Oleksandr Usyk, a 2012 gold-winning Olympian and the former Cruiserweight undisputed champion, remained undefeated after besting Dereck Chisora to prove he’s a full-fledged Heavyweight
UNITED KINGDOM (October 31, 2020) — Oleksandr Usyk remains to be a problem for Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn and unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. The former undisputed Cruiserweight champion weathered the early storm of Dereck Chisora, and successfully boxed his way to a unanimous decision in a bout that was supposed to define Usyk’s threat level as a contender.
For Hearn and Joshua, who watched the fight ringside, Usyk’s win complicates the duo’s quest for a 2021 undisputed Heavyweight championship bout with WBC champion Tyson Fury. Maybe. The difficulty will ultimately be up to the decision makers at the WBO.
Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) couldn’t waste too much bandwidth on his claim to a shot at Joshua’s WBO title – not with his countryman Chisora (32-10, 23 KOs) running down on him from the first bell.
The early portion of the bout played out as many expected. Chisora attempted to bully his way inside to land a big shot and take out a fighter presumed to be too small for the division. Half of that equation took place. Usyk took a few of the shots, handling them relatively well, and then used his legs to evade others.
One of the benefits of the 2012 Olympic gold medalist weighing just 217 pounds was possessing a division-best motor. And, to use its many gears to quickly get to safer destinations inside the ring. Usyk, a southpaw, circled to his right constantly, flicked his jab, through some waving shots with his left hand and kept an eye on his opponent’s gas tank. As Chisora slowed down he made more stops and worked his own offense.
Usyk rarely stood still to present Chisora, a 36-year old from London, with a chance to brawl. But he landed heavier shots win possible, and gradually let his in-and-out attack become effective. The result was two-fold. Obviously he got inside to score with solid shots, but getting out made Chisora miss while also forcing him to exert energy to find Usyk again.
Usyk forced the issue in the late rounds as Chisora became more of a target. However, the older fighter fought tired better than expected, remained dangerous and his liveliness convinced the 33-year old southpaw to take the best approach to securing the decision. With the championship rounds still ahead, Usyk’s scoring could likely force Chisora into a deficit that could only be undone with a KO.
Usyk fought the smart fight. He took what Chisora’s fatigue helped present him. The Brit came on a bit over the final rounds, but Usyk stayed busy enough to get his hand raised and pick up the WBO Inter-Continental Title. And still remain a factor that needs to be addressed before anything can materialize between Joshua and Fury.
Chisora stalked Usyk from the first bell. The former undisputed Cruiserweight champion moved about before catching a big right hand from the Brit. Usyk stumbled back into the ropes after the blow landed high on Usyk’s chest. Usyk spent the balance of the round attempting to get settled.
The stalking continued in the second, but Usyk’s hands and feet were busier from the outset. Usyk through punches to make contact and disrupt Chisora from gathering himself. The Brit marched through the lighter shots, loaded up and unloaded big lunging shots when he got near.
The Ukrainian was on the move immediately in the third frame. He slipped a big shot and touched Chisora. Afterwards he continued to circle and stay focused on Chisora as he set up. Chisora ran into the ropes after an empty big swing just before the final minute. The pursuit seemed to start to sap the energy of Chisora, as he started to track Usyk with his mouth open. Usyk found Chisora’s body in the frame and landed a solid left hand.
Chisora tracked Usyk into a corner early in Round 4 to landed a solid right hand. Usyk was back on the move. The chase stopped at the top of the final minute, and Usyk moved forward looking to score. The got entangled with less than 30 seconds to go, and Usyk went down after a punch up top by Chisora. The ruling was a slip.
The Briton spent a stretch in the southpaw stance in Round 5. He worked his jab as Usyk circled around. Usyk turned Chisora and placed some shots during one of his more effective stints.
Both fighters occupied the center of the ring, briefly, at the opening of Round 6. Usyk moved out first and resumed working from outside. Chisora was back in his orthodox stance. Usyk winged a left hand that connected. Over the final half of the round Chisora chased the Ukrainian but landed little if anything of consequence.
The majority of Round 7 was relatively slow. Chisora started to fight Usyk and his own fatigue. Usyk finally got Chisora out of sorts enough to unleash his best flurry of the night to close the round. The Brit finished the round with his back on the ropes after Usyk’s spurt.
Usky was more direct in the eighth round, looking to take advantage of the slowed down Chisora. With under a minute to go, Usyk was on the move again, touching Chisora to keep him hoenst. Usyk’s in-and-out was noticeably more successful and left hand subtly rocked Chisora at the round’s end.
Early feinting by Usyk to open the ninth round. Chisora bounced on his toes for a few seconds. Chisora landed a right hand under the final minute, and Usyk nodded at him as he circled away.
Chisora fought throught his fatigue issue and rallied in the 10th. Usyk moved back outside and circled around the ring more so than the past few rounds.
Chisora took break early in the first championship round. Once he reengaged he started focusing on Usyk’s body. Usyk stepped away and dropped in a left hook on Chisora’s chin. Chisora popped Usyk with a jab before backing away appearing to be on an empty tank. Usyk flurried ahead of the bell, taking advantage of Chisora going flat.
Heading into the final round, the bout appeared to still be there for either man. Chisora barreled his way inside to indicate he had enough to finish the fight. Usky was slow to start. The two exchanged jabs just ahead of the final minute of the bout. Usyk backed up Chisora with a left hand that seemed to surprise him. The action never boiled over in the final stanza, but the two warriors acknowledged each other’s effort, and eventually shared a smile.
Chisora knew what he accomplished with properly challenging the division’s high-profile newcomer. Usyk raised his hands and let out a few shouts as he circled the ring confident in being victorious.
The cards weren’t announced but the ring announcer informed the audience the decision was unanimously in Usyk’s favor.
All photos by Mark Robinson/Matchroom