Former undisputed Cruiserweight champion makes his move up to Heavyweight versus Chazz Witherspoon at DePaul University’s Wintrust Arena
CHICAGO — (October 13) Oleksandr Usyk’s Heavyweight debut was a highly-anticipated move in boxing, a former undisputed Cruiserweight champion in search of a new field of opponents to defeat – in a rekindled division. On short notice, Philadelphia’s Chazz Witherspoon (38-3, 29 KOs) served as the division’s one-man welcoming committee Saturday night at Wintrust Arena.
Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) opened the fight moving well on his toes while mixing in a great deal of feints, jabs and raking shots to attempt to move Witherspoon’s guard out of the way. The Ukrainian southpaw was also able to move in and out while avoiding Witherspoon’s right hand.
In the third Usyk picked up the pace and found openings for his left hand on both Witherspoon’s body and head. Witherspoon attempted to fend Usyk off with his jab, but rarely was able to find him with much of anything else. Uysk circled to his right creating angles that produced great targets while nearly making it impossible for Witherspoon to land with his right hand.
Witherspoon did catch Usky with a counterpunch in the fourth round as Usyk pinned him in a neutral corner. Usyk quickly moved back a step, but Witherspoon didn’t rush to follow. The former Cruiserweight really unleashed his offensive arsenal in the fifth and six rounds, and Witherspoon struggled with the pressure caused by the variety of punches. At the end of the sixth Witherspoon’s right eye started to swell.
Usyk continued to force the action into the seventh, and he began finding Witherspoon’s head with a high percentage of his power punches. At age 38 compounded with just four fights since August 2015, Witherspoon was unable to rally in a manner that would squelch Usyk’s momentum. After a long visit to the Witherspoon corner by the referee after Usyk’s big seventh round, the corner informed the Hector Afu that Witherspoon could not continue.
Usky’s Heavyweight debut was obviously successful, and went off with few mistakes, but he may learn more about the division’s inherent dangers more so in his next outing. But, seeing him back in action, healthy, bodes well for the next 12-18 months in the increasingly competitive division.
Dmitry Bivol defended his WBA Light Heavyweight title against Lenin Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs), having very little trouble on the way to win No. 17 behind score cards of 120-107, and 119-108 on two cards. The most exciting moment of the 12-rounder came in the sixth round when a counter right hand from Bivol caught Castillo flush on the chin that sent Castillo down to the canvas for the fight’s lone knockdown.
Bivol patted his jab a lot throughout the fight, occasionally banged Lenin’s body with hooks, but Lenin offered very little in return. In the ninth the Dominican landed his best sequence of punches with a short two-punch right hand-left hook combination to Bivol’s head.
Bivol played it safe through the balance of the fight, landing enough shots to steady rack up rounds while Lenin continued to follow and wait. Bivol answered some questions in the ring amid a shower of boos from the crowd just moments after the wide decision was announced 120-107, 119-108, and 119-108 in his favor.
WBA and WBC Super Lightweight Jessica McCaskill (8-2, 3 KOs) and Erica Farias (26-4, 10 KOs) failed to match the drama that transpired in their first fight last October at Wintrust Arena. Farias appeared to establish space and pace to her liking early on, and she was able to make McCaskill miss and pay.
After the third the fight became sloppier and continued to worsen. Both women were deducted points for fouls, and the action rarely went beyond a punch or two before there was a clinch. The choppy stop-and-go action was difficult to judge, but ultimately McCaskill retained her two titles with a majority decision.
In a Super Middleweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds, Anthony Sims Jr completely outclassed Morgan Fitch (19-4-1, 8 KOs) en route to his 20th win – 18th by KO. Sims scored two knockdowns in the first frame, with the first being a delayed reaction following a single right hand.
In the second round Fitch landed a well-timed thudding shot with this back hand but Sims pressed through it. Fitch got into a bit of rhythm in the second round, and maintained a good level of aggression in the third. Sims boxed well throughout rounds 3-5, varying his power and outmaneuvered Fitch with some excellent footwork. In the sixth Sims scored another knockdown, and during the count he advised Fitch’s corner to stop the bout. When the fight resumed Sims forced the referee to step in and bring the fight to an end behind a flurry for which Fitch had no answers.
Charles Conwell (11-0, 8) and Patrick Day (17-4-1, 6 KOs) engaged in nine rounds of solid back-and-forth Super Welterweight action. Conwell was looking for an impressive win to further elevate his profile, and to parlay his USBA title into contender status. The fight was Day’s first match since June when he dropped a wide decision loss to Carlos Adames, a rising talent ranked in the Top 5 for the four major sanctioning bodies.
Day started out well jabbing and mixing in crisp combinations with finishing punches to Conwell’s body. His commitment to the body work made him susceptible to Conwell’s work up top, which frequently looked like the more effective punches.
In the fourth round Conwell, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, dropped Day with a lead straight right. Once the action resumed Day recovered well and regrouped, tactically, by focusing on a successful body attack. The 21-year old Cleveland native pressed his way inside and unloaded one of his bigger combinations in the final minute.
Day visited the canvas a second time in the eighth round after Conway fired another straight right hand behind a jab that briefly blinded him. A round later Day started to show signs that Conwell’s pressure and punishment was taking its toll. Conwell caught Day with a sequence of punches including a booming right hand that sent Day retreating away, but Conwell followed him out at a flatter angle, and he connected with a vicious left hook that knocked the 27-year old New York native completely out.
The referee quickly waved the bout off, and emergency personal moved into the ring immediately to attend to Day. He was stretchered out of the ring and taken to a local hospital for further medical attention.
T.J. Doheny (22-1, 16 KOs) relied on a vicious body attack to set up openings for his back hand to break down Jesus Martinez (26-10, 13 KOs) over five rounds of Super Bantamweight action. A right-left combination to Martinez’ head knocked the Colombian back into the ropes. The referee ruled it a knock down, halted the action and started a count.
Doheny unleashed a vicious body attack about midway through the first round, switching up from jabs he shot to the body in the first minute.
CHECK OUT FORMER SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION T.J. DOHENY, FROM CHICAGO’S WINTRUST ARENA, BREAKING DOWN HIS FIRST FIGHT SINCE LOSING HIS TITLE TO DANNY ROMAN.
Doheny’s upper body movement gave Martinez trouble with landing his looping shots, but occasionally he caught Doheny with an overhand left. Martinez’ power deterred Doheny very little, and the effects of the body work slowed Martinez down over rounds three, four and five.
In the fifth and final round Martinez looked to work from the outside and tried to counter Doheny. With his momentum building Doheny connected with a wide arcing left hook that knocked Martinez backwards into the ropes. The referee stepped in again for a 10-count.
The action resumed but Martinez’ repeated looks to his corner during the counted hinted that the end of the bout might be near. Moments later, at the end of the round, Doheny landed a short left hook inside followed by a right hand that missed as Martinez staggered backwards. The ref followed him back to his corner for a longer look. Moments later the Martinez corner informed the ref their fighter would not be continuing into the sixth.
Also in action
Super Featherweight Otha Jones III defeated Eric Manriquez via majority decision with one judge scoring the fight 38-38. In the night’s first bout Summer Lynn won her debut bout, defeating Jenna Johlin Thompson in four rounds of Welterweight action. Toronto’s Arthur Biyarslanov won a decision over Tyrome Jones in a six-round Super Lightweight contest.
Featured photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing