10 thoughts on “Oleksandr Usyk: To Survive, I Sold Ice Cream and Apricots, I Grazed Cattle

  1. Hellzapoppin’!

    I approve of all these gyrations except for the knee-drop. He keeps that up and he’ll be walking around on the kind of onion domes you find on Russian Orthodox churches. Somewhat mixed, though, on the Herring. Let me propose he go for a more circumscribed cut: the Kipper Snack. These things are always in danger of swelling into what Lemieux wears, the Bellyflopping Beluga.

    The nationalism, on the other hand, good lord… I read on expecting to hear he’s training this winter by leading a charge of Cossacks across the Urals.

    Have you seen any of his fights?

    • Haha Lemieux pulls off the haircut imo. One friend of mine has been prodding me for years to compile a pound for pound sexiest boxers list on this site, in which the chiselled Canadian would surely rank near the top.

      Yes, I’ve seen several of them. Many think he’s already the best cruiserweight in the world, and he’s certainly one of the top prospects in world boxing. He was one of the top pound for pound amateurs & won everything one can win in that code. He’s mandatory to Glowacki, so hopefully we see that this year.

      If it wasn’t for the cruiser division being so unfashionable, I’d say he has the potential to make a GGG/Kovalev type splash in America, but I suspect he’ll box with the big boys at some stage.

  2. Heh, I was thinking of how Lemieux’s hair was getting whacked into his eyes by Golovkin. Now I must see some Usyk fights before the Glowacki bout.

    What did you think of the weekend’s fights? Szpilka (I can’t type that name without thinking of Mr. Mxyzptlk!) was showing up Wilder in places, not surprisingly, until he walked into a big hand, not surprisingly. I thought again that an A list fighter would punish the champ’s weaknesses harshly. However while he looks raw and uncertain for someone with a perfect three dozen fights, it can’t be said Wilder has no inside game… Amusing to see Fury climb in the ring afterward and steal the show.

    Thoughts on Haye’s comeback?

    • I had Szpilka ahead at the time of the stoppage and think he exposed further weaknesses in the American. The two cards that had Wilder ahead by 4 rounds were a joke. He looked disjointed, defensively suspect and worried about his chin.

      That said, he closed the show spectacularly and it will take a hell of a shot in the next 50 weeks to top that for KO of the year. The post-fight confrontation with Fury was a classic.

      I’d certainly favour a still-improving Povetkin if that sanctioning body-mandated fight happens. One wonders if he’ll bin that belt to instead take on fellow Haymon client Charles Martin for his slice of the title, in a bit of musical chairs akin to what Peter Quillin performed at Haymon’s behest.

      Haye’s return was a fascinating freakshow. He’s entitled to fight 2 or 3 journeymen/clubfighters after a 3 1/2 year layoff & career-threatening surgery, but the hype surrounding the mismatch’s placing as a main event in a big arena was rightly met with widespread derision. That said, he’s a good addition to the mix, and, while the blowout didn’t prove much, it did show that Haye still carries power & his right hand is effective even after the extensive shoulder problems.

      Loved The Revenant (Inarittu is the new Coppola) & also thoroughly enjoyed The Hateful 8 (Tarantino’s best since Kill Bill).

      Also, pleased to see Oscar nominations for Fassbender, Charlotte Rampling for the excellent 45 Years, The Look of Silence & Lenny Abrahamson, whom I’ve met a few times and whose hand I shook at a celebratory party on Thursday night.

      • “…disjointed, defensively suspect and worried about his chin.”

        Perfect assessment. I too had Wilder behind going into the 9th. The hint of a jab seemed to send him running backward into the ropes. What’s he so afraid of?

        Besides his dreary performance until the KO, Wilder was panting hard at the end of the 8th. Another bad sign. However if you’re right about him taking the Martin rather than the Povetkin route, it shouldn’t much matter.

        I came across your amusing tweets about Haye. So: a desperate money grab in the works, then? Also, what did you make finally of the scandalous betting reports? Five days ago, apparently, the money was all running against him to lose to de Mori…

        High praise for Inarritu! Been keen to see The Revenant since the stunning trailer appeared. Amores Perros is a masterpiece, even if I haven’t been crazy about all his subsequent American work (I liked the Altmanesque Birdman well enough…even more than real Altman, haha). Would you recommend Biutiful?

        Speaking of celebs, how I relished Ricky Gervais at the recent Golden Globes, shushing and insulting tout l’Hollywood. His scatological riff on what to do with an award ranks as my favorite moment in the long tiresome history of these ceremonies.

      • He’s worried about his chin. Safety first worked for Wladimir, but Wilder doesn’t have the amateur background or Manny Steward schooling to make it work for him.

        Haha Haye’s primary reason for returning is almost certainly financial. He was detained in the Middle East a while back for a check bouncing and there are rumours that he is divorcing his wife. It’s depressing, as it shows that if a boxer as intelligent as Haye can lose his fortune, then so can anybody, but, then again, not many indulge in his jet setting lifestyle.

        Don’t know enough about the betting patterns to comment & the knockout was certainly legit. Incidentally, tennis is now embroiled in a betting scandal after widespread matchfixing was revealed in an investigative report released yesterday.

        I’ve been a big fan of Inarittu’s since the 21 Grams days and I’m delighted to see him get such widespread acclaim. He’s on a Coppola-esque roll of success right now and the comparison is deepened by the disastrous, interminable The Revenant shoot culminating in a potentially classic film, a la Apocalypse Now. He’s currently the top filmmaker working in the Hollywood system, in my view.

