Oleksandr Usyk cemented his claim for a shot at Anthony Joshua’s WBO world heavyweight title with a unanimous points victory over Dereck Chisora on Saturday night.
The brilliant Ukrainian retained his status as mandatory for Joshua’s belt by overcoming a valiant effort by the 36-year-old Chisora (now 32-10) at Wembley Arena.
Usyk (now 18-0) had only had one previous fight at heavyweight after dominating the cruiserweight division. But that victory over Chazz Witherspoon last October told us little.
This was a much sterner test for the man from Kiev, against a seasoned veteran who outweighed him by almost three stones.
But he came through it relatively comfortably, despite a valiant effort from the man from Finchley.
Usyk vs Chisora analysis
Chisora admitted beforehand that he could not win a boxing match against Usyk. And true to his word he was constantly pressing in a bid to make it a war instead.
It was the classic matador vs bull matchup, as the slick southpaw Usyk showed beautiful footwork and speed to avoid the majority of Chisora’s winging right hands, while landing counters at will.
Chisora started well and at a frenetic pace, constantly pushing Usyk back. But that pace could not last, and gradually Usyk began to get on top.
The seventh round appeared to be a turning point, with Chisora clearly staggered by a powerful flurry from Usyk as the session ended.
But ‘Del Boy’ regrouped superbly to come again, and in the closing stages was still attempting to get close enough to land that one elusive big shot.
Usyk vs Chisora scorecards
The scorecards, while conclusive, were by no means embarrassing for Chisora, who outperformed his pre-fight odds of 9/2 (Usyk was a 1/8 favourite). But Usyk came out on top by scores of 117-112 and 115-113 twice.
Afterwards Usyk was clearly not satisfied with his own performance – when asked to rate it out of 10 his answer was “three”.
He told Sky Sports: “It was a real heavyweight test.Chisora is a big guy and a hard guy. I was expecting a fight like that, I was expecting an even tougher fight.”
Usyk clearly believes his goal of reigning in a second weight division is alive and well, saying of his heavyweight ambitions: “Not just world champion. Undisputed world champion.”
Chisora meanwhile was extremely disappointed not to get the nod, saying: “Yes, 100 percent. I was pushing the pace. Yeah I gave a couple of rounds away. The judges saw it a different way. I’m just disappointed.”
Joshua was ringside to see the bout, and while Usyk came out victorious, AJ surely came away with few fears about what he saw.
Yes the Ukrainian again showcased his brilliant boxing skills and showed he can indeed beat a big, seasoned heavyweight. But Joshua or Tyson Fury are a different level again – and Usyk has much more to prove yet to show he can swim in those waters.
Joshua meets Kubrat Pulev on Saturday December 12 (live on Sky Sports Box Office and DAZN). And if he wins the WBO must then decide if he has to face Usyk, or potentially vacate his title to face Fury instead.