Revisiting Oleksandr Usyk’s six world title defences ahead of the Anthony Joshua rematch

The Ukrainian will be looking to make his seventh successful defence of a world title in August when he rematches Anthony Joshua.

Oleksandr Usyk has done alright for himself considering he did not step into a boxing ring until he was 15.

He was quick to make great strides as an amateur and in 2006 he won bronze as a middleweight at the European Championships in Plovdiv.

Usyk went from strength to strength over the next six years, winning gold medals at the Olympic Games in London and the World Championships in Baku.

Fighters with such glittering amateur careers do not always transition smoothly into the professional ranks.

Though with Usyk having an argument to be the best amateur boxer of all time, it was pretty well-set that he would thrive in the pro game.

'The Cat' has won world titles in two weight classes, become only the fourth male boxer to hold all four major world titles at once and won the World Boxing Super Series. All that in just 19 pro bouts.

The best moment of his career so far came at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September. He breezed past Anthony Joshua to become world heavyweight champion.

Joshua and Usyk will fight again

He continues to show his brilliance and he is set to defend his belts in Saudi Arabia against Joshua in August. After how comfortably he was beaten last time, Joshua has a major job on his hands to reclaim his belts.

Especially with it coming against a man in Usyk who has never lost a world title fight and has made six successful defences.

Ahead of Usyk vs Joshua 2, here's a reminder of who the Ukrainian has beaten in fights over the biggest prizes in boxing.

Thabiso Mchunu - WBO cruiserweight title (Dec 2016)

After building up a 9-0 unbeaten record, Usyk challenged Krzysztof Glowacki in the champion's country of Poland for the WBO world cruiserweight title.

The Cat was able to outbox and outland the home fighter, winning comfortably on points to pick up the world title.

Usyk's first defence came against South African Thabiso Mchunu. This was his American debut and it was on a grand stage. He supported Bernard Hopkins in what proved to be the final bout of the legend's career against Joe Smith Jr.

This fight was more of a showcase for Usyk as Mchunu was not the best opponent he will ever face. The challenger already had three losses on his record, with the most notable one coming against Ilunga Makabu.

Usyk made a slow start - as he often does - but he picked apart Mchunu at will once he found his range.

The challenger was floored in the sixth round and following two more knockdowns in the ninth, the referee called time on the contest to save Mchunu from further punishment.

Michael Hunter - WBO cruiserweight title (Apr 2017)

Usyk was back in the states four months later in what was his first bout with Vasiliy Lomachenko's father - Anatoly Lomachenko - as his trainer.

His opponent was Michael Hunter. This was an exciting matchup which pitted two respected amateurs against each other.

Hunter won National Championships in the heavyweight division as an amateur and was 12-0 before facing Usyk.

To the surprise of some, Hunter had control of the fight in the early going. 'The Bounty' used his jab well to leave the champion behind on the scorecards.

Hunter's fun did not last too long though as a lot of heavy leather came to his head and body for the rest of the bout.

The American was out on his feet by the end, with the referee ruling that a standing eight count was necessary just before the final bell.

All three judges scored the bout 117-110 to Usyk, who marched on to bigger and better things. Hunter meanwhile gave a good account of himself and that is still the only loss on his record.

Marco Huck - WBO cruiserweight title (Sep 2017)

Later in 2017, it was announced that Usyk would participate in the inaugural World Boxing Super Series.

The eight-man tournament pitted the eight of the best cruiserweights in the world against each other and in the quarter-final round, Usyk defended his WBO belt against Marco Huck.

The German previously held the WBO world title for six years and he also had a spell as IBO champion.

Never shy of fighting in a foe's backyard, Usyk travelled to Berlin to battle Huck.

Huck often fell short when he faced the best in the division and this continued against Usyk.

There was a distasteful build-up as Huck pushed Usyk during fight week. This did not stand the challenger in good stead when it mattered in the ring.

It was about as dominant a win as Usyk could have dreamed of. He dismantled the home fighter and stopped him in the tenth round to advance in the tournament.

Mairis Briedis - WBO cruiserweight title (Jan 2018)

Next up for Usyk was the toughest fight of his professional career to date. Mairis Briedis defeated Mike Perez to book his place in the semi-finals of the WBSS.

The WBC world champion was unbeaten in 23 fights and he was always going to be Usyk's most difficult challenge in the tournament.

Briedis has been chasing a fight against YouTuber Jake Paul in recent months and he has made a fool of himself in doing so. But don't let that take away from how good a boxer he is.

As expected, Usyk and Briedis delivered a thrilling 12-round barnstormer.

Usyk was always active as he kept Briedis at bay with his pinpoint jab. The latter landed some heavy shots to leave the Ukrainian cut and bruised.

The Cat lived up to his moniker on the night, showing that he's capable of outboxing near enough anyone.

Oleksandr Usyk is the unified heavyweight champion

Briedis huffed and puffed but he was ultimately beaten via majority decision. He caused Usyk a lot of problems, which is much easier said than done.

It was not enough in the end though. Usyk picked up yet another victory as the respect for him continued to grow.

Murat Gassiev - WBC & WBO cruiserweight titles (Jul 2018)

'Iron' Murat Gassiev was the boxer awaiting Usyk in the WBSS final. The Russian heavy hitter was the holder of the WBA and IBF world titles after he earned a stoppage victory over Yuniel Dorticos.

Before the Usyk fight, Gassiev had won 19 of his 26 bouts via TKO/KO and he was still unbeaten.

It was accepted that Gassiev did not have a real chance of winning on points. The only way you could see him winning was with a stoppage.

Though this itself would have been difficult. As seen during the Briedis semi-final, Usyk is not just a gifted boxer, he is also as tough as they come.

Fighting with a home crowd in Moscow, Gassiev could have done with Usyk making a slow start to their fight.

The southpaw rose to the occasion though as he had Gassiev on the back foot from the opening bell.

The WBA and IBF champion barely laid a glove on Usyk and it was hard to make a case for him winning a round.

Usyk's dominance was displayed on the cards, with him winning via unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109 and 119-109).

In doing so, Usyk became the holder of all four world titles plus The Ring Magazine belt. He also was the first man to win the Muhammed Ali Trophy. The likes of Josh Taylor and Naoya Inoue have followed Usyk in claiming the WBSS crown.

Tony Bellew - WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO & The Ring cruiserweight titles (Nov 2018)

Usyk turned his attention to Tony Bellew immediately following his WBSS triumph.

Bellew was coming off back-to-back victories over fellow Brit David Haye at heavyweight.

The Evertonian was now a beloved figure in British boxing and he had previously held the WBC world cruiserweight title between 2016 and 2017.

This fight against Usyk was Bellew's swansong at the end of what was already a brilliant career.

Bellew announced pre-fight that this would be his last win or lose, with him wanting to go out after undertaking the ultimate task of attempting to dethrone Usyk.

The challenger was enjoying a late-career resurgence and he was getting praise for how talented a boxer he was in his own right.

With that said, few gave him a chance against Usyk, who was considered to be a far superior fighter.

In the ring, Bellew capitalised on a sluggish start from Usyk as he enjoyed some early success. This lasted for a couple of rounds before the Ukrainian's stinging jab started to leave a mark.

Bellew was running out of steam just past the halfway point and he was stopped in dramatic fashion via a brutal left hand in the eighth round.

The Brit's performance was rightly praised, but Usyk was just too good for him.

Usyk has since stepped up to heavyweight and his victory over Joshua was his third fight in the new weight class.

Bellew warned Joshua and co that Usyk will be a problem at heavyweight, and the Olympic gold medallist wasted no time proving his former opponent right.

Usyk is a supreme talent and you would be foolish to bet against him making a seventh successful world title defence versus AJ in Saudi Arabia.

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