THE first fight at heavyweight for world cruiserweight champions like Oleksandr Usyk is always designed to test the terrain. It’s generally a careful step to ensure the subsequent step, an altogether more dangerous one, can be taken confidently.
Taking the theme to extremes, Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian ring wizard whose arrival in the banner division has long been craved, walked through a plucky but overmatched Chazz Witherspoon in seven rounds inside the Chicago Wintrust Arena.
But how much benefit Usyk himself will have received from such a cautious bedding-in has justifiably been questioned by the cynics. Particularly as the 32-year-old, mandatory challenger with the World Boxing Organisation, could end up facing one of the champions in his next outing. Witherspoon to Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury would ordinarily be a preposterous step, after all.