Oleksandr Usyk has done everything he can, so what’s left? | Photo by Mohammed Saad/Anadolu via Getty Images

Oleksandr Usyk has done everything he can, so what’s left?

It’s rare in boxing to be offered the perfect moment to bow out. The perfect moment to say goodbye and stroll off into the sunset. Like haunted gamblers gripped by addiction, generations of fighters have found it impossible to cash their chips in at the opportune moment and are still found sitting at the table at three in the morning, slumped, whiskey in hand, struggling to string a coherent sentence together.

On Saturday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Oleksandr Usyk hit the career jackpot by becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Add this title to the same he managed at cruiserweight, a European Championship gold medal, a World Championship gold medal and an Olympic gold medal and, as the kids say, “boxing – completed it, mate.”

The emotional toll it had taken on the now 37-year-old was evident post-fight. Clutching his daughter’s Eeyore toy, Usyk detailed the strife he and his family had been through over the past eight months of ‘will they, won’t they’ discussions regarding his long-awaited fight with Tyson Fury. Usyk was the yes man throughout, stayed true to his word, and made himself available three times for the first undisputed heavyweight title fight in 24 years.

Usyk’s tears were a cocktail of joy, relief and sadness. His country is still suffering at the hands of Vladimir Putin, but as sport so often can, Saturday night gave 48 minutes of respite to a proud nation of fighters.

Seeing Usyk’s hand raised inside the Kingdom Arena felt like a natural crescendo to his career. He’s been everywhere, won everything and earnt a pretty penny along the journey. It’s so rare that a fighter is offered the opportunity to bow out at the very top of the mountain, but Usyk has boxing immortality in the palm of his hand and there will be many voices around him wishing him to close it.

A rematch with Tyson Fury would of course increase his generational wealth, but after clearing out dangerous cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions, there’s nothing left for him to prove. He’s an ATG; a bad, bad man; but one that is able to do it all with humility and with that charmingly crooked smile plastered across his face.

If Oleksandr Usyk’s story is coming to an end, then Jai Opetaia’s may just be starting. The unbeaten Australian stretched his record to 25-0 in the chief support, going toe-to-toe with a Mairis Briedis who keeps proving he isn’t quite done with the sport.

Technically, Opetaia passes the eye test with flying colours and could have been knocking on the door of the pound-for-pound conversations if he was able to dispatch his Latvian foe quicker. But he was once again embroiled in a war of attrition with the 39-year-old who seems a world away from the guy who was chasing Jake Paul around dressed as Mario a few years back.

These wins — assuming no lasting damage has been done — will only sharpen Opetaia’s tools going forward. Stamina is clearly an issue as he fades going into the late rounds, but there is quite a big chance that he has just taken back-to-back wins off of the second best cruiserweight in the world, still. Opetaia’s frame looks destined for a heavyweight climb as he matures, and if this generation of heavyweights have sailed away then who’s to say the Australian isn’t the next in the queue to make a splash.

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