History-making cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13KOs) gets his first real test at heavyweight against ‘WAR’ Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23KOs) on Halloween, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK.
BBN’s Editor, Tim Rickson, previewed the entire five-fight PPV event:
Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora
This pair were originally scheduled to clash on May 23 at The O2 Arena in London, instead it’ll be a much smaller affair behind closed doors, with the venue yet to be disclosed, but it’ll still be PPV.
You could talk about Oleksandr’s amateur achievements forever, but to summarise briefly, he ran his record to 335-15 and was a Ukrainian, European, World and Olympic champion.
Del Boy’s vested career was very different, with just 20 bouts to his name, but he still did remarkably well in such a short space of time by winning the 2006 ABA super-heavyweight championships and bagging gold at a Four Nations tournament.
In the pro code, Chisora has challenged unsuccessfully for a world title, way back in 2012, but has triumphed domestically and at European level with British, Commonwealth and European titles held between 2010-2014. He has also held a number of WBA and WBO minor titles. He’s currently ranked in the top 15 heavyweights in the world with all five governing bodies: WBC #12; WBA #10; IBF #10; WBO #8; IBO #8.
Similarly to Usyk’s amateur career, he has achieved incredible feats and even made history when he won all four major world titles in the cruiserweight division, drawing comparisons to the great Evander Holyfield who was the first to achieve the feat before the WBO was born in 1988.
He’s currently ranked in the top three heavyweights in the world with all five governing bodies: WBC #2; WBA #2; IBF #3; WBO #1; IBO #1.
Usyk (17-0, 13KOs) has already debuted at heavyweight in October last year against Chazz Witherspoon (38-4, 29KOs), who was a national amateur champion, but failed to replicate that success as a professional.
It took Usyk a shaky first couple of rounds to settle in, but he was in full control from thereon. He copped a couple of big shots but nothing troublesome, as he peppered in an increasing amount of combos from head to body, left to right, straight down the pipe, and punches that rained from up above and popped up from down below persistently until the American could withstand no more.
The Ukrainian forced the cousin to legendary Tim Witherspoon to retire in the seventh round to announce his unwelcome arrival in the blue-ribbon division, sending caution to all the others already there. Despite the opening statement, many were critical of the performance, which has allowed his next opponent to draw confidence from.
In Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23KOs), he will face a real test that he needs to get through credibly if he is to challenge the WBO World champion Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21KOs) next.
‘Delboy’, recently rebranded to ‘WAR’ Chisora, is on three-fight winning streak following his KO loss to Dillian Whyte (27-2, 18KOs) in December 2018 after their initial fight two years prior was so close, ruled as a split decision win to Whyte. In the rematch, Chisora was knocked out cold by his fellow Londoner in the 11th round to put the rivalry firmly to bed.
The 36-year-old didn’t allow David Price an inch of space or a single second of respite during their October 2019 clash, which ended with Price touching down in the fourth round and the towel being thrown in by the corner.
The Zimbabwe-born Londoner has already promised the same treatment to his 42nd opponent, stating: “I will chuck whatever I can chuck and bite down on the gumshield and catch this man.”
That statement matches his rudimentary style, unless he is holding back on some new secret skills developed during the past year since being managed by former rival, David Haye.
A generational boxing talent, it’s hard to see how Chisora could beat Usyk unless his tactics of throwing everything he can at the man will actually work for him.
Can a slick, skilful, proven world champion be toppled by such a primitive, straightforward game plan? Although the answer should be ‘no’, there’s still that little doubt in your mind that Chisora could trouble, not just Usyk, but anyone in the heavyweight division with his relentless and rough style.
Chisora: He will do exactly what his name suggests, by bringing the ‘WAR’! He’ll be straight in, closing the space, making the fight ugly, mauling him, pushing him, leaning on him, throwing anything and everything, looking to land big shots from anywhere he can. He will play the bully.
Usyk: He will be wise and intelligent, and use his feet, his superior movement, and aim to keep the range at his advantage where he can pick Chisora off and gradually tire, slow, and wear him down, where he will land an increasing number of combos and punches of variety from all different angles. He will play the genius.
Can Usyk take a heavyweight punch? He took a few flush from Chazz Witherspoon, who has 29 knockouts from 38 wins, which is a respectable 76% KO ratio. However, Witherspoon is only a domestic level fighter and therefore not a very accurate measuring stick, unfortunately.
Can Usyk deliver a heavyweight punch? He landed some big shots on Witherspoon, really rocking his head back at times, and it looked like there was going to be a stoppage but the fading fighter managed to throw just enough back to stay in there. Bellew had two fights up at heavyweight against a big puncher in David Haye but was stopped by Usyk in clinical fashion. Like Witherspoon, Usyk also has a 76% KO ratio.
Can Chisora’s tactics work? As crude and basic as they sound, marauding in and landing anything he can could actually work! Look at Marcos Maidana against Floyd Mayweather. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t polished, but it worked. Mayweather was roughed up and found it incredibly difficult to get into his stride and one judge ruled as a draw.
Chisora is experienced, tough, dangerous, and imposing. He will come forward and he will be a force to be reckoned with.
I can foresee a few tricky rounds for Usyk to start the fight with, but once he gets through the initial storm, he should comprehensively outbox the world title contender to win every round on the scorecards until he possibly overwhelms the Brit to force a stoppage towards the later rounds.
It’s hard to call because Usyk is still only one fight into his heavyweight journey, and Chisora is problem for any opponent he faces. Although Usyk, I believe, is levels above Chisora, could the Brit actually bite down on his gumshield – in his own words – and crash through with a few of his crude but powerful punches? Possibly, possibly not. You would go with the latter, if you had any sense.
On paper, Usyk should be able to deal with this difficult opponent to set up his WBO World title shot next year. There’s questions that are unanswered until that first bell sounds, but if I’m forced to make a prediction then I’d settle with a Usyk stoppage win in rounds 8-10.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Lee Selby vs George Kambosos Jr
Welshman Lee Selby (28-2, 9KOs) is aiming to challenge for another world title but first must get past undefeated Australian George Kambosos Jr (18-0, 10KOs) in a 12-round IBF World lightweight title final eliminator.
33-year-old ‘Lightning’ Lee was the IBF World featherweight champion between July 2017 to May 2018, when Leeds ‘Warrior’ Josh Warrington took it from him. It was clear that the featherweight could no longer make the 126lbs limit and moved up to win the IBF Inter-Continental lightweight title in his first fight back from defeat against American Omar Douglas (20-3, 14KOs). He then decisioned triple champion Ricky Burns in his last fight in October 2019 to reach no.4 in the IBF World rankings. His 31st opponent is above him in third place.
The ‘Ferocious’ Australian is 27-years-old and currently unbeaten in 18 bouts. He won the New South Wales title in his third fight, the Australian national belt in his sixth, and has also collected WBA and IBF regional honours during his seven-year pro career.
In his last fight, he defeated former IBF World lightweight champion Mickey Bey (23-3-1, 11KOs) at Madison Square Garden in December last year.
His recent scalps, although not notable names other than Bey, have been impressive in numbers. Since his step up to win the Australian title, every opponent has been a winning fighter, with a combined record of 227-53-15.
His moniker is well justified, he is ferocious and intimidating. His right uppercut that landed to knock down Mickey Bey was simply stunning and he very nearly stopped him in that last round.
Slickster Selby is also appropriately named, with his fast hands and fleet feet. Although known for skill over power, he has knocked out and stunned a few opponents cold with the one shot. His punch variety is very impressive, and his shots whipped into the body take the speed and spirit away from his ring rivals.
I think Selby’s skills are of the highest quality you can find in boxing, also known as ‘The Welsh Mayweather’, but if he can’t hurt Kambosos Jr early on in this contest, then there’s a very good chance that the Australian visitor is going to keep coming forward relentlessly and could be impossibly hard to deter.
I’m hoping for a Selby victory, of course, probably on points if it happens, but I’m pained to say that I think Kambosos Jr could pull of the upset purely with his power and persistent pressure.
The IBF bauble this pair are aiming to secure a shot at currently belongs to Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12KOs), who goes for greatness tonight against Vasyl Lomachenko (14-11, 10KOs) for all four world lightweight titles.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
David Allen vs Christian Hammer
Fan favourite Dave Allen (18-5-2, 15KOs) returns to action against Romanian-born German Christian Hammer (25-6, 15KOs) over 10 heavyweight rounds.
The former WBO European heavyweight champion, 33 from Hamburg, has defeats on his record to Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, Tyson Fury and Marius Wach. He has notable scalps over Erken Teper, David Price, Kevin Johnson and Michael Sprott.
28-year-old ‘White Rhino’ has also got a loss on his record to Luis Ortiz. Another shared opponent is the aforementioned David Price, who brutally beat up Allen forcing him to retire in round 10 of their WBA Continental championship contest.
Allen KO’s Dorian Darch in three rounds in his comeback fight in February to regain his confidence. He has further grown in self-belief since sparring with the headliner Oleksandr Usyk in Kiev recently, stating that the Ukrainian has “taken me to another level.”
If that statement is true, then I hope to see an improved fighter in Dave Allen, who I rate as a skilful heavyweight, who is always learning and developing.
I think it’s a hard one to call because you just never know which version of Allen is turning up. I think the fight could go either way, but I’m going to show faith in my fellow Brit and predict that he wins on points.
Amy Timlin vs Carly Skelly
Originally scheduled for October 2 at the Bowler's Exhibition Centre in Manchester, the Commonwealth Female super-bantamweight title fight between Amy Timlin (3-0) and Carly Skelly (4-0) now lands on the much bigger platform on Sky Sports.
Liverpool's Carly Skelly is managed by Everton Red Traingle head coach, Paul Stevenson, and the talented mother of two benefits from sparring with his stable of seven unbeaten fighters, as well as Olympian Peter McGrail. Boxing out of North Mersey ABC with trainer Sid Sidankey, Skelly is a full-time nurse that only began boxing aged 29 to take part in a charity event. Discovering her natural talent for the sport, she quickly became an amateur, reaching the ABA finals and representing England in a very short space of time. She turned pro in 2019 and has won all four fights so far.
Against Timlin, the 33-year-old faces a 20-year-old former world kickboxing champion, trained by Kieran Farrell and managed by Dave Coldwell.
Both female fighters have been training all through lockdown and will be equally prepared when fight night rolls around.
Timlin is the favourite to win, with youth on her side, but Skelly has warned the youngster, 13 years her junior, that she will not have felt the power from a more mature fighter before.
With not both fighters so early on in their respective careers, it's difficult to find accurate measuring sticks to compare their performances so far. They have two shared opponents, who they both beat on points.
Timlin is quick, with very fast hands, but she does leave her head there to be hit. Skelly is going to be slower than her younger opponent, but if she can land her powerful hooks from in close then she stands a chance of hurting Timlin and potentially causing an upset.
However, I'd expect a close points win to Timlin in this contest, with Skelly earning plaudits for her performance.