Boxing fans were left with plenty of unanswered questions about former cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk's move to heavyweight after his divisional debut in October 2019. On Saturday, Usyk provided some of the necessary answers in edging out a decision over veteran slugger Derek Chisora.
Chisora came out of the gate swinging heavy power shots and forcing his way inside on the taller man. Usyk, a notoriously slow starter, was forced on the defensive as Chisora mauled him inside, clinching and tying up Usyk's arms while ripping punches. Chisora would land several flush punches to the face of Usyk, but Usyk remained sturdy on his feet, proving he could take power from heavy-handed heavyweights.
As the early rounds ticked by and the power of Chisora hadn't caught up to the chin of Usyk, Chisora started to show signs of fatigue. As Chisora's offense shifted down, Usyk's shifted up and he began to use his stronger technique to take over the fight. In Round 7, Usyk landed a crisp combination that clearly stung Chisora, sending him back into the ropes.
Usyk ran out of time in that round to close the show and never really came close to a stoppage after, even as he continued to land clean shots to the head of the former world title challenger. As Chisora tried to rebound, he landed fewer and fewer clean punches, saving up his energy largely for single bombs. Usyk moved around the ring, picking off the majority of the return fire and piling up the points.
After 12 rounds of action, all three judges saw the fight for Usyk, though by closer scores than many would have predicted coming into the fight.
The judges saw the fight 117-112, 115-113 and 115-113, awarding Usyk the victory and keeping him in his spot as mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua's WBO heavyweight championship.
"It's a real test at heavyweight," Usyk said after his win. "Chisora is a big guy, a hard guy. It's beautiful, boxing. I fought his fight, yeah. I was expecting the fight he gave. I was expecting an even tougher fight."
Usyk, who graded his own performance a "three," said the goal has not changed after having to go to war with a man many felt he would handle easily, and that goal does not stop with beating Joshua for three of the four recognized heavyweight world titles.
"Not just world champion," Usyk said. "Undisputed world champion."