Saturday evening saw former undisputed and unified Cruiserweight champion Aleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) take a step towards a Heavyweight title against perennial title contender, Dereck Chisora (32-10, 23 KOs). The bout took place in the UK and streamed live on DAZN in the United States.
Prior to the fight it was evident that Chisora would likely need to score a knockout to secure a victory over the superior boxer in Usyk. Early in the bout it was clear that “War” Chisora was going to bring the fight to the Ukrainian.
Chisora certainly found success in the first two rounds, landing thudding blows, making for great entertainment for the fans and plenty of discomfort for the heavy favorite.
However, it wasn’t clear how long Chisora would be able to keep up the rampant pressure and pace. Regardless, during those early rounds, Chisora controlled the pace and landed big shots, making Usyk very uncomfortable and ensuring that he was out of his element.
In the latter part of the third round, Chisora looked nearly spent. At every break he took visible deep breaths, and although he continued to walk forward, it was clear that Usyk was getting his feet under him as the bigger man began to tire.
To Chisora’s credit, every time he stood up from his stool, he came hard at the former Olympian attempting to smother him with his larger frame. However, as the fight progressed, Usyk was able to effectively utilize his footwork to stay away from trouble and deliver some effective counter punching.
What appeared to be a fading Chisora turned out to be a consistently dangerous and pressing opponent for Usyk’s introduction to the elite ranks of the Heavyweight division. Chisora did begin to slow clearly in the seventh round, with Usyk landing combinations that rocked his opponent right before the end of the round.
Usyk’s feet were firmly under him beginning in the seventh round, essentially picking his shots and landing at a high percentage. In the eighth round, Chisora’s chin was tested to the fullest extent in several instances. It appeared that it would only be moments until Usyk would put away the heavy hitter, but Chisora proved to be a tough out for the new Heavyweight.
What some may have expected a cakewalk for the superior boxer looked to be a slugfest at moments. Even later in the fight, when Usyk had taken more control of the bout, Chisora was able to find some success at making the fight rough in the 10th round.
If not the statement Usyk was looking for, he was still able to notch a win against a top Heavyweight opponent who was unwilling to keel over and accept defeat at any point of a hard-fought contest.
It will certainly be interesting to see who Usyk is matched up with again, particularly following what was a somewhat underwhelming performance, which is a statement based solely on the expectations that have been placed on the Ukranian and not a discredit to this hard fought victory.