One of the most enigmatic characters in boxing is back on Saturday night. Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk takes on his second heavyweight opponent in the main event from London against a powerful puncher in Derek Chisora. The pair headline a Matchroom Boxing card set to begin at 2 p.m. ET and streaming live on DAZN in the U.S.
Usyk (17-0, 13 KO) dominated the cruiserweight ranks, winning the World Boxing Super Series against legitimate competition and establishing himself as the best fighter in the division. After a 2018 knockout win over Tony Bellew, Usyk had few interesting decisions aside from jumping up in weight in an attempt to become the third man to ever win legitimate world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight.
His debut in the heavyweight division came against Chazz Witherspoon, the once-prospect turned also-ran who stepped in at the last minute after kickboxing Tyrone Spong was forced out after failed drug tests. Witherspoon offