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.
War and Peace
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 Christopher Lovejoy
Fan favourite Dave Allen (18-5-2, 15KOs) returns to action against American KO artist Christopher Lovejoy (19-0, 19KOs).
The Californian has stopped all 19 of his opponents, which is clearly a fearsome and impressive stat, but only one of those foes actually had a winning record. However, his last four wins were all in the first round.
28-year-old ‘White Rhino’ was brutally beaten up by David Price, 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.
Lovejoy is clearly a strong puncher, sho he deserves respect. there's barely any footage of him fighting or training anywhere so it's hard to tell how good he actually is. He's talking about getting in the ring with some big names so he clearly believes he belongs at the top level. From what little footage I have seen, I can't find anything that proves he can mix it with Dave Allen. I think he's more of a pretender than contender and Allen should be on another level. With the skills that he has got, he should be able to outbox Lovejoy confortably but will always need to be wary of his opponent's power.
I think Allen wins this fight by stoppage.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
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, which could suggest they are of similar ability.
Timlin is quick, with very fast hands, but she does leave her head there to be hit. Skelly is inevitably going to be slightly slower than her younger opponent, but if she can land her powerful hooks from in close then she stands a chance of hurting Timlin, slowing her down, and potentially causing an upset.
I like Carly and think she is an inspiration to many others out there. Starting so late in the sport but achieving so much in so little time is truly remarkable. I will be hoping to see her lift the Commonwealth title to cap off a great story and although I believe she has the power to stop Timlin, I'd be expecting a close points win to Amy in this contest, with the youth and experience on her side, with Skelly earning plaudits for her performance.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Savannah Marshall vs Hannah Rankin
Originally scheduled for the Lewis Ritson vs Miguel Vasquez undercard, Savannah Marshall (8-0, 6KOs) will take on Hannah Rankin (9-4, 2KOs) in the rescheduled middleweight clash for the WBO world middleweight belt.
'Silent Assassin' Marshall, trained by Peter Fury, has gone from strength to strength in her professional career, having initally become Britain's first ever world female champion, and has claimed some top scalps during her career including superstar Claressa Shields.
Scottish opponent Rankin has never been stopped and has fought tooth and nail throughout her career to get to the top level having been former IBO super welterweight champion, but has rarely beaten anyone of top level pedigree during her three-year professional career, leading to back and forth comments traded between the two in the build up.
Powerful Marshall has six KO's from eight wins and will be extremely keen to end this fight early and bag her first world title, with an extremely fiery brawl expected between the pair, as Rankin looks to prove herself at the top level after going down on the scorecards herself to Claressa Shields back in 2018.
Marshall is rightfully the favourite and should prevail on points, pushing her closer to a dream date with former rival Shields.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Kash Farooq vs Martin Tecuapetla
Scottish superstar Kash Farooq (13-1, 6KOs) returns to the ring following his first defeat to Lee McGregor almost a year earlier last November in their 'winner-takes-all' British and Commonwealth bantamweight title clash, which ended in a split decision.
The Pakistan-born 24-year-old will face Mexican Martin Tecaupetla (15-12-4, 10KOs) in what should be a routine welcoming to Matchroom Boxing, after signing with the boxing behemoth last December straight after his brilliant performance against McGregor.
Despite the South American's checkered record, 'Diablo Tecua' is world title contender - he took Akira Yaegashi to a split decision in 2017 for the IBF World flyweight title. UK fight fans may remember the 30-year-old from his fight with Tommy Frank last November for the IBO Inter-Continental flyweight title, which the Sheffield man won by UD.
However, he has only wn two from his last 10 fights, but has only been stopped twice in 32 bouts, so should provide Farooq with some rounds. It was formidable puncher Julio Cesar Martinez, the current WBC World flyweight champion, that last managed to halt Tecaupetla in round four of their scheduled six-rounder in December 2012. Remarkably, the Mexican, managed by British matchmaker Derek Waddell, managed to score an impressive upset over then-unbeaten American Dewayne Beamon (15-0-1 at the time) in his next fight, who recently challenged for a world title.
So he has done plenty during his 10-year career to gain respect from Farooq, but the Scot will still be fresher and better, and very eager to impress on his Matchroom debut. He aims to show off all that he has learnt in the wake of his sole defeat and to show fans something different on Halloween night. A points win to Farooq would likely be a safe bet, but there's also a chance he could score a stoppage.
Tommy McCarthy vs Bilal Laggoune
Belfast boxer Tommy McCarthy (16-2, 8KOs) will contest the European cruiserweight championship against once-beaten Belgian Bilal Laggoune (25-1-2, 14KOs).
Both fighters are on a good run, with 'Mac Attack' on a hat-trick of victories since defeat to Richard Riakporhe in March 2019, and Laggoune boasting a five-fight win streak.
Their mutual momentum and confidence should make for a fantastic contest for the prestigious European crown that was formerly held by Lawrence Okolie.
Laggoune has not only had 10 more pro fights than McCarthy, but he has also got vaster experience having contested the EBU belt once before in 2015, which ended in a stalemate with Ukrainian Dmytro Kucher, who was responsible for sending Enzo Maccarinelli into retirement.
Trained by Brian Magee, NI's McCarthy was a Commonwealth Games silver medallist in 2010, and has unquestionable boxing ability, and has only lost to two top crusierweights in Matty Askin and Riakporhe.
Laggoune is heavy handed but he can be outboxed and that is what Tommy will be expected to do in this intruigingly close contest.
Betting Odds Supplied by Star Sports
Ramla Ali vs Eva Hubmeyer
Remarkable Ramla Ali has signed a multi-fight promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing and is also part of Anthony Joshua's 258 management label, already appearing in TV commercials and magazine front covers, she is all set to become the next female superstar.
Ramla is trained by her husband Richard Moore, as well as Jobi Clayton, at the BoxClever Gym in Ladbroke Grove, London, and will compete at Super-Bantamweight.
Ali’s family fled war-torn Somalia as refugees after her brother had already been killed. Settling in London, she initially kept her boxing training a secret for fear her family would disapprove of the pastime for a Muslim girl, and soon became the first female Muslim boxer to win an English Title (in 2015 and 2016, as well as the GB Championships) before deciding to represent Somalia in 2017. She now hopes to follow up that feat to become Somalia's first ever World Champion.
She tackles winning fighter Eva Hubmayer (1-0, 1KO), 34 from Germany, who scored a first-round stoppage in her debut very recently in July.