Usyk vs Chisora: Heavyweight Hopes
For Oleksandr Usyk, whatever he has previously achieved in his so far unblemished and impressive career, is now largely irrelevant.
The cruiserweight resume deserves respect, but like Evander Holyfield before him, respect in another weight division will have to be earned.
The heavily-hyped heavyweight run has been one of frustration so far. Injuries and the ongoing pandemic have delayed the journey. Chazz Witherspoon late last year was just a case of dipping his toe in the water, the starter before the main course.
Witherspoon was dispatched, but Usyk didn’t really shine in the manner that was expected. Questions remain, and his opponent on Saturday night will give Usyk all the answers to his heavyweight future.
Derek Chisora has failed before in the moments that matter, but should not be expected to repeat what has gone before. This seems a different more relaxed and better prepared Chisora. Somewhere deep within he probably realises it’s now or never, one last run at glory.
Chisora 36, with 9 defeats in 41 fights, is unlikely to be repackaged again, the division is too crowded, a 10th defeat probably assigns him to being the irrelevant British heavyweight on the world stage.
Usyk (17-0) if he proves his relevance in his new home, could make the nearly man the forgotten man, Chisora could land in the land of obscurity.
But the solitude of lockdown appears to have been kind to Chisora. Without the normal distractions of life, he seems in a good place, could he, in the Indian Summer of his career, get the biggest win of his boxing life.
Chisora has the style, the size, and strength to give Usyk a highly uncomfortable evening, a real and defining heavyweight gut check. It has similarities to Holyfield when he took on Michael Dokes all those years ago. Holyfield came through, but Dokes gave him a real test, Chisora could do the same, maybe even more so.
Usyk at 33, is the younger, fresher fighter and dreams of Anthony Joshua and replication of his cruiserweight days. But Chisora at 5-1 to upset those plans, seems incredible value to me.
It’s a fight of fine margins and high reward. A win and Chisora probably lands another shot at the heavyweight championship of the world, a loss and the road to nowhere beckons. The difference between winning and losing never more apparent.
Against Dokes, Holyfield proved his worth, Chisora will show if Usyk is the real deal or just an illusion of heavyweight hope. An elite cruiserweight doesn’t always make an elite heavyweight.
Usyk vs Chisora is a fight of real importance and intrigue, with the smell of an upset in the air. Chisora may be too physically strong for the heavyweight hopeful, he could bully him out of it. Chisora brings power, and maybe crucially, pressure.
A Chisora win is far more likely than the official betting line would suggest. The Brit certainly fits the description of a live underdog.
But sometimes in life, you leave it too late, and that extra little finesse and better technical ability of Usyk could cancel out the good start Chisora will undoubtedly make, and needs. Class often prevails, it probably will again.
Usyk knows what to expect, and a victory in a similar manner to the Tony Bellew fight is ever so slightly the more sensible pick. Dokes gave Holyfield hell before the last remnants of what remained left his body, Chisora might fall in a similar manner.
But if Chisora doesn’t fade away the way Bellew did, Usyk’s heavyweight aspirations could be exposed far more quickly than he would have anticipated. It could be a long and humbling night for Usyk, if the Chisora well doesn’t run dry.
In many ways, Chisora is both the right and wrong opponent for him. Chisora might just have the right style to unsettle Usyk all night long. But if Usyk does come out the other side, and impressively so, he sends out a clear warning to the top tier of the heavyweight division. Chisora comes with respected credentials, a win for Usyk and the threat to his new rivals becomes loud and clear.