Oleksandr Usyk: Heavyweight Credentials Not Yet Proven
Saturday night probably left more questions unanswered than we would have thought pre-fight.
Oleksandr Usyk was expected to win and do so in some style. Derek Chisora was largely written off, 9 previous defeats didn’t bode well against the supposed heavyweight King in waiting.
Usyk won, and without doubt, but like his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon, it certainly wouldn’t have struck fear in the hearts of the likes of Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and maybe a few others as well.
Chisora started the better, but not as well as he needed. Usyk gradually took control, and the decision was a formality. Some may argue it was close, it wasn’t.
Usyk was better technically, he used his feet to great effect, and didn’t stay still long enough for Chisora to build on his early success.
But for Usyk, was it enough to silence the doubters to his heavyweight credentials. Ring rust might have partly contributed to his performance against Chisora, and if he had finished off what he started at the end of the 7th round when he had his opponent hurt, we might be having a different conversation today.
Chisora has been found wanting before and is probably only the 6th best British heavyweight at the moment. Chisora didn’t expose Usyk, but he left a lot of doubt, much tougher challenges lie in wait for the former cruiserweight champion.
Usyk will likely end up fighting for the vacant WBO title sometime early next year. Joshua, if he gets past Kubrat Pulev in December will surely target a showdown with Fury, and if that means vacating one or more of his belts, I believe he will do so.
The undisputed quest is understandable and is to be commended, but there will always be a mandatory to get in the way, fragmented titles are sadly inevitable. We don’t need belts to tell us who the best two heavyweights on the planet are.
Usyk will be a beneficiary from vacated titles, the WBO have him as their mandatory, and be it Joshua or not, he will get his opportunity to start replicating his cruiserweight days.
Daniel Dubois is ranked number two, and if he gets past Joe Joyce, he will be in prime position to fight for the vacant belt.
Joseph Parker currently resides just below Dubois, promotional connections and boxing politics could align to make Usyk vs Parker. Also on that same line of thought, if Dillian Whyte gets his revenge against Alexander Povetkin, don’t be surprised if Whyte vs Usyk gets made. It’s a fight of convenience in many ways.
Parker, Dubois or indeed Whyte will provide much sterner opposition than Chisora did on Saturday night. Usyk didn’t blow anybody away against Chisora, I’m not convinced what he showed us will be enough to beat Fury, Joshua or several other leading heavyweight contenders.
Usyk is a welcome addition to the heavyweight ranks, and definitely should not be discounted. Without true heavyweight size or power, will his admittedly high boxing IQ be enough? Better technically gifted fighters than Chisora will not allow Usyk the space or time he was allowed on Saturday night.
The jury is still very much out, and his success in his new home is by no means guaranteed. Usyk probably needed to show us a little more against Chisora, going forward he will definitely have to show us a lot more.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing