Oleksandr Usyk

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Oleksandr Usyk
Олександр Усик
Oleksandr Usyk training - 20150409 - 24 (cut).jpg
Usyk in 2015
Statistics
Real name Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Usyk
Nickname(s) The Cat
Weight(s) Cruiserweight
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)[1]
Reach 198 cm (78 in)
Nationality Ukrainian
Born (1987-01-17) 17 January 1987 (age 31)
Simferopol, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Stance Southpaw
Boxing record
Total fights 15
Wins 15
Wins by KO 11
Losses 0

Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Usyk (Ukrainian: Олекса́ндр Олекса́ндрович У́сик) is a Ukrainian professional boxer. He has reigned as the undisputed cruiserweight champion since July 2018, being the first boxer in history to hold all four major world championships at cruiserweight: the WBO title since 2016, the WBC title since January 2018, and the WBA (Unified) and IBF titles since July 2018. Three of these titles were won during the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, in which Usyk won the Muhammad Ali Trophy. As of July 2018, he also holds the Ring magazine and lineal titles.

Usyk is the most recent male boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles since Terence Crawford in 2017, and is one of only five boxers in history to do so after Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, and Cecilia Brækhus. Usyk won the undisputed championship in his 15th professional fight, which is an all-time boxing record, and is the first undisputed champion from Ukraine. As an amateur, he won gold medals at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, both in the heavyweight division.

As of July 2018, Usyk is ranked as the world's best active cruiserweight by The Ring magazine,[2] the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB), ESPN, and BoxRec. He is also currently ranked as the world's fourth best active boxer, pound for pound, by The Ring and the TBRB; seventh by BoxRec; and eighth by ESPN.

Early life[edit]

Usyk was born in Simferopol, Crimean Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. Until age 15, he played association football and was trained at the SC Tavriya Simferopol specialized sports school of Olympic reserve (club's football academy). In 2002 Usyk switched to boxing. He is a graduate of Lviv State University of Physical Culture.

Amateur career[edit]

At the 2006 European Championships he won his first three matches against little-known opponents, in the semi-final he lost to Russian Matvey Korobov.

He then moved up to light-heavyweight later and won the Strandja Cup in 2008.

In February 2008, he moved up another weightclass and was sent to the Olympic qualifier in Roseto degli Abruzzi replacing European Champion Denys Poyatsyka. There he defeated world class Azeri Elchin Alizade and Daniel Price.[3]

At the 2008 Olympics, Uysk he outpointed Yushan Nijiati by 23–4, but lost to Clemente Russo by 4–7.

He dropped down to light-heavyweight and won gold at the 2008 European Championships, but later moved back up to heavyweight. At the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships he beat Artur Beterbiev and Teymur Mammadov to win the Heavyweight title and qualify for the Olympics.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Usyk won the gold medal, beating Artur Beterbiev, Tervel Pulev and Italy's Clemente Russo, outscoring him by 6–3 in Round 3.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Usyk turned pro in late 2013 at the age of 26 and signed a promotional deal with the Klitschko brothers' K2 Promotions, fighting in the Cruiserweight division.[5]

On 9 November 2013 Usyk made his professional debut by defeating Mexican fighter Felipe Romero via a fifth-round knockout. The following month he stopped 38 year old Epifanio Mendoza in four rounds. In his 3rd professional fight on April 2014, Usyk made his debut in Germany on the undercard of Klitschko-Leapai at the Koenig Pilsener Arena defeating Ben Nsafoah via 3rd-round knockout.[6] A month later, Usyk returned home and knocked out Cesar David Crenz in round 4, having knocked him down in round 3 as well.

Rise up the ranks[edit]

Usyk won his first title on 4 October 2014 after beating South African boxer Daniel Bruwer via round 7 technical knockout for the Interim WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title.[7] Usyk defended the title two months later stopping 35 year old Danie Venter in round 9.[8] Usyk was ahead on all three judges scorecards at the time of stoppage.

