Oleksandr Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora in play for March 28 at O2
By Tim Royner: Eddie Hearn is still waiting for the IBF and WBO decide which of the two mandatory challengers – Oleksandr Usyk or Kubrat Pulev – will be the next opponent for IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. AJ (23-1, 21 KOs) plans on defending his titles in April or May, and he’s waiting for the IBF and WBO decide which mandatory goes first.
Hearn has made it no secret that he prefers the IBF mandatory Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) to be Joshua’s next opponent, because that would allow Usyk to face Dereck Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) in the UK. Usyk-Chisora would make money in the UK, and it would give Usyk another fight at heavyweight to get him ready for an eventual title shot against Joshua.
Hearn has O2 on hold for Usyk vs. Chisora for March 28
The plan is for Usyk to fight the 36-year-old Chisora on March 28 at the O2 Arena in London, England, according to Hearn.
Former unified cruiserweight champion Usyk, 32, has only had one fight at heavyweight since moving up in weight, and that was against 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon. That’s hardly what you can call a fight, but Hearn wasn’t willing to take any chances with Usyk by matching him against someone halfway decent for his heavyweight debut.
Hearn needs the IBF and WBO make a decision which of the two mandatory challengers will come first, because he can’t schedule Usyk just yet to fight Chisora until the governing bodies decide. If they agree that WBO mandatory Usyk is next for Joshua, then he would need to scrap his fight with Chisora.
If Joshua vacates his WBO title, #2 WBO Joseph Parker and #1 Usyk would face each other for the vacant title. That’s another reason why it would be a mistake for Hearn to schedule Usyk to face Chisora right now.
“In terms of Usyk v Chisora that is still a potential outcome, but March 7 is unlikely, instead we have March 28 on hold at the O2,” Hearn said to skysports.com.
Usyk could lose to Chisora
It’s a gamble on Hearn’s part if he lets Usyk fight Chisora, because he could potentially lose. Usyk didn’t look overwhelmingly impressive in his last two fights against Witherspoon and Tony Bellew, and he’s clearly NOT another Evander Holyfield. Although Usyk has compared to Holyfield, he doesn’t bring the same power, combination punching and the rugged style that the American possessed.
When the 26-year-old Holyfield moved up from cruiserweight to heavyweight in July 1988, he already had the punching power and the talent to compete against the best in that weight class. In contrast, Usyk lacks punching power, isn’t remotely rugged, and still fights like he’s in the amateur ranks.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk hasn’t been able to adapt his game to the professional level, and likely never will. That’s why it’s risky for Hearn to match Usyk against Chisora – or any decent quality heavyweight – until AFTER he faces Joshua in a big money fight.
If this was about sport, Usyk would be slowly brought along at heavyweight before he challenges for a world title. That’s not what this is. It’s about money. Usyk can make a lot by fighting Joshua before he’s exposed as being too small and weak for the heavyweight division.
Chisora has the power to beat Usyk
The way that Usyk looked against Witherspoon and Bellew, it wouldn’t be a shock for him to get stopped by Chisora. Obviously, it would be a major blow for Hearn and Matchroom Boxing for Usyk to lose before he faces Joshua, which is why they need to think hard about whether it’s worth it for him to face Chisora.
There’s obviously an upside for Usyk in facing Chisora. His popularity would grow in the UK, and the fight would make good money. But the downside is, Usyk could lose, and that erase the big money fight between him and Joshua.