Boxing

Oleksandr Usyk does not command 'respect' from the heavyweight elite, says Michael Hunter

Oleksandr Usyk’s lack of KO power and desire to “protect himself at all times” means the top heavyweights will not show him “respect”, says Michael Hunter.

Undefeated Usyk beat Hunter en route to becoming undisputed cruiserweight champion and has now stepped into the top division, where he is WBO mandatory challenger to the belt held by Anthony Joshua.

Usyk beat Derek Chisora and is negotiating a fight with Joe Joyce, but his physical attributes will not endear him to the champions, according to Hunter.

“He is a fully fledged heavyweight. He’s taller than me,” Hunter told Sky Sports. “He’s a small fully-fledged heavyweight, but I think that it’s going to be very hard for Usyk to get heavyweight fights.

“I think that other heavyweights don’t see him as a heavyweight.

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“Another thing I think he’s going to have a problem with in [the heavyweight division] is people want to see [fighters] getting knocked out and coming off the canvas.

“He doesn’t do any of that or have any of those components.

“Even like myself, I’m more of a boxer-puncher, I’ll put myself on the line, or go forward to get the knockout. Go above and beyond just protecting yourself at all times.

“That’s one thing that I don’t think he can do is, because he’s really a pure boxer. To be a fighter and to try to do that as a heavyweight, I think that will be setting yourself up for failure.

“I thought the Joe Joyce fight was probably the good route for him. The only route I can see him actually going.”

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Since his sole career defeat to Usyk, Hunter has also joined the heavyweight division where he has stopped Martin Bakole, outpointed Sergey Kuzmin and earned a draw with Alexander Povetkin.

Hunter is in talks with Filip Hrgovic over an IBF final eliminator which would position the winner as the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s title.

Hunter continued about Usyk: “I don’t see him, other than getting a mandatory, and somebody that he can probably easily outbox.

“But nobody is going to really respect him. He’s not going to get those big fights.

“None of the big guys want to lose by a paintbrush and not know how to come back in the next fight and fix it.”

Conor Benn fights Samuel Vargas on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.

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