Usyk made another defence in April 2015 against former Russian cruiserweight champion Andrey Knyazev (11-1, 6 KOs) in Kiev. After seven one-sided rounds, referee Mickey Vann finally stopped the fight in round 8 after deciding Knyazev had taken enough beating. This win kept Usyk on course to a WBO title fight against then champion Marco Huck.[9]

In August 2015, Usyk defeated former South African light heavyweight champion Johnny Muller via 3rd-round technical knockout at the Sport Palace in Kiev, which saw Usyk control the fight with a jab. Usyk knocked down Muller twice in round 3 and although Muller protested, referee waved the fight off with one second of the round left.[10]

Usyk made a fourth and final defense against unknown Cuban boxer Pedro Rodriguez in a scheduled 12 round fight on 12 December at the Sport Palace. Usyk won the fight scoring his 9th straight knockout in as many fights, first dropping Rodriguez in round 6 with an uppercut before the fight was stopped in round 7, being knocked down again, although he beat the count. This win put Usyk at WBO's number 1 position, with a World title fight on the cards for 2016.[11]

WBO cruiserweight champion[edit]

Usyk vs. Głowacki[edit]

In June 2016, it was announced that Usyk would challenge undefeated Polish boxer Krzysztof Głowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) for his WBO cruiserweight champion on 17 September at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.[12][13][14] It was reported that Usyk's trainer James Ali Bashir wanted to recruit former world champion Antonio Tarver as a sparring partner. It was said that Tarver not only requested too much money, but he also wanted to appear on the card as a co-featured main event.[15] Głowacki weighed 199.3 pounds, which Usyk coming in slightly lighter at 198.75 pounds.[16] The fight was shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.[17] On the night, Usyk outpointed Głowacki after an exciting 12 round fight with the judges scoring it 119-109 117-111 117-111 all in Usyk's favour. The decision win also ended Usyk's run of having won his opening 9 fights via stoppage. Usyk dominated the fight with a jab, eventually injuring Głowacki's eye early in the fight leading it to eventually bleed. The cut continued to bleed for the remainder of the contest. Usyk also used his dominant hand speed and footwork which helped him score the decision win.[18][19]

Usyk vs. Mchunu[edit]

Usyk announced he would be making his American debut on the Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr. card on 17 December 2016. The fight would take place at the Forum in Inglewood, California.[20] On 11 November K2 Promotions announced Usyk would be defending his WBO title against 28 year old South African boxer Thabiso Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs). Mchunu previously lost to Ilunga Makabu via 11th round stoppage, although being ahead on the scorecards at the time.[21][22] Usyk broke down Mchunu eventually stopping him in the 9th round. Prior to the stoppage, Usyk also knocked Mchunu down in the 6th round. In round 9, Usyk knocked Mchunu down twice in. The fight was halted by referee Lou Moret after the second knockdown. Although the fight started very slow, the fans in attendance began to boo. The pace was picked up after the first couple of rounds, when Usyk started connecting with his trademark combos.[23] CompuBox statistics showed that Usyk landed 163 of 517 punches thrown (32%), and Mchunu landed 76 of his 278 (27%).[24]

The official time of the stoppage was at 2:53. Prior to the fight, Usyk spoke of his desire to fight other cruiserweight titlists as well as fighting Anthony Joshua at heavyweight.[25][26] The fight averaged 560,000 viewers on HBO, this was considered good numbers considering it was Usyk's HBO debut and on the undercard.[27]

Usyk vs. Hunter[edit]

K2 Promotions announced that Usyk would be returning on regular HBO to defend his cruiserweight world title in April 2017. He was originally planned to appear on the undercard of the Golovkin-Jacobs HBO PPV in March at Madison Square Garden, however since Roman Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras were scheduled to appear in separate fights and not fight each other, Usyk was pulled from the card.[28]

On 12 February 2017, Usyk announced that he had parted ways with long time trainer James Ali Bashir and replaced him with Vasyl Lomachenko's father and trainer, Anatoly Lomachenko.[29][30] Bob Arum announced that Usyk would be part of a triple header including Vasyl Lomachenko at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland on 8 April 2017 against Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs).[31] Usyk weighed 199.4 whilst Hunter came in at 199 pounds.[32] In front of a sold out crowd of 2,828, where there was majority Ukrainian fans in attendance, Usyk was taken the distance for the second time in his career and won a rather one-sided unanimous decision to retain his WBO title. Hunter unexpectedly controlled the first three rounds behind the jab. It wasn't until the fourth round, when Usyk took control of the bout using his left and connecting well to the body to win majority of the remainder rounds. Pundits thought Hunter was gifted going the distance and the fight should have been stopped by referee Bill Clancy in the championship rounds. In round 12, it appeared in the last minute, Hunter, whilst taking punches, was only standing because of the ropes where holding him up. Referee halted the fight and gave Hunter a standing 8 count, ruling it a knockdown for Usyk. All three judges scored the fight unanimously 117-110 for Usyk. Although it took him a few rounds to get into the fight, Usyk was happy with his performance and called out other titleholders, "I'm very happy with my performance,. I did what I wanted to do. He took a lot of punches. I thought maybe they would stop the fight (in the 12th round). I'd love to fight any of the titleholders, any time, any place."[33]