        A word on the cinematography from Lubezki also. Stunning work again from the man behind the innovative visuals of Malick & Cuaron.

        Biutiful is terrific, and was a strong sign that he would thrive without screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga by his side.

        By the way, don’t take my Oscar mention as a sign of any great respect for these awards. Like boxing’s myriad titles, they are largely bullshit, but still undeniably matter to the casual viewer and in a commercial sense.

        Funny you should mention Gervais. I’ve been rewatching his excellent Extras series lately, and just bought The Office (didn’t get into this years ago, but willing to try again) & a collection of his stand up (show #1 is, unfortunately, poor). I enjoyed his job at the Globes, particularly the savage tete a tete with Gibson.

  3. Never doubted it for a moment, Jeremy. I read it as you intended — pleasure at deserving artists getting their due.

    I loved Extras and recently rewatched the episode featuring dear old Bowie. The Office is interesting to me too; its portrait of a certain kind of grandiose worm is almost up there with Cleese as Basil Fawlty. I was satisfied by a small dosage, might watch more one day. Currently onto the tv production of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, from a witty yet overlong novel that defeated my two bids to go the distance. Spry and attractive job of the adaptation.

    Your comparison of Inarritu to Coppola has so whetted my appetite for the film I am nearly — nearly! — off to see it at the horrid megamall gigaplex. That option: sardined into a tiny box under a paltry screen waiting for thirty full minutes of brazen, artless ads to end so that darkness can fall bringing the first iPhones going off, calls that will be taken… No, I must wait for Amazon to sell it to me on a rental. Not remotely the same thing as the big screen — but then sadly neither is the alternative. It’s been years since I saw cinema as it was intended, indeed as I grew up watching it (70mm and, more memorably, the curvilinear three-person’d God of Cinerama, the format in which I saw masterpieces of Lean and Kubrick and think of in the same light as visits to the Louvre). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinerama

    Fascinating stuff about Haye, all unknown to me. I wish him well inasmuch as I hope to see him give trouble to some better boxers.

    Wilder must truly be worried about his chin. I don’t think I’ve seen a big man react to feints in quite the same twitchy Mayweatheresque fashion. Without the amateur background and tutelage, as you point out, he has developed some questionable footwork. His habit of using the ropes as an escape route from so-so guys will be his undoing, I think, when cleverer, faster foes watching tape see how he likes to backpedal, ricochet off them and clumsily reset. The Fury who flew like a kamikaze past Wlad’s famous guard should be able to take advantage.

    • Haha the “see his pug nosed face” song was stuck in my head the week of Bowie’s death: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge7S6-Ta3yg

      I’ll let you know what I think of The Office. Unfortunately, after last week’s viewing I can relay that Gervais’ first 3 standup shows were very disappointing.

      I too am upset with what cinema has become: digital projection (TV in public, as Tarantino scathingly dubbed it, with a machine doing the work, often incorrectly as I have read it is a common mistake for the 3D filter to be left on projectors even for non-3D screenings, rather than a trained person in command), and the death of such larger film formats of the past which I can only read about in envy. (There is only one 70mm projector in Ireland and I do hope to see a film there one day, maybe even The Hateful 8 if they screen it and I can make the journey). I’d highly recommend The Revenant in the cinema but can understand your apathy. Arthouse cinemas have respectful audiences, but having idiots chattering behind me while I was trying to luxuriate in the near-spiritual glow of The Tree of Life in a mainstream theatre was difficult to take.

      I braved the cinema again for Room last night. Good film and well-acted but not up there with the very best of Abrahamson’s work, in my opinion, and suffers from bouts of unnecessary sentimentality. His Garage is my favourite Irish film.

      Fury would toy with this version of Wilder, which is one of the many reasons why that fight has zero chance of happening anytime in the near future, again defying the common sense objective of every other sport, which is to determine who is the best. Don’t you just love boxing?

      Nice quote I found from Kovalev on Roy: “It’s like a comedy show. He’s a legend as a boxer, but he’s like a clown in Russia. My question is ‘Why? Because everybody in America forgot who he was?’ He was a great champion, but no more.”

  4. A cruel if honest assessment of Roy by Kovalev! Gotta be cruel to be kind, as Shakes and Nick Lowe both agree.

    As you say, boxing is a wonder. It is almost alone in all sports in its drive to ensure that nobody who should compete ever does, while equally resolute in giving us competition that nobody asked for and even fewer enjoy. It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world (except for Lola).

    Speaking of wonders, seventh of the world and otherwise: Broner is to return, against Floyd’s hand-picked nemesis. I don’t know much about Ashley Theophany, other than by name he could be a veteran of the Battle of Thermopylae. Meanwhile, I see Broner has been consulting strippers, as one does, oracles being hard to come by in Ohio.

    Looked up Garage and the IMDb synopsis makes it sound like one for me. I know I say that a lot, but I do actually get around to these films. Just not in any timely or orderly fashion: call me the Adrien Broner of film watching.

    • No sport treats its fans as wretchedly as boxing.

      Broner-Theophane is a contender for the worst ever Haymon/Mayweather Promotions fight. Absolutely odious mismatch. Theophane, a journeyman in the scheme of things, has gotten a title shot & payday (as well as a free car) from years of kissing Floyd’s ass, a gesture I’m sure the Money man would call loyalty.

      Garage is a very prescient look at the changing state of life in the small towns and villages of rural Ireland, the world in which I’ve grown up. Some side reading to go along with it: Patrick Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger.

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