Britain’s Dereck Chisora (32-9) will fight unbeaten Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk (17-0) in a heavyweight bout on May 23 at the O2 arena in London.
The fight, which has been discussed for over a year now, had been expected to take place in March but was put back after Usyk suffered an injury in training. However, this is likely to be postponed even further following the coronavirus pandemic.
Chisora, 36, has not fought since a fourth-round stoppage victory over compatriot David Price in October last year.
Usyk, 33, is a former undisputed cruiserweight champion who stepped up to heavyweight last year against Chazz Witherspoon (38-4), cousin of former world champion, Tim.
Both heavyweights remain in training for the May meeting, but it is hard to picture the date as a realistic one. However, let’s take a look at the two heavyweights and try to see who will come out on top:
The History Maker
Usyk won gold for Ukraine at the London Olympics in 2012, turned pro, and then pulverised the 200-pound division into particle dust.
He became the first cruiserweight to hold all four major world titles, drawing comparisons to Evander Holyfield, who was the first to achieve the feat in 1988 when there were just three belts available to win, shortly before the WBO was formed in that same year.
11 months after his last fight as a cruiserweight – an eight-round destruction of Tony Bellew in Manchester in November 2018 – Usyk made his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon, a sloppy 38-year-old who stepped in for the late withdrawal of Tyrone Spong, a third-rate opponent who returned an adverse doping test.
In the opening round, he got caught a couple of times, but from round two onwards, it was a typical display that we have come to expect from the formidable southpaw. He peppered the American with unrelenting shots, varied to head and body, until his broken-hearted opponent retired on his stool at the end of the seventh stanza.
The man did everything asked of him in the amateurs, the World Boxing Series, and in the cruiserweight division, and has yet to put a foot wrong in his glittering career.
Being a natural cruiserweight, he has the technique and speed to be the same devastating threat up at heavyweight, but obviously the question of power naturally arises. Will he be able to take his power up with him to the blue-ribbon division, and will he be able to handle the power of his opponents as a man who has weighed just 215lbs at his heaviest?
One thing is for sure, Usyk is not shy of a challenge and is happy to fight anyone, anywhere. He is WBO mandatory to Anthony Joshua, but has agreed to wait his turn while AJ fulfils his IBF mandatory defence to Kubrat Pulev.
Promoter Eddie Hearn matched him with ‘Delboy’ in the meantime, which will provide a proper heavyweight test for him.
Until now, his career-best scalps include Krzysztof Glowacki (26-0); Michael Hunter (12-0); Marco Huck (40-4-1); Mairis Briedis (23-0); Murat Gassiev (26-0); Tony Bellew (30-2-1).
The first on that list, ‘Glowka’, was the reigning WBO cruiserweight world champion until Usyk decisioned him comfortably in 2016 to become a world champion in just his 10th professional contest.
One of his notable defences of the WBO title was to Michael Hunter, who is a potential contender hunting down a shot at Joshua himself. He had a thrilling tear up with Alexander Povetkin in his last fight on the Joshua-Ruiz Jr 2 undercard, which resulted in a draw.
His three scalps in the WBSS were incredible – joint longest reigning cruiserweight champion of all time, Marco Huck; WBC world champion Mairis Briedis, who is now a two-time world titlist, who has reached the WBSS cruiserweight final for a second time; and unified world champion Murat Gassiev.
Despite a successful heavyweight debut, there are still questions to be answered about whether he will handle the power of the heaviest division. He did kop a right hook flush on the chin from the 242lbs Witherspoon, but it was more of an arm shot without the full weight behind it. Although 38-years-old, ‘The Gentleman’ went into that fight having won his last eight contests, seven of which ended in stoppages, so taking his best shot could be a sign that he will be fine with the heavier hands. You could present the argument that he took some clean shots from ‘Bomber’ Bellew, who had just dropped back down from heavyweight where he stopped David Haye twice.
However, his next fight is against the ‘Gatekeeper’ of the division, so if he gets past him successfully then a fight with Joshua will be welcomed by many.
After his knockout loss to Dillian Whyte in December 2018, Chisora has shown no signs of slowing down. It was his second defeat at the hands of the Brixton ‘Body Snatcher’ because everyone had demanded a rematch after their first meeting, exactly two years prior, which ended in a split decision result after the pair went at it hammer and tong for 12 rounds. Despite Whyte getting the nod, you couldn’t split the pair.
The 36-year-old has strung three wins together against decent competition, but definitely not world-class rated, however. He handled southpaw Senad Gashi (17-2) with ease, but the Kosovan hasn’t even been able to win a German heavyweight title in his career; then he KO’d world title contender Artur Szpilka (22-3) in just two rounds, but the 30-year-old Pole has been knocked out in all four of his defeats; then came his 32nd victory via a fourth-round TKO over David Price (25-6), who is well known for having a distinct lack of punch resistance.
He collected the vacant WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title with the win over Price and earned a no.9 position in the World Boxing Organisation’s ranking. However, if he upsets Usyk, then he could replace the Ukrainian as the WBO mandatory to AJ.
The British heavyweight will have a considerable weight advantage on the night, tipping the scales at 260lbs in his previous outing. Although Usyk is expected to come in heavier than his previous bout, Chisora’s extra timber could be crucial in his game plan, firstly with the heavier shots that will rattle any heavyweight in the world, and also wearing him down by leaning on him in the clinches and pushing him back; power and strength the Ukrainian is not used to.
Chisora’s successes hasn’t been against the world’s best and he has only triumphed over fighters just below that level. He has beaten domestic and European level boxers, but no one at the very top of the world. The likes of Takam, Spilka, and Price aren’t in the elite level bracket.
He can compete with the world champions, which he proved by going the distance with Vitali Klitschko in 2012, and even lasting 12 rounds with Tyson Fury, albeit nine years ago now before he was the behemoth he is today. He was leading on the scorecards against Whyte in their return bout, but he is also only a contender, thus far, despite being the interim WBC world champion.
When it comes to fighting the best, Chisora can compete, but he hasn’t been able to succeed.
How will the fight play out?
Usyk will be far lighter than his opponent, but he will make up for it with his technique, awkwardness and speed. He will also have a four-inch reach advantage, which will enable him to downplay Chisora’s patterns for the first few rounds.
Those initial rounds could be crucial, however. The more the fight goes on, the more Usyk dictates proceedings and gets into a comfy stride. ‘Delboy’ will know this and his best chance of victory lies in the opening rounds. If he can land a heavy shot early on and hurt Usyk, then he could capitalise like he did against Szpilka.
Usyk often takes time to examine his opponents, before gradually dismantling them over a series of rounds. By rounds four and five, he is in stride, peppering away and picking his opponents apart. He ups the pace and makes them feel uncomfortable with his unrelenting attacks.
If Usyk is allowed to get into his stride, then his immaculate timing, fluid movement, varied shot selection and high work rate will wear Chisora down and set up a potential late finish.
As the WBO mandatory challenger, who has already agreed to wait his turn, there is a lot at stake for Usyk and he will be on his best performance to not let a shot at the world heavyweight titles go to waste. Becoming a unified heavyweight world champion is a part of his desired legacy; money or fame is not important to this man, but creating history is.
Three years his senior, Chisora has the greater experience in the heavyweight division and is well established, whereas Usyk isn’t yet. The Londoner has already accepted that he will be eating a lot of leather on the night, but is prepared to take a few in order to land his own. If the lesser power of the natural cruiserweight doesn’t affect Dereck, then he could do as he says and wade in fearlessly to land any way that he can.
Chisora will be looking to exploit the 2012 Olympic gold medallist’s inexperience at heavyweight, whilst also testing his chin at any opportunity.
The last Briton to face Usyk was Tony Bellew and, although he was dismantled then destroyed, ‘Bomber’ did manage to land quite a few right hands cleanly. However, Chisora doesn’t possess the speed or sharpness of Bellew, but makes up for that in strength.
It’s hard to imagine Chisora’s heavier and slower shots landing cleanly like Bellew’s did. If he gets in close then he can make the most of his inside work, but Usyk will likely keep him at bay with his superior reach advantage.
If Usyk can start quickly, work out his opponent promptly without taking any damage from him, then he will win every round towards a points win, but could step it up a gear towards the championship rounds if he spies a weakness or frailty in his opponent.
WINNER: Usyk via 10rd round TKO/RTD
Everything you need to know about Usyk-Chisora HERE