According to CompuBox punch stats, Usyk landed 321 of his 905 punches thrown, 36%. Hunter managed to land 24% of his punches, connecting 190 of 794.[34] The fight drew an average of 679,000 viewers on HBO and peaked at 774,000 viewers.[35][36]

World Boxing Super Series[edit]

On 1 July 2017, Usyk finally announced that he would join fellow cruiserweights Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev, Yunier Dorticos, Marco Huck and Krzysztof Włodarczyk in the 8-man bracket style tournament, due to start in September 2017. He said, "I feel happy and inspired with the idea of such a tournament. I've been dreaming of putting together all the champs to see who is the strongest and becomes the undisputed king of the division." The draw was to take place on July 8 in Monte Carlo. The winner of the tournament would receive a grand money prize and the Muhammad Ali trophy.[37]

Usyk vs. Huck[edit]

At the Draft Gala, Usyk, who had first pick, chose to fight former WBO champion Marco Huck (40–4–1, 27 KOs). When asked why he chose Huck, Usyk said, "Because of my fans." Huck, who was equally excited, replied that Usyk was his 'wish opponent'.[38] On 26 July it was announced that the fight would take place at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin on 9 September 2017. This would mark the second time Usyk would fight in Germany in his professional career, having fought there on his third professional bout in April 2014. It would also mark the first fight of the tournament.[39][40][41]

On 6 September 2017, at the final presser, Huck pushed Usyk in the face-off. In regards to the shove, Huck said, "I wanted to show Usyk that he is my hometown and that he should be prepared for the battle of his life on Saturday." Usyk, who remained professional and calm, replied, "If you want to be a great champion, you have to beat the best and Huck is one of the best. I chose to enter this tournament because it is a path to achieve my dream of unifying all the belts. There’s a prestigious trophy at stake too, the Muhammad Ali Trophy. We were born on the same day and I admire Ali because he is the biggest role model in boxing and I will thank God if I win a trophy with his name on it."[42] As he was leaving the building, Usyk claimed he would 'bury' Huck.[43]

On fight night, Usyk used his footwork and combination punching to cruise to a TKO win. On top of his dominant performance, Usyk taunted Huck throughout the fight. In round 8, Usyk tripped on Huck's feet and Huck lost a point on the scorecards as he threw a punch at Usyk when the latter was down. Usyk continued to land combinations with little to no response from Huck until referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight in the tenth round. With the win, Usyk progressed to the semi-final stage of the Super Series and was to face the winner of the Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez, scheduled for 30 September.[44][45]

Usyk vs. Briedis[edit]

Usyk would next fight Mairis Briedis (23–0, 18 KOs) following the latter's win over Perez via unanimous decision.[46][47][48] In November 2017, it was reported the fight would take place on 27 January 2018 in Riga, Latvia, a week before Gassiev vs. Dorticos takes place.[49] Arēna Rīga was confirmed as the location by Comosa's Chief Boxing Officer Kalle Sauerland.[50] Usyk came in at 199.5 pounds and Briedis weighed 199.1 pounds.[51] Usyk moved on to the final of the tournament after defeating Briedis via majority decision. With a high work rate, Usyk controlled most of the fight with his jab put on pressure when needed. Briedis was credited with landing the more harder punches. The opening four rounds were closely contested and Usyk was cut from a head-butt over his right eye in round 3. From round 5, Usyk became busier and took control of the fight, although he was still hit with some hard shots to the head from Briedis. One judge scored the fight 114-114, whilst the remaining two judges scored the fight 115-113 in favour of Usyk giving him the win. After the fight, Usyk stated it was the hardest fight of his career.[52][53] According to CompuBox Stats, Usyk landed 212 of 848 punches thrown (25%) and Briedis was more accurate, landing 195 of his 579 thrown (33.7%). Usyk landed 40% of his power punches.[54] Many boxers and pundits praised the fight.[55]

Usyk vs. Gassiev[edit]

After Usyk beat Briedis, it was announced in the post-fight press conference that the final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, would take place on 11 May 2018.[56] However, once Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) stopped Yunier Dorticos, setting up the final, the secretary general of the Russian Boxing Federation, Umar Kremlev, stated that he would push forward in order to outbid Saudi Arabia and have the final of the tournament take place in Russia on the Day of Russian Boxing on 22 July. On 16 April, it was reported that Usyk had suffered an elbow injury during training, pushing the final to possibly June or July 2018.[57][58] On 18 June, at a press conference, Kremlev announced the final would take place on 21 July at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia.[59] On 29 June, the final was officially confirmed.[60] On the release date, 7,000 tickets were sold.[61] Both boxers came in at 198.45 pounds at the weigh-in.[62]

