Usyk vs. Witherspoon & Bivol vs. Castillo – official weights
By Allan Fox: Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) and Chazz Witherspoon (38-3, 29 KOs) weighed on Friday for Saturday’s fight on DAZN at the Winstrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Usyk weighed in at 215 pounds for his heavyweight debut against 38-year-old war horse Witherspoon. For his part, Witherspoon weighed in at 242 pounds.
Surprisingly, Witherspoon looked in the better condition than Usyk despite being 27 pounds heavier. Witherspoon just has a bigger frame than Usyk. In other words, he’s a legitimate heavyweight. Usyk is still going to likely easily win the fight, because this is showcase match-up. The 6’3″ Usyk doesn’t possess the size or the punching power to stand and trade with the lions in the heavyweight division. Usyk’s best hope of finding success in the new weight class is for him to outbox his opponents.
Chazz Witherspoon replaces Tyrone Spong
Witherspoon was brought in as the late minute replacement for Tyrone Spong. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is choosing not to match Usyk against a dangerous fighter in his debut, because he’s the WBO mandatory challenger to Andy Ruiz Jr.
This should be an interesting fight to see how good Usyk looks. If he can’t dominate a fighter past his best like Witherspoon, then it’s a pretty good sign that he’s not going to do well at heavyweight. Witherspoon hasn’t fought a world class opponent in seven years since losing to former football player Seth Mitchell by a 3rd round knockout in April 2012.
Mitchell was then knocked out in the 2nd round in his next fight against Johnathon Bank in 2012. For Witherspoon, he never was one of the elite heavyweights during his prime from 2007 to 2012.
There’s a lot of hype around Usyk right now, as he’s a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, and he previously unified the cruiserweight division. However, didn’t look good in his toughest fights in that weight class against Tony Bellew, Mairis Briedis and Michael Hunter. Usyk won the fights, but he was booed by the boxing fans and failed to dominate them.
Usyk moving up without looking strong
When a cruiserweight moves up to heavyweight, it’s crucial that they show that they’re dominating their opposition before making that move. Usyk failed to do that. Arguably his best win over his six-year pro career at cruiserweight was against Murat Gassiev in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in July 2018. That was a boring fight to watch for a lot of fans.
When you think of former cruiserweight champions that did well at heavyweight, Evander Holyfield comes to mind. He’s someone that was overpowering at cruiserweight, and he had the power, chin and work rate to win at the heavyweight level. Holyfield’s lack of size is what ultimately proved to be his undoing when he stepped it up against the super heavyweights Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis.
Usyk has technically already fought at heavyweight in the World Series of Boxing. He beat the following fighters:
- Junior Fa
- Eric Brechlin
- Joe Joyce
- Magomedrasul Majidov
- Matteo Modugno
- Mihai Nistor
Note: Usyk had a lot of problems in beating Joyce by a 3 round decision. Joyce had Usyk’s face looking beet red by the end of the short fight, and he was getting to him with his pressure and size. This was when Joyce weighed only 231 lbs. Joyce had improved greatly since bulking up to the 250s. If Usyk can’t improve over when he showed in the Joyce fight, he’s not going to be successful at heavyweight.
Usyk will still get a lot of money for his challenging the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. rematch, but he’s going to have a difficult time trying to win world titles in the weight class. Usyk’s best hope is to capture the WBA secondary heavyweight strap, which is currently held by Manuel Charr. That’s a belt that Usyk can likely win, but he’s going to have a lot of problems trying to defeat Joshua, Ruiz or Deontay Wilder.
Dmitry Bivol vs. Lenin Castillo
The Matchroom card is a weak one for the most part. Besides the mismatch between Usyk and Witherspoon, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11 KOs) will be defending his title against fringe contender Lenin Castillo (20-2, 15 KOs). Bivol weighed in at 174.3 lbs. for his sixth title defense against #12 WBO Castillo. Bivol has looked great lately in defeating former WBC 175-lb champion Jean Pascal, and Joe Smith Jr. Castillo weighed in at 175 pounds.
Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn says the reason he chose to match Bivol against Castillo is because light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk are tied up with a unification fight between them on October 18. Hearn wants to match Bivol against the winner of the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight as soon as possible, but for now he’s got him defending against the 31-year-old Castillo.
In the one time that Castillo attempted to step it up against an elite level opponent, he was beaten by Marcus Browne by a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision last year in August 2018. Castillo looked completely over-matched against Browne, which isn’t surprising considering that he’d never fought a talented contender before.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) October 12, 2019
In other weights on the Usyk vs. Witherspoon card:
Jessica McCaskill 138.7 vs. Erica Anabella Farias 138.1
Charles Conwell 153.8 vs. Patrick Day 153.7
Joshuah Hernandez 130 vs. Giovanni Mioletti 131
Anthony Sims Jr 168.5 vs. Morgan Fitch 167.5
TJ Doheny 124 vs. Jesus Martinez 124
Movladdin Biyarslanov 137 vs. Tyrome Jones 136
Otha Jones III 129 vs. Eric Manriquez 130
Reshat Mati 151 vs. Norfleet Stitts 150.5
Jenna Thompson 147 vs. Summer Lynn 147
🔜 THE HEAVYWEIGHT DEBUT 😈 #UsykWitherspoon
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) October 12, 2019
More Boxing News:
- Oleksandr Usyk looking SLIM training for Dereck Chisora fight at O2
- Eddie Hearn says Joshua vs. Pulev possible for November at O2
- We would welcome a WBO shot against Usyk, says Joseph Parker’s trainer Barry
- Anthony Joshua may lose WBO title, Usyk wants his title shot
- Usyk’s promoter reacts to Arum saying he should fight Whyte to prove mandatory status
- Emanuel Navarrete set to move up to 126
- Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez moved to October 3 in Las Vegas
- Ryan Garcia dares Golden Boy to RELEASE him if they don’t believe in his abilities
- Floyd Mayweather Jr hinting about an exhibition fight in 2020
- Sergiy Derevyanchenko the #1 option for Canelo Alvarez on Sept.12