Oleksandr Usyk vs. Carlos Takam Pick

Oleksandr Usyk vs. Carlos Takam Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, May 25, 2019
Where: MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland
TV: DAZN
Weight Class: Heavyweights: 10 Rounds
Titles: None
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Oleksandr Usyk, 16-0 (12 KOs), Kiev, Ukraine
Vs.
Carlos Takam, 36-5-1 (28 KOs), France/Cameroon

Betting Odds: Oleksandr Usyk (-2375), Carlos Takam (+1250)

In heavyweight action, Oleksandr Usyk takes on Carlos Takam on May 25 in the unlikely locale of Oxon Hill, Maryland. It’s a bit of a strange site for a Ukrainian and French-based Cameroonian to be fighting, but it’s still a highly-interesting bout. Usyk, the cruiserweight-extraordinaire, is making his heavyweight debut and draws no easy task in the well-traveled Takam, a man who has shared the ring with some top heavyweights with varying degrees of success. Usyk is 32, six years younger than Takam, and ready to make some noise in boxing’s glamour division.

Usyk is really fantastic and despite having only 16 fights, he has already distinguished himself as one of the best cruiserweights of all time. It’s not a division that attracts a lot of attention, particularly in the states. But Usyk in on the heels of cleaning out what has been a golden era of sorts in the 200-pound weight-class. With wins over standouts like Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev, and Tony Bellew, he has beaten some really good fighters. Throw in wins over Michael Hunter, Thabiso Mchunu, and Krzysztof Glowacki, you’re looking at a resume that ranks him among the most-accomplished cruiserweights of all time. But as we have seen, making the jump to heavyweight is unlike any weight-jump in the sport. You go from fighting opponents who can’t weight more than 200 pounds to fighting guys where there is no limit. It’s not like moving from junior middleweight to middleweight. A jump like this is more akin to jumping up three or four divisions.

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Takam is a tough entrance exam into the deep waters of the heavyweight division. At 38, however, and with two losses in his last three fights, he might be getting toward the end of the line. He’s actually a couple inches shorter than the 6’3″ Usyk and while robust, he’s not one of these giant cyborg heavyweights we have seen in recent years. Takam has scored some nice wins in his career, but since 2014, he hasn’t fared well at a top level, suffering three stoppage losses to Alexander Povetkin, Anthony Joshua, and Dereck Chisora. The losses to Joshua and Povetkin are more forgivable, but getting taken out by the erratic Chisora raises some serious red flags on the topic of Takam’s overall viability at this point in time. Granted, he was ahead at the time of the stoppage, showing he can still compete at a high level. And he has managed to win some fights along the way, even over the last several years. With a KO win in December 2018, he at least enters this fight on a winning note.

It’s still not that difficult to picture Usyk making waves at heavyweight. At 6’3,” one wondered how he got his frame under 200 pounds, as he should be able to come in at around 220 and still be in fantastic shape. He was a really big cruiserweight and while he will be smallish as a heavyweight, he won’t be that small. And if one thing will translate to the higher weight class, it will be skill, something Usyk has in abundance. Usyk has a great set of legs and uses it to great affect. He is also very seasoned despite having just a fraction of Takam’s pro experience. He has taken on one hotshot cruiserweight after the next, often vanquishing his foes on hostile territory on the road.

Usyk is just difficult, fighting out of a tricky southpaw stance. He is a master of angles, whether it be on offense or in taking away a clear target on defense. Unlike some lefties whose jabs are window dressing, Usyk makes great use of his right-hand probe, as it is a legitimate weapon. And with his thoroughbred legs, he’s a really difficult fighter to pin down. Even if opponents can solve his jab, legs, and positioning to get inside, Usyk has the full arsenal of punches to deal with that.

Making it all come together for Usyk is tremendous stamina. He is so innate and natural in his boxing that it just looks like another day at the office when Usyk is in the ring. There is also a suddenness to his work. He can move inside quickly and do damage. But his legs, feet, balance, and shiftiness make the outside his real domain. Pinning him down can seem like a futile endeavor. He moves, twists, pivots, blocks, and parries shots. His defense has a multitude of layers . He moves his head well and is exceedingly fluid for a man his size. The Ukrainian former Olympic champion is just very natural and talented—a tough out for anyone even in this division.

Granted, heavyweights hit harder. Takam has tangled with the best and might find a smaller and lighter-hitting opponent more to his liking. From a skill standpoint, however, I don’t think he’s catching any breaks with this opponent. I think he has started to wane a bit and is a few years removed from his prime. This might be a controversial position, but I’m not so sure at this point that Takam even surpasses the danger-element of Usyk’s more recent cruiserweight opponents. I think it’s a lot harder to beat Murat Gassiev at this point than it is to defeat Carlos Takam.

Sure, the boxing history books are littered by great fighters who bit off more than they can chew trying to dance with the big boys. It’s just that Takam isn’t all that big. And in terms of momentum, ambition, and skill, it’s all Usyk in this fight. The odds aren’t that great for a position on Usyk to win. The closer we get to fight-night, we should see some totals posted on rounds. And I don’t see this one going the distance, as Usyk should discourage Takam enough to elicit an ending sometime before the final bell. I’ll take Usyk, while looking for a price on the “under” come fight-night.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Fight: I’m betting on Oleksandr Usyk at -2375 betting odds, with a position on “under” when the prices on totals are released closer to fight-night. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Usyk-Takam heavyweight fight by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you’ll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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