Usyk quickly took control of the fight, moving rapidly and using his "beautiful, commandeering jab". Despite facing a hostile hometown crowd, Usyk controlled the fight, not allowing Gassiev to use his power. Gassiev did not land a solid punch until the end of round 2. According to many reports, Usyk outclassed, outboxed, and dominated Gassiev. The result was never in question as Usyk was declared winner by unanimous decision with the scores of 120-108, 119-109, 119-109.[63] Muhammad Ali's widow, Lonnie Ali presented the trophy to Usyk. After the fight, both combatants were exemplars of good sportsmanship, embracing, with Gassiev saying "I had the best opponent of my professional career ... today is Oleksandr's day". Usyk humbly adding "My team made me look like I looked in the ring. This is our victory". The win made Usyk the first ever four-belt undisputed cruiserweight champion.[64][65] Usyk dominated throughout, landing 252 of 939 thrown punches (27%), compared to Gassiev's 91 landed of 313 thrown (29%). Usyk used his superior conditioning to finish the fight, also increasing his output by landing 47 of 117 punches thrown in round 12. Usyk managed to withstand the 32 power body shots he received and continued to move around the ring.[66]

When asked who he would like to fight next, Usyk said, "At this time I have heard that Tony Bellew wants to fight the winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. I hope he will see me talking.... 'hey Tony Bellew, are you ready?' If he doesn't want to go down, I will go up for him. I will eat more spaghetti for my dinner!" Also after the fight Usyk said: "Olympic [stadium], thanks. People, countrymen and those who supported. Moscow 2018. Bang! Daddy's in the building!".[67][68]

Undisputed cruiserweight champion[edit]

Usyk vs. Bellew[edit]

After calling out Tony Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) after winning the tournament, Bellew responded via Social Media that he would accept the fight, however stated the fight would need to take place in 2018 and for the undisputed cruiserweight championship. Bellew believed a fight at heavyweight would not be as appealing as he would not gain much with a win. Bellew also stated it would be last fight as a professional.[69][70] By the end of July, it was said the fight would likely take place in November 2018 in London.[71] After positive meetings between Bellew's promoter Eddie Hearn and K2's Alexander Krassyuk, on 20 August, Boxing Scene reported the fight was likely to take place on 10 November 2018.[72][73] A week later, K2 Promotions confirmed the date of the fight.[74] On 5 September, the WBA ordered for Usyk to start negotiating with Denis Lebedev (30-2, 22 KO), who was their 'champion in recess' and gave them until the first week of October 2018 to complete negotiations.[75] The was said to be a stumbling block for the potential Usyk vs. Bellew fight. According to Hearn, the fight was likely to be pushed back to 2019. Prior to negotiations, Bellew stated the fight must happen in 2018.[76][77]

On 7 September, Usyk signed a multi-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing, which meant he would fight exclusively on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in USA. The agreement meant Matchroom would co-promote Usyk alongside K2 Promotions. Usyk's next fight would be confirmed 'in the very near future', according to Hearn.[78][79] A week after signing with Matchroom, the Usyk vs. Bellew fight announced to take place on 10 November at the Manchester Arena, live and exclusive on Sky Box Office.[80][81]

Personal life[edit]

Usyk is married to Kateryna and the couple have 3 children (born in 2009, 2013 and 2015).[82] They now live in Kiev, Ukraine.

Roughly one month after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation Usyk declared (on 28 April 2014) he would never exchange his Ukrainian citizenship for a Russian one and that he considered Crimea a part of Ukraine.[83]

