Great Eight: Oleksandr Usyk supplants Tyson Fury as king of the big men

The proliferation of titles makes it difficult for all but the most astute fans to determine the cream of the boxing crop.

That’s why Boxing Junkie came up with its “Great Eight” feature, which names the best fighter in each of the original eight weight classes –heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight and flyweight.

Heavyweight includes cruiserweight (and the WBA and WBC’s bridgerweight), light heavyweight includes super middleweight, middleweight includes junior middleweight and so on down to flyweight, which includes junior flyweight and strawweight.

In this installment of “Great Eight,” we crown a new heavyweight champion for the first time since the feature was started in 2020.

Oleksandr Usyk rallied from a slow start to score a knockdown and defeat Tyson Fury by a split decision on Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, thus claiming the undisputed heavyweight championship and supplanting longtime king Fury as the “Great Eight” champion.

And let there be no doubt that Usyk deserves the top Boxing Junkie honor, with back-to-back victories over Anthony Joshua, a knockout of Daniel Dubois and now a decision over previously unbeaten Fury in his last four fights even though he’s smaller than all of the above.

Of course, Usyk might not have a long reign. He and Fury said in post-fight interviews that they plan to fight again, perhaps in the fall.

Fury, who fought well and would’ve walked away with a draw without the ninth-round knockdown, would reclaim his throne with a victory in the rematch.

Stay tuned.

Here are the top fighters in the original eight divisions:


Oleksandr Usyk (22-0, 14 KOs) – Usyk got a lot accomplished with his victory over Tyson Fury on Saturday, becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion in a quarter century and only the second Great Eight heavyweight champ.


Dmitry Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) – Bivol had been set to face Artur Beterbiev for 175-pound supremacy on June 1 in Saudi Arabia but the showdown was postponed after the latter was injured in training. Instead, Bivol will face Malik Zinad (22-0, 16 KOs) on that date.


Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) – The 154-pounder hasn’t fought since he came up short against 168-pound champ Canelo Alvarez in September and then lost his sanctioning body titles at 154. However, he remains the best at 160 and 154 … at the moment.


Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) – Crawford is set to move from 147 to 154 to challenge WBA beltholder Israil Madrimov on Aug. 3 in Los Angeles. The winner probably will supplant Charlo as the Great Eight middleweight champion.


Gervonta Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) – “Tank” remains the most-complete fighter at 135 and 130 but boxing wizards Shakur Stevenson and Vasiliy Lomachenko might have something to say about who reigns in Great Eight before all is said and done. Davis is scheduled to face Frank Martin on June 15 in Las Vegas..


Naoya Inoue (26-0, 23 KOs) – Inoue gave arguably his most spectacular performance against Luis Nery on May 6 in Tokyo, rising from a first-round knockdown — the first of his career — to stop his opponent in dramatic fashion. Can anyone compete with this guy?


Juan Francisco Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) – The Mexican 115-pound titleholder is scheduled to face Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, our Great Eight flyweight champion, in a blockbuster matchup June 29 in Phoenix. The winner will be the bantamweight king here.


Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) – Rodriguez will hold his position as champion until the 112-pounder steps into the ring to challenge Estrada at 115, meaning we are likely to have a new flyweight champ in early July.

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie