So far, Oleksandr Usyks plan is working perfectly -- but it is not quite done yet.The 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist from Ukraine came into the professional ranks with a goal to quickly win a cruiserweight world title, which he did in only his 10th professional fight on Sept. 17, when he traveled to Poland and won a unanimous decision to take the belt off Krzysztof Glowacki.Usyks checklist, however, also includes making it big in the United States, unifying cruiserweight titles, and then moving on -- like many top cruiserweights do -- to the heavyweight division for bigger fights and bigger money.Usyk will get started on the second item on his checklist on Saturday (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at The Forum in Inglewood, California, where he will make his U.S. debut and his first title defense against South Africas Thabiso The Rock Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw contender, in the opener of a tripleheader.I have a very good impression of the United States, and I am very excited to fight here, Usyk told ESPN through translator, good friend and light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk, his bronze medal-winning Olympic teammate. From the beginning of my career I wanted to fight in the United States, and now my dreams come true.The card is headlined by legend Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), the former middleweight and light heavyweight world champion from Philadelphia, who is a month shy of his 52nd birthday, closing out his 28-year career with a 12-round light heavyweight farewell fight against Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs), 27, of Shirley, New York.In the co-feature, 24-year-old featherweight up-and-comer Joseph JoJo Diaz (22-0, 13 KOs), a 2012 U.S. Olympian from South El Monte, California, will fight Horacio Violento Garcia (30-1-1, 22 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in a scheduled 10-rounder.Besides defending the belt, the 6-foot-3 Usyk also wants to entertain the fans. He is a showman with a big personality who likes to perform the traditional Ukrainian Hopak dance of the Cossacks in the ring.It comes from my heart, Usyk said of his dancing prowess. I was born with this, and I was thinking when I was a kid I would like to be an actor. I became a boxer, so I tried to combine the two by dancing.It is the showmanship as well as his fighting ability that made manager Egis Klimas, who has known the 29-year-old Usyk for years, want to get involved with his career. He finally signed him shortly after he won his title.I think because of his personality, the way he acts, I think he will have a very big fan base, said Klimas, who also manages former unified light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev, Gvozdyk and junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko, who is also a close friend and Olympic teammate of Usyks. I truly believe people [are] going to like him a lot.Usyk, a southpaw, is a popular fighter in Ukraine, where he sells out 10,000-seat arenas. He is promoted by K2 Promotions, whose figurehead, Vitali Klitschko, the former heavyweight world champion and current mayor of Kiev, is a fixture at his fights; he is expected at The Forum on Saturday. As popular as Usyk is in Ukraine, he and Klimas agreed that it was time to come to the U.S. and make a move.If all goes well, Klimas said Usyk probably would fight two of every three fights in the U.S. with one in Ukraine.America is still the mecca of boxing, Klimas said. You can be the most popular guy in Ukraine, but if you want the world to know who you are, and you want to unify titles, you need to be on this soil. That was his dream, to fight in America and to fight in a big arena.Definitely, being with the legendary Bernard Hopkins means a lot to him and our whole team. We have so much respect for Hopkins. Hes been a great fighter. Thats what Usyk wants to be. Our goal is also to get American fans and American [television] network behind us.By winning the 200-pound belt in his 10th professional fight, Usyk broke the division record for fewest fights needed to win a world title. He surpassed the mark held by Evander Holyfield, the recently elected International Boxing Hall of Famer who won a cruiserweight world title in his 12th fight when he beat fellow Hall of Famer Dwight Muhammad Qawi in an epic 15-rounder in 1986.It was a record Usyk said he had his eye on from the start of his pro career.I knew about it. This was my goal to beat this record, he said. I was really happy when I did it. I like and respect Holyfield. I saw a lot of his fights growing up, and I am happy I can do it faster than he did.Then Usyk flashed his wit, adding with a laugh, Holyfield, nothing personal. Sorry, just business.Holyfield became the undisputed cruiserweight champion and then moved up to heavyweight division and became the undisputed champion there also. Usyk hopes to follow in his footsteps in the not-too-distant-future.Im not fighting at heavyweight now because we should go step-by-step, said Usyk, who was introduced to boxing at age 15 by his late father. I want to become a star in the United States because I want to show everyone quality boxing.Unifying all the belts could be a very time-consuming effort, so Usyk said he would like to at least unify two belts before leaving the division.From the beginning I wanted to dominate in the cruiserweight division, unify titles and then go to heavyweight, Usyk said. I think maybe in a couple of years, maybe in 2018, you will see me in the heavyweight division.Said Klimas: The most exciting thing about working with Usyk is maybe in a year and half, after unifying titles, he will turn into a heavyweight. This is a key. Thats a plan.Gvozdyk and Klimas believe Usyk can accomplish all that he says he wants to.I have no doubts about it, Gvozdyk said. I watch the cruiserweight champions, and he has a big chance to be the unified champion if he gets a chance to fight those guys. I know him. I used to spar with him. I have seen him against tough opponents. I see what he can do, and I think he can beat all of the [cruiserweight] champions.Said Klimas: I believe Usyk is right there with Kovalev and Lomachenko, the same level. I havent seen him live in a fight yet, only videos, but [Ive] seen him training and sparring. He went 15 rounds with four different sparring partners the other day and stepped out of the ring and went right to the heavy bag. His stamina is good. He has a big desire and heart. He has desire to prove to the world what he can do. Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Store . Despite dominating possession, Schalke needed an own goal from Nicolas Hoefler for the breakthrough a minute before the interval. The Freiburg midfielder misjudged Jefferson Farfans corner and bundled the ball into his own net. Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping . 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Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said his team has plans in place to allow Paul Pierce to retire as a member of the Boston Celtics if Pierce elects to end his playing days this summer.During an appearance on The Vertical podcast, Rivers said he believes Pierce hasnt made up his mind about his future.If Paul decides to retire, then were going to make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic, because thats what he should retire as, Rivers said during the podcast released Thursday. So we have all that in place. We just dont know what hes going to do.Added Rivers: I think Pauls going back and forth on it, and I want to give him room. I think he deserves it. From a team perspective, you would love that he made his decision eight weeks ago. I think there are certain guys that you just have to give time to, and Pauls one of them.Pierce, 38, played for Boston for 15 seasons before spending one season apiece with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Clippers. He was the NBA Finals MVP in 2008 and is the second-leading scorer in Celtics history, behind John Havlicek.During an appearance on ESPNs The Jump last month, Pierce admitted hes 50/50 on whether to continue playing.Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan already retired this offseason, and Pierce and Kevin Garnett remain undecided on their futures. On The Vertical podcast, Rivers said, It may go down as the greatest retirement summer in NBA history.Addressing unsubstantiated rumors that thhe Celtics and Clippers have talked about a deal involving Blake Griffin, Rivers smothered the suggestion.dddddddddddd[Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] and I have talked twice this summer. One [call] was about the British Open, and one was about another golf tournament. Thats about it, Rivers, who handles personnel decisions for the Clippers, told The Vertical podcast.Added Rivers: Its funny, you dont want to go out and send out a press release every time theres a rumor about Blake. We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers. Period. So when teams call, we say we have no interest. First of all, no teams calling right now because teams know we dont have any interest.It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that theyre media now. ... Theres so many good, credible guys. And then theres some of the guys who are bloggers who have nothing to do with the sport.I helped my young son trace where this started -- the Blake rumor, the Boston rumor -- lets go there. ... My son traced it to, I think, it was a Boston radio talk show. And the guy didnt say that we had been talking, he said Blake would be one of the guys that the Celtics should go after. That started the next step, to the next step, to the next thing you know it blew up. And that stuff is tough. 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jj009, 07.11.2018 09:03