In 2016, answering to a question if he can still enter Crimea and his patriotic position, he stated that he can enter Crimea after each of his fight; that he doesn't like to talk politics due to the fact that people like to take words out of context, that in Russia he has many fans and that he doesn't divide "our peoples because we are Slavs".[84]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
15 fights 15 wins 0 losses
By knockout 11 0
By decision 4 0
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
16 N/A N/A United Kingdom Tony Bellew N/A – (12) 10 Nov 2018 United Kingdom Manchester Arena, Manchester, England Defending WBA (Unified), WBC, IBF, WBO, The Ring, and lineal cruiserweight titles
15 Win 15–0 Russia Murat Gassiev UD 12 21 Jul 2018 Russia Olympic Stadium, Moscow, Russia Retained WBC and WBO cruiserweight titles;
Won WBA (Unified), IBF, vacant The Ring and lineal cruiserweight titles;
World Boxing Super Series: cruiserweight final
14 Win 14–0 Latvia Mairis Briedis MD 12 27 Jan 2018 Latvia Arēna Rīga, Riga, Latvia Retained WBO cruiserweight title;
Won WBC cruiserweight title;
World Boxing Super Series: cruiserweight semi-final
13 Win 13–0 Germany Marco Huck TKO 10 (12), 2:12 9 Sep 2017 Germany Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany Retained WBO cruiserweight title;
World Boxing Super Series: cruiserweight quarter-final
12 Win 12–0 United States Michael Hunter UD 12 8 Apr 2017 United States MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland, US Retained WBO cruiserweight title
11 Win 11–0 South Africa Thabiso Mchunu TKO 9 (12), 1:53 17 Dec 2016 United States The Forum, Inglewood, California, US Retained WBO cruiserweight title
10 Win 10–0 Poland Krzysztof Głowacki UD 12 17 Sep 2016 Poland Ergo Arena, Gdańsk, Poland Won WBO cruiserweight title
9 Win 9–0 Cuba Pedro Rodriguez TKO 7 (12), 1:57 12 Dec 2015 Ukraine Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title
8 Win 8–0 South Africa Johnny Muller TKO 3 (12), 2:59 29 Aug 2015 Ukraine Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title
7 Win 7–0 Russia Andrey Knyazev TKO 8 (10), 2:24 18 Apr 2015 Ukraine Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title
6 Win 6–0 South Africa Danie Venter TKO 9 (10), 2:29 13 Dec 2014 Ukraine Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine Retained WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title
5 Win 5–0 South Africa Daniel Bruwer TKO 7 (12), 2:55 4 Oct 2014 Ukraine Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine Won WBO Inter-Continental interim cruiserweight title
4 Win 4–0 Argentina Cesar David Crenz KO 4 (8), 2:19 31 May 2014 Ukraine Sport Palace, Odessa, Ukraine
3 Win 3–0 Germany Ben Nsafoah KO 3 (8), 1:43 26 Apr 2014 Germany König Pilsener Arena, Oberhausen, Germany
2 Win 2–0 Colombia Epifanio Mendoza TKO 4 (6), 2:10 7 Dec 2013 Ukraine Ice Arena TEC Terminal, Brovary, Ukraine
1 Win 1–0 Mexico Felipe Romero TKO 5 (6), 1:36 11 Sep 2013 Ukraine Palace of Sports, Kiev, Ukraine

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  60. ^ "Usyk vs. Gassiev Officially Announced For July 21, Moscow". BoxingScene.com. Retrieved 2018-06-29. 
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  63. ^ "Usyk Dominates Gassiev To Unify WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF Titles". BoxingScene.com. Retrieved 2018-07-24. 
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  69. ^ "Hearn: Bellew vs. Usyk in Very Early Talks, We Want The Fight". BoxingScene.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29. 
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  71. ^ "Tony Bellew eyes November date for Oleksandr Usyk showdown - Boxing News". Boxing News. 2018-08-03. Retrieved 2018-08-29. 
  72. ^ "Eddie Hearn hopeful Tony Bellew-Oleksandr Usyk fight will be made after positive meeting in Paris". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2018-08-29. 
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  82. ^ (in Ukrainian) Oleksandr's wife Katerina gave birth to a son, Televiziyna Sluzhba Novyn (8 February 2013)
  83. ^ (in Ukrainian) Usyk: "I am Ukrainian, and Crimea is Ukrainian", Ukrayinska Pravda Champion (28 April 2014)
  84. ^ "Усик: "Я не разделяю народы Украины и России, ибо мы славяне"". Xsport.ua (in Russian). 1 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Regional boxing titles
New title WBO Inter-Continental
cruiserweight champion
Interim title

4 October 2014 – December 2014
Promoted
Vacant
Vacant
Title last held by
Krzysztof Głowacki
WBO Inter-Continental
cruiserweight champion

December 2014 – 17 September 2016
Won world title
Vacant
Title next held by
Imre Szellő
World boxing titles
Preceded by
Krzysztof Głowacki
WBO cruiserweight champion
17 September 2016 – present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Mairis Briedis
WBC cruiserweight champion
27 January 2018 – present
Preceded by
Murat Gassiev
WBA cruiserweight champion
Unified title

21 July 2018 – present
IBF cruiserweight champion
21 July 2018 – present
Vacant
Title last held by
Yoan Pablo Hernández
The Ring cruiserweight champion
21 July 2018 – present
Vacant
Title last held by
O'Neil Bell
Undisputed cruiserweight champion
21 July 2018 – present
Vacant
Title last held by
Tomasz Adamek
Lineal cruiserweight champion
21 July 2018 – present
Achievements
Previous:
Terence Crawford
Quadruple boxing titlist
21 July 2018 – present
Incumbent