Big Fight Preview: Usyk vs Chisora
By Oliver McManus
Tonight sees a heavyweight encounter that has been a long-time coming: postponed six months by the pandemic that saw boxing shutdown. Oleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion, has his second bout as a heavyweight and does so against a man who just loves to be the villain.
Derek Chisora has managed to remain a live player in the heavyweight division perhaps beyond expectation. The former European champion, and world title challenger, is still a legitimate banana skin for heavyweights across the globe.
Having suffered nine career losses there has been something of a resurgence after a very disappointing performance against Agit Kabayel in 2017. His status has, no doubt, been enhanced by the part he played in two gun-slinging encounters with Dillian Whyte in which he should have won their first fight and was ahead until getting stopped in the second.
And to that end there is little Chisora can spring upon Usyk that will be a surprise. We know what we’re getting when the 36 year old signs up for a fight. He inks that contract to be the antagonist: to provoke, to draw attention and, by all means, to do absolutely everything possible to tear up the script. Devastating knockouts over Carlos Takam, Artur Szpilka and David Price have kept Chisora loose and in good form. His power certainly remains as terrifying as ever.
Equally terrifying, in reality, is just about everything related to Oleksandr Usyk. The Ukranian is cold-blooded and yet intensely likeable. People question his ability in the heavyweight ranks – “it’s a completely different game” they remark – but Usyk is a highly skilled, highly punishing fighter more than capable of making that transition.
There is always an element to his gameplan that, yes, he may start a little slowly or create a false sense of comfort and security for his opponent but, when he senses the time is right, the intensity can be cranked up in an instant. Just ask Tony Bellew who was poleaxed with, essentially, the shrug of one of Usyk’s imperious shoulders.
It’s an unoriginal observation to say Derek Chisora will apply pressure on in the early rounds in a bid to scramble the psyche of Usyk. Chisora will seek to land those booming, blind-sided shots that have earned him such success over the past couple of years.
Ultimately, though, you suspect this is little more than a bout in which Oleksandr Usyk can ‘tick the boxes’ and ‘answer any last remaining questions’ with little more than minor fuss.
The build-up to this fight has been entertaining – it always is when Derek Chisora is involved – if a little worn out and rehearsed. Hopefully fight night will be a little more unpredictable but don’t hold your breath.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing