SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 30, 2020 – Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine (17-0, 13 KOs) cracked open the door to the heavyweight division last October with a stoppage win over American Chazz Witherspoon. He can throw the door open to plenty of possible matchups with a definitive Halloween night victory over Derek Chisora of London (32-9, 23 KOs).
This main event heads up a full card of action airing on DAZN USA from The SSE Arena in Wembley without fans present, starting at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. ET on Halloween Saturday, October 31.
Usyk, the former unified cruiserweight champion, now finds himself one of the smaller men in his new division, weighing in Friday at 217 pounds while facing a 255.5-pound opponent in Chisora. Size isn’t everything in boxing but it presents its challenges in the heavyweight division where fans crave one-punch KO power a la George Foreman or Mike Tyson.
Usyk was expected to come in slightly heavier than the 215 pounds he weighed against Witherspoon, approximately where Deontay Wilder comes in. But Usyk is much shorter at 6-foot-3 and doesn’t possess the bazooka right hand. What Usyk needs to carry with him are the skills that got him this far: footwork, defense, balance, ring generalship, accuracy, and the insight in the ring to see several moves ahead.
Chisora was on the brink of retiring at age 33 in 2017 when he decided to renounce his bad boy ways, get clean, and embrace a Christian faith-driven lifestyle. Chisora has now been sober for three years, but the cheeky version comes out to play leading up to a fight. He may have nine losses but the British public still embraces him wholeheartedly. Boxing should learn something from this.
Halloween hijinks from two opponents who love a good time
Matched up with Usyk, who uses his rubbery, expressive face to indulge his fun-loving personality, both fighters have enjoyed the Halloween fight week events.
“People tell me that I hold the key to the rich and famous! You shall not pass!” said Chisora at the final news conference this week. “He will try to box. I can’t box. It will be a shoot-out. When I hit him, he’ll be hit, there is nowhere to hide.
“I don’t want to be dancing or wrestling. I want both of us to work fairly. I have to keep marching forwards. He will try to wrong-foot me but I’m ready. People will be surprised,” promised Chisora.
Usyk, responding to the ever-present hat on Chisora’s head reading “WAR,” said, “There will be no war. I bring peace – pure, clean boxing. He will definitely want to hurt me badly but I won’t stand in front of him.
“I don’t know why everyone is talking about a test at heavyweight because, all of my life, I have been tested by heavyweights,” added Usyk. “In the World Series of Boxing I was a heavyweight – people wanted to hurt me but didn’t manage to. If the king of animals would be considered according to the size, then it would be elephant, not the lion. An elephant is a friend of the mouse!” Uh – right.
Chisora has just one road to victory: power. Chisora can crack, but he will have to find Usyk to do it. Usyk can win by focusing on boxing skills like his Ukrainian predecessors the Klitschko brothers. But Usyk is willing to take risks, and he may move in on Chisora in later rounds if he senses the older fighter flagging. Either way, he is by far the favorite.
Usyk is the current WBO mandatory challenger to British unified champion Anthony Joshua. Usyk and his manager Alexander Krassyuk says they will insist on the fight being made if Usyk defeats Chisora as expected, and Joshua defeats his IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev next month. But they are the only ones who expect this to happen. Joshua and Tyson Fury are headed for a mega matchup, and the boxing powers that be will find a way to compensate Usyk while he hangs fire, and tries to find a decent stay-busy opponent while the top names sort things out.
Selby vs Kambosos Jr tangle in co-main event
In the co-main event, veteran lightweight and former featherweight champion Lee Selby of Wales (28-2, 9 KOs) plays the gatekeeper for Australian challenger George Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) in an IBF title eliminator. Kambosos Jr. relocated to Florida and is trained by Javier Centeno.
“I’m not fearful of any fighter. I don’t believe any boxer is. We’re fighting men. We don’t fear our opponents,” said Selby, who said it has been much easier at age 33 to make the lightweight limit. “I expect him to come out with pressure and high work-rate which will make for a great spectacle.”
Kambosos Jr. has made no secret of his desire to send Selby into retirement to make room for his generation – although he is only six years younger at age 27. “I’m super excited. I’m a caged lion right now. I can’t wait for this fight. This is my time. I’m in my prime, and I’m ready to make a huge statement,” declared Kambosos Jr. “It doesn’t matter who is in front of me. I’m ready to make a huge statement. I can’t wait to get in on.”
Kambosos Jr.’s career is on the rise, and the fight should follow the script of youth being served.
UK Middleweight matchup between Marshall and Rankin
The vacant women’s WBO World Middleweight title is on the line for Savannah Marshall of Hartlepool, England (8-0, 6 KOs) and Hannah Rankin of Glasgow, Scotland (9-4, 2 KOs). The fight was delayed due to a positive COVID-19 test by Marshall’s trainer Peter Fury, but all is in order now.
“I wanted this fight to happen and it is,” said Marshall. “I’ve rattled Hannah’s cage. I expect a tough fight from her. A really tough fight … Whatever she brings, I have an answer for. Hannah can’t out-box me so she has to take me out of my stride. But I’m bigger and stronger. If the stoppage comes, the stoppage comes.”
“Just to be on a huge card like this is massive. It’s a really exciting card to be on. I think our fight is worthy of being on this card. I can’t wait for it,” said Rankin.
“I’m just pumped up for this fight and really ready to go …I’ve had much more experience and Savannah hasn’t had these tests yet. I’ll pull her into deep waters. We’ll go into the last rounds – she will sink or swim.
The winner is likely to face American unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields for all the belts, although Rankin has already suffered a loss to Shields in 2018.
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