Oleksandr Usyk, the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist from Ukraine, is going pro, just not where many thought he would be.
This week, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko’s company, K2 Promotions Ukraine, held a news conference in Ukraine to announce that the charismatic 26-year-old southpaw, who will campaign in the pros as a cruiserweight, had signed.
Usyk will turn pro in Kiev, Ukraine in a six-rounder on Nov. 9, according to K2 Promotions Ukraine chief executive Alexander Krassyuk.
Back in July, however, Usyk was headed to Top Rank and the plan was for him to turn pro Oct. 12 on the Timothy Bradley Jr.-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard in Las Vegas.
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said Top Rank had signed him as part of the deal to sign his Olympic teammate, the more heralded two-time Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
As it turned out, even though Top Rank signed Lomachenko and had met with Usyk and sent him a contract it thought had been agreed on, Usyk didn’t sign and got a better offer from K2.
"We thought we had to sign Usyk to get Lomachenko and he, luckily for us, got a good offer from K2, so that's how it worked out," Arum told ESPN.com. "He’s a nice boy and everything and we really liked him, but K2 can use him better than we can. He’s really a cruiserweight, not big enough to be a heavyweight, so he will have more opportunities in Europe. We’re happy it worked out for everybody."
Usyk was a terrific amateur. Besides winning the Olympic gold medal in London, he also won a 2011 world amateur championship in addition to other international tournaments.
Usyk was happy with the way things turned out, saying at the news conference (in translated comments), "It is vitally important for me to debut in Ukraine. I visited America and the U.K., but K2 offered me the best option. I am happy about that and will proudly represent and give joy to many Ukrainians. I will come to America soon, but to pick up the championship belts."
Vitali Klitschko also attended the news conference.
"I am convinced that Ukrainian boxing fans will enjoy his charisma and boxing skills for a long time," Klitschko said.
Krassyuk called Usyk’s signing "the biggest for K2 in its history. Oleksandr was born the same day as Muhammad Ali [Jan. 17] and this is not an accident. With his skills and experience we expect within a couple of years Usyk will gain the right to fight for the world title."