held in Saudi Arabia in May.
He may have been fighting for only the 14th time as a professional, but in outclassing Latvia’s Mairis Briedis in Riga, he added the WBC world title to his WBO belt, furthered his reputation as one of the world’s finest fighters, and perhaps even established himself as the greatest cruiserweight since Evander Holyfield. Fight fans in Saudi Arabia are in for a treat when he comes to town.
Russia’s Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos, of Cuba, will fight in Sochi on Saturday for the IBF and WBA titles and the chance to face Usyk in Jeddah. The winner of that will receive $10 million and be crowned the cruiserweight division’s first undisputed champion. Despite being tested by Briedis in a way that he never previously had, Usyk will be the overwhelming favorite.
Not since Holyfield’s two victories over Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1986 and 1987 had there been such an entertaining cruiserweight title fight as Usyk’s semifinal against Briedis, and neither has there been a champion so respected since David Haye in 2008.
When the 31-year-old Usyk fights the winner of Gassiev-Dorticos in May, he will not only be doing so for the sixth consecutive time outside of Ukraine, but will also be presented with the opportunity to hold all four of the 200lb world titles, something neither Holyfield nor Haye ever achieved.
The 200lb division has never previously been among boxing’s most glamorous but it has been boosted by the emergence of four high-quality WBSS semifinalists. Each of the competition’s final four arrived undefeated, at their peak and in possession of one of the division’s four world titles.
Usyk is the stand-out. He won Olympic gold at heavyweight at London 2012, and so natural is his talent that he is already being spoken of as a threat in the professional heavyweight division as a well as a potential challenger to Anthony Joshua should he succeed, as expected, in Jeddah. That the super-featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko, widely considered the world’s finest fighter, is a long-term friend and stablemate serves only to broadens his appeal. The two have fought on the same cards in the US, and, in the same way that proved effective with Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez, have often been billed as a double attraction on influential television network HBO.
Despite not securing the one-sided defeat of Briedis that had so widely been predicted — he won a majority points decision via accurate scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114 from the three judges — it was the Latvian’s reputation that was enhanced, and not Usyk’s undermined.
The suspicion remains that, for all of Briedis’ physical strength, punch resistance and desire, the Ukrainian could have won more convincingly had he chosen to use the full extent of his skills, but he instead relished the high-quality physical affair it became and also recognized that providing a more primal form of entertainment would enhance his popularity. When he could have defended himself amid the 33-year-old’s pressure, he remained relaxed, changed the angle at which he was fighting — similarly to Lomachenko, his remarkable relentlessness and mobility makes him so different from almost all of his potential rivals — and immediately fought back.
That he showed he could be hurt — as he did on more than one occasion, particularly in the 12th and final round — also challenges the perception the WBSS represents a victory procession for him and will increase Gassiev’s and Dorticos’ belief, given both possess power and are particularly dangerous early.
The retired Wladimir Klitschko had traveled to Riga to support Usyk, his compatriot, on the road to Jeddah, and now that he has succeeded will be expected to again follow him there in May. It could be quite a night.

World Boxing Super Series semifinal
Murat Gassiev (RUS) v Yunier Dorticos (CUB)
IBF and WBA cruiserweight titles
Feb. 3, Bolshoy Ice Dome, Sochi, Russia

World Boxing Super Series final
Oleksandr Usyk (UKR) v Murat Gassiev/Yunier Dorticos
WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles
May, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool to beware Bayern Munich ahead of Champions League clash

Updated 18 February 2019

Jurgen Klopp tells Liverpool to beware Bayern Munich ahead of Champions League clash

  • Reds boss worried about resurgent German giants ahead of second-round first-leg clash.
  • Bayern defender Joshua Kimmich claims Liverpool are the favorites.

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp has warned his Liverpool side they will have to be at their very best if they are to beat Bayern Munich.
The Reds head into the Champions League clash as slight favorites after months at the top of the Premier League. But having drawn the German giants in the second round, Klopp has told his players they have to keep their feet on the ground worthy could end up out of the competition before it really gets going.
“It’ll be very tough,” there Liverpool manager said.
“(Bayern are) only two points off Dortmund in the domestic league and have been consistent finalists and semifinalists.
“They’re a world class team but at the same time we’re confident we can cause them problems.
“They’ve got world class players so we know how difficult it will be.
“Everyone has to be at 100 percent otherwise we’ll get nothing from the game.
“Having said that we have confidence we have the ability to hurt them, and it’s up to us to show that.”

After a tough start to the season Bayern are up to second in the Bundesliga. 

Liverpool went al the way to the final last year, before losing to Real Madrid. But the momentum created by that surprise run has been maintained in the Premier League and another trip to the Champions League knockout stages.
Bayern currently lie second in the Bundesliga and are starting to look like their old levels agains after a tough start to the season. For Klopp, who managed Dortmund before arriving at Anfield, that could spell trouble for the Reds.
“After six years of pretty much dominating the league it was clear this year was going to be a tougher situation.
“It’s actually still the same, being at the top of the league and still in the last-16 of the Champions League.
“It’s a normal situation with a high quality team.
“Munich’s situation, from my point of view, makes them even more dangerous and even more of a threat from my point of view.
“This is a competition, in Europe, where they always do well.”
For the Germans the role of underdogs suits them perfectly. At least that is according to Joshua Kimmich.
The defender said: “Liverpool are the favorites.
“They have lost one league game all season and have let in only 15 goals. But when you look at us, we are not as consistent as before.”
Before a ball has been kicked Bayern did receive some good news. Winger Franck Ribery was originally left out of the squad to play at Anfield and did not fly with his teammates. But after becoming a father, the Frenchman has now decided to join up with the squad and will be available for selection. One man who definitely will not make the pitch is Jerome Boateng. The central defender is suffering from a stomach virus.
The Bavarians will also have to wait until Tuesdays to determine whether winger Kingsley Coman will be able to play after picking up an ankle injury on Friday.
The Frenchman scored twice but was injured in the final stages of their 3-2 win at Augsburg.


Of Liverpool’s brilliant attacking trio the Brazilian is perhaps the most underrated and important. When he plays well the Reds usually do likewise. He links up the play well, settling up as many goals as he scores. Liverpool will be hoping he turns up with his A-game tonight, because if he does Bayern Munich could be in for a  long night. 


For once Bayern are not having it all their own way in the Bundesliga. But they are improving and giving Borussia Dortmund something to think about in the race for the title. But home advantage will be key and a resurgent Reds will prove too strong for a Bayern defence that has, on occasions this campaign, looked less than watertight. The only question is can Liverpool get a decisive lead and put the tie to bed before the second leg?