THE former undisputed cruiserweight and London 2012 Olympic gold medallist, Ukraine’s excellent Oleksandr Usyk remains the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBO heavyweight title. But he had to battle through 12 punishing rounds with Dereck Chisora at Wembley arena in London on Saturday (October 31).
Chisora set a tremendous pace from the opening bell, barrelling into Usyk, closing down his space and banging his heavy right hook over the top. For an elusive fighter, throughout the night, Usyk would let too many of those solid rights through.
Chisora kept up his thunderous assaults for the first three rounds but Usyk moved constantly. Quick and clever on his feet, the Ukrainian darted from side to side, working round him as he plied Chisora with right jabs and shot in accurate left crosses. As Chisora tired in the middle rounds, Usyk began to strike him back, rocking him in the seventh.
But even though he was racking up rounds, Usyk didn’t have the same one-punch power as a true heavyweight. He outmanouvred Chisora, sweeping his left hook into the head, wearing Dereck down. Chisora however remained stubbornly determined for the full 12 rounds.
Usyk won a unanimous decision, 117-112 and 115-113 twice.
Chisora was left frustrated with the result. “100 percent, I was pushing the pace,” he said afterwards. “But the judges saw it a different way… Gutted”
Usyk was the rightful winner. He came through a tough challenge with ringcraft and clever, accurate punching. But whether that will be enough to overcome a bigger, fresher, higher calibre, more powerful heavyweight, like Anthony Joshua, remains an unanswered question.
After the fight Usyk rated his own performance a three out of 10. “It’s a real test at heavyweight. Chisora’s a big guy, hard guy,” he said.
But he remains determined to beat Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight crown. His goal, Usyk says, is clear: “not just world champion. Undisputed world champion.”
On the undercard, Savannah Marshall outclassed Hannah Rankin to win the WBO middleweight world title, hammering out a stoppage victory inside seven rounds.
Australia’s George Kambosos overcame Lee Selby in an eliminator for the IBF lightweight world title, outpointing the Welshman on a deserved split decision. Tommy McCarthy became the European cruiserweight champion as he tamed Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune, winning by majority decision.
Amy Timlin and Carly Skelly drew in a Commonwealth super-bantamweight title fight. Ramla Ali, Somalia’s first international amateur boxer, made her pro debut. Eva Hubmayer was out of her depth, but Ali kept the shape to her boxing and was far too good, winning their six-twos clearly.