After two prior dates fell through, outstanding Ukrainian, Oleksandr Usyk finally makes his debut at Heavyweight on the 12th October, and the man in the opposite corner, after much deliberation, will now be Tyrone Spong.
Originally, the plan was a May date with tough gatekeeper, Carlos Takam, but this fell by the wayside after Usyk suffered a bicep injury. A September date was mooted, with Takam still the preferred choice of opposition, but this never materialised, and in steps the relatively unknown Spong for Usyk’s first foray into the most prestigious weight division. The Wintrust Arena in Chicago will be the venue for the contest.
Usyk, of course, needs no introduction, as a 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist, and an undefeated former undisputed Cruiserweight World Champion, as well as a World Boing Super Series winner. But exactly who is his opponent in “The Windy City”?
Tyrone Spong is a Surinamese born Dutchman who started combat life as a kickboxer, and then went on into the world of mixed martial arts. Moving to Holland at the age of five, he took to kickboxing at thirteen, and quickly excelled. In this code, his record was an impressive 91-7-1 with one no contest, winning various tournaments and titles in Thai Boxing and kickboxing. The 34 year old has already fought all over the world.
He then made the transition to MMA in 2012, but would only fight twice in the sport, both resulting in wins. His boxing debut came in March 2015, with a first round knockout of Juan Carlos Salas in Germany. After pulling out of an MMA fight in December of the same year, Spong has since solely focused on boxing.
He currently holds a 14-0 record, with all but one of these wins coming by knockout. His professional career has so far spanned Germany, Russia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Surinam and the USA, and he currently finds himself as the WBC and WBO Latino Champion, as a result of his birthplace being on the northeastern coast of South America. He knocked out Sergio Ramirez in a round to pick up the WBC Latino belt, and knocked out Carlos Nascimento in five to win the WBO version. He returned to his native Surinam in December last year, but had to go the distance for the first time in squeezing past Ytalo Perea via ten round split decision. His last outing was at the end of last month, with a second round stoppage of Jeyson Minda in Mexico.
Spong has faced nothing like the calibre of Oleksandr Usyk, but he has been operating thirty pound plus heavier than the his superior opponent for the duration of his professional boxing career. He will need to use as much size advantage as he can if he is to come close to getting anywhere near the gifted Usyk, but the task is surely too great for him, and I expect Usyk to make his Heavyweight bow with a bang, and score a before halfway stoppage victory.