Eddie Hearn working on Usyk vs. Chisora fight for February
By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn said earlier today that he talked to Oleksandr Usyk and he’s looking to get his fight with Derek Chisora “Over the finish line” for February.
Hearn reveals that the former unified cruiserweight champion Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) felt that after his heavyweight debut against 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon last October, that he was in need of added bulk to his 6’3″ frame.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk weighed in at 215 lbs. for that fight, and he looked weak even by cruiserweight standards. Witherspoon marked Usyk up with the few punches he landed in the fight before bowing out after round 7, and it was from an inspiring performance from the Ukrainian.
Is Usyk’s heavyweight experiment all about money?
Some boxing fans believe Usyk is just looking for a big cash out fight at heavyweight, and then he’ll retire after he loses. Usyk is about to turn 33, and not young for a fighter with no power moving up to heavyweight. The WBO did Usyk a big favor in making him the mandatory at heavyweight without him having to earn the spot like other fighters. The mandatory was given to Usyk due to him being the WBO’s cruiserweight champion.
The unfortunate thing about that is without on the job training against quality heavyweights, there’s a good chance of failure. If Usyk gets trounced by Anthony Joshua or Andy Ruiz Jr., the money he gets for the fight will have him crying all the way to the bank.
Usyk’s debut at heavyweight pales in comparison to Evander Holyfield’s debut in that weight class in July 1988 against James ‘Quick’ Tillis. Holyfield, who moved up from cruiserweight, stopped Tillis in the 5th, and looked powerful. Usyk is often compared to Holyfield, but he looked NOTHING like him. In contrast, Usyk appeared weak, slow and not capable of beating an elite level heavyweight.
Obviously, Usyk isn’t the same kind of talent as Holyfield. He’s more of a Chris Byrd or Jimmy Young type of heavyweight. In other words, a light-hitting finesse type of heavyweight with average power. Hearn talks about Usyk being fast of hand, but that’s NOT the case. Usyk has average hand speed at best, and very little power. It’s obvious that Usyk is going to have MAJOR problems when he faces anyone good at heavyweight.
Usyk vs. Chisora still being negotiated – Hearn
“I was just back stage talking to Usyk, trying to get the Chisora fight over the finish line in February,” said Hearn to Matchroom Boxing. “That’s a big heavyweight fight. Usyk is now established as a big star in the UK. I think after the [Chazz] Witherspoon fight, he felt like he needed to put some more mass on. Will that slow him down, and will that increase his power?
“What we saw in the Witherspoon fight, no disrespect to Chazz, not a solid world class heavyweight, was that size was an issue. He [Usyk] got a couple on the arm, and a mouse under the eye, where you start thinking, ‘this is a different game.'” said Hearn about Usyk’s fight with Chazz Witherspoon last October.
Gaining muscle weight may not help Usyk all that much in adding punching power to his game, and his heavyweight experiment could end badly for him. Hearn believes Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) will be a good test for whether Usyk is cut out to be heavyweight. If Usyk struggles to beat the 35-year-old Chisora or if he loses, then we could soon see him dropping back down to cruiserweight.
Oleksandr will stay at heavyweight to get big fights
Usyk WON’T obviously move back down to cruiserweight if he beats Chisora, because he’s the WBO mandatory. If nothing else, Usyk will get a MONSTROUS payday in fighting the winner of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. fight, if they choose to keep the WBO.
The worst nightmare for Usyk, besides him losing to Chisora, would be if the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz 2 rematch VACATES the WBO belt. In that situation, Usyk wouldn’t be fighting one of those popular heavyweights. Usyk would probably end up facing Joseph Parker or Adam Kownacki for the vacant World Boxing Organization heavyweight title.
Those would NOT be big money fights for Usyk, and he would be putting himself in the becoming a paper champion with the WBO. Usyk moved up to heavyweight to get the big money fights against Joshua, Ruiz and Deontay Wilder. If Usyk can’t get any of those fights, then it’s been a huge waste of time for him. He might as well have stayed at cruiserweight defending his 4 titles against the obscure opposition in that division.
Hearn concerned with Usyk’s ability to handle heavyweight power
“If you get hit like that by [Deontay] Wilder, AJ [Anthony Joshua] or any of those guys, does he have the skill or speed to counter that?” said Hearn in discussing Usyk’s predicament in moving up to heavyweight. “I think it’s so fascinating watching Usyk move up to heavyweight.
“Even against Chisora, it’s such an interesting fight, because we know Usyk is going to pick off Chisora. But he’s [Chisora] a right handful, he’s a big lump, and he can punch. You’re going to get a lot of answers in that fight, in my opinion. I see Usyk as the favorite, of course, but I think he’s going to be asked a lot of serious questions, because Chisora is a bull,” said Hearn.
Looking at how many problems that Usyk had against Witherspoon, there are doubts whether he’s capable of beating the best at heavyweight. At this point, Chisora could beat Usyk, and expose him as being too small for the heavyweight division. Chisora sees weakness in Usyk, and he’ll be looking to add his scalp to his resume.
Usyk will have problems against bigger heavyweights
There are smaller heavyweights like Alexander Povetkin that have done reasonably well in this era, but he’s the one exception. Povetkin won his WBA title against Ruslan Chagaev in 2011. He didn’t beat a big heavyweight to capture the belt.
When Povetkin did face one of the super heavyweights in Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, he was easily beaten. Usyk is nowhere as powerful as Povetkin, which puts him at even more of a handicap against the bigger heavyweights in the division.
Usyk’s fans bring up the fact that he beat 6’6″ Joe Joyce in 2013 in the World Series of Boxing, and they point to that victory as case that he can beat bigger guys. Joyce isn’t an elite heavyweight. He’s incredibly slow of hand, and nothing like guys like Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Usyk was marked up badly by Joyce in the short 3-round fight, and looked like he wasn’t going to hold together much longer. Had that been a 12 round fight, Usyk likely would have been stopped. His face looked badly reddened after just 3 rounds against Joyce. You can imagine what would have happened if Usyk had to go 12 rounds. It wouldn’t have been good.
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