BETWEEN ROUNDS: THE BEST MATCHUPS POSTPONED BY COVID-19 – DEREK CHISORA V OLEKSANDR USYK

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For this installment in our ‘Between Rounds’ series, looking forward at the postponed fights of 2020, we take a look at one of the most anticipated of the year. That fight being Chisora vs Usyk.

Derek Chisora, the man known as War. A more fitting moniker couldn’t have been chosen for this man. Chisora himself is very open about what he brings to the ring, his game plan is no secret and his opponents know what to expect; but like a man staring down a grizzly bear, knowing what’s coming doesn’t make things any more palatable. Chisora brings violence and constant pressure to his fights.

Chisora might not be technical. He’s not too fast on his feet. When he throws his punches, he doesn’t always bring his guard back up. He barely moves his head off the centre-line as he’s coming forward when he’s backing up, he goes straight backwards. The man is certainly not an enigma. What you see with Chisora is what you get, a stocky man, with a good chin, endless courage and bruising punch power.

For an example of the type of combos Chisora likes to throw, just watch his recent fights against David Price, Artur Spilka, and Dillian Whyte. You’ll see so many times Chisora steps in and throws single jabs to find his range, walks predictably forward to close distance, throws lone jabs to bring his opponents guard up or down. He might throw an uppercut, but he doesn’t follow it up with anything. Then he throws a right hook, left hook, right hook. It might be 3, 4, or 5 hooks depending on how many he lands. If he switches levels it might be right and left to the body, right to the head. Or body, head, body. His style is not rocket science, any boxer facing Chisora can watch his most recent two fights for research and call it a night.

The thing is, Chisora still makes it work. He walks at you, eats your punches, and walks you. He throws crushing punches, every, single, time. He fights in the Heavyweight division, so he knows most guys aren’t going to step back every time to avoid a body hook. He also knows that at 6’2” he’s not a tall Heavyweight, especially not in the current landscape, so his taller opponents will have a harder time bobbing under hooks he throws to the head. Instead, they’re more likely to lean away, just try to take the hit on their guard or roll with them. All of these options are fine as they leave their body more or less in the same range and position for Derek to throw hooks at.

Usyk, however, is a very different animal. For a current Heavyweight Usyk is incredibly small. He stands 6’2”, like Chisora, but he weighed in at just 215lbs for his first appearance against Chazz Witherspoon. This is small for this era of boxing, he’s smaller than Muhammad Ali when he fought Joe Frazier, in 1971. For this reason, many people see Usyk as being out of his depth, and out of contention in today’s division.

Technically Usyk is a monster, with sublime body positioning, head movement, footwork, boxing IQ, and guard. He rolls, bobs and weaves, slips out of range and parries like his opponents are scripted and he knows the director. Usyk can counter, switch angles mid-combo, vary his punch power, and read his opponent without breaking a sweat.

His technical skill is up for no debate, each Heavyweight boxer and their promoter admits as much. The sticking point for them all is can he maintain this level of movement, intensity, and power as he puts on weight? Will his engine remain as endless as he packs on the pounds? Can he take 100% of a punch from a 260lb + human being and keep dancing around?

This is the question Usyk is looking to answer. If you’ve watched his interviews, he clearly has no doubt he can hang in boxing’s glamour division. He gave an ok performance against Chaz Witherspoon, but a true test that was not. Usyk could have ridden his cruiserweight record, taken another easy Heavyweight before utilizing his right as WBO mandatory to face Anthony Joshua. Usyk didn’t do that though, he did something very few boxers with the option to pick and choose would do, he chose an opponent to silence his doubters. “Can Usyk survive an ugly fight?”, they said. “Can Usyk wobble a solid heavyweight chin?”, they said. “Can Usyk stand up to a brute-force-bully?”, they said. Usyk looked into the Heavyweight bag, picked a true bruiser, and said: “Let’s see what happens”.

It’s a move I truly respect, it was a move that didn’t have to be made at all. It’s a move the other I doubt Wilder, Joshua or Fury would make so easily if they didn’t have to. It might backfire, but Usyk doesn’t seem to care, he seems to be just as curious to see what he’s made of as we are.

I believe Usyk is going to weigh-in heavier for against Chisora than he did against Chaz Witherspoon. Usyk knows his strengths and won’t forfeit them for empty kilos on the scale. I think Usyk’s weight of 215lbs was a calculated weight, it was his solid mass, it was gym tested and he knew he could move well with it. I think he’ll continue to conservatively pack on a bit of muscle here and there, feeling out his new body and breaking it in like he would a new pair of sparring gloves.

On the night, whenever that may be, Chisora will come with his tried and tested brand of hit-until-someone-quits force. Usyk will bring his tried and tested sublime technicality and adaptability, but in a new heavier body, Usyk 2.0. We’re very much looking forward to this fight here at NoSmokeBoxing, it might be our most anticipated Heavyweight fight of the year.

There are a number of quotes from the two men involved that we think perfectly sum up the feel of this fight. Speaking in the pre-fight conference on March 13th, Chisora said of Usyk, “The guy knows how to box. There’s no two ways about it. I can’t get sparring partners who know how to box like him. So, I decided to go unorthodox with this fight, I just decided to chuck whatever I can chuck”. It’s not unorthodox for Derek Chisora, War, to openly admit he’s going war.

Usyk had this to say, “He’s really a big guy and he hits hard” and “I tell you once again, I love boxing very much. I love to box”. Usyk focusing on out-boxing Chisora, also not unexpected or unorthodox.

Finally, in the post-fight conference of his October fight with David Price, Derek Chisora had this to say, “I just came to seek and destroy. I figured if he catches me, he catches me, but if I catch him, he’s gone”. Take that quote, rinse it off, and repeat it for every fight of Chisora’s career.

This Heavyweight clash is looking to be a very exciting one, with a simple formula of force vs finesse. This recipe has given us some of the greatest Heavyweight fights of all time and hopefully, these men do themselves proud on the night.

Let us know whose corner you’ll be in, on the night, in the comments below.