Heat Checks and Hail Marys – Usyk Over Fury, Illini Baseball Captures B1G Title & More

By: Mike
May 19, 2024

Mike Cagley, Co-Host IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular & Big Sports Radio

Cover photo courtesy Mikey Williams, Top Rank

May 19, 2024

The last 24 hours have been exciting ones for sports fans.

Oleksandr Usyk defeated Tyson Fury to become the first unified heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999, the Illini won the B1G title in baseball, Seize the Grey won the Preakness meaning there will be no Triple Crown winner this year, the PGA Championship has 8 players bunched up within 3 shots at the top of the leader board, and the Dallas Mavs are going to the Western Conference championship in the NBA.

What a weekend!

Heat Checks #1 – Oleksandr Usyk Defeats Tyson Fury for Unified Heavyweight Title

It took a long time to get a prediction correct, but my prediction of Usyk winning a close decision, or a majority decision was about as close to being right as possible. The judges gave Usyk the win by split decision (1 judge voted for Fury), but Usyk was the clear winner in what looks to be their first of either two (if Usyk wins the rematch) or three (if Fury wins the rematch) possible fights.

Fury was in his best shape in years, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the technically sound Ukrainian who used his greater efficiency at landing blows to his advantage. In the 9th round, Usyk may have knocked out Fury if not for the ropes holding up the lineal heavyweight champion. If those punches had come 10 seconds sooner in the round, it is very possible that Usyk wins by knockout.

Now the debate is on fire as to which fighter is the pound for pound best fighter in the world. It’s difficult to “guesstimate” this ranking as smaller fighters are quicker and if you “zoomed them up” to heavyweight size, they’d slow down (and the opposite is also true).

The debate is down to three fighters:

  1. Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs) the unified welterweight titlist
  2. Naoya Inoue (27-0, 24 KOs) the unified super bantamweight titlist
  3. Usyk (22-0, 14 KOs) the unified heavyweight titlist

Usyk is the 3rd fighter to have unified all 4 titles in 2 separate weight classes in the 4-belt era – following Crawford and Inoue. This gives me justification to declare a 3-way tie.

Admittedly, that isn’t a satisfying answer, if pressed, I’d probably go with:

  1. Crawford
  2. Usyk
  3. Inoue

This shows my bias for higher weight classes more than anything else.

I’d be willing to rank them in just about any order. All three are that good. All three have moved up in weight classes to prove their "pound-for-pound street cred" and all three are true champions.

Heat Check #2 – Illini Baseball

What a year it’s been for the Illini baseball team. They won the title outright by sweeping the series against Purdue on the road. This is the first B1G championship for the Illini since 2015. And they did it in dramatic fashion featuring a 7 seven run 7th inning in Friday’s 9-4 victory and an 8 run 6th inning in Saturday’s 18-10 conference title clincher.

After starting out 2-5 to open the season, things looked grim for the Illini. Under Dan Hartleb’s leadership, the team began to turn things around and gained confidence, particularly after a 2-1 series win at Indiana in late March.

The Illini are a fun team to watch as they led the B1G with 103 home runs this season overall. A fan can’t afford to lose focus during an Illini baseball game, as you might miss the next home run getting launched.

The Fighting Illini head to Omaha, NE for the Big Ten Baseball tournament. They are the number one seed and will be taking on the number eight seed Penn State on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 pm central.

Heat Checks #3 – David Williams Charity Golf Outing – June 8 – Slots Available

A friendly reminder goes out to any wanting to come to Champaign to meet some Big Ten Legends. David Williams is hosting his 3rd Annual Charity Golf Outing to support the Tom Jones Challenger League and Bonnie Blair’s DASH Project.

Arrive at 9 am to register on Saturday June 8th.

The shotgun start is scheduled for 10:30 am. Every foursome gets a Legend to play with their group.

After the golf is finished, there will be an autograph session, an auction, cocktail reception and awards presentation.

Come out and support a great cause.

For information: https://davidwilliamsfoundation.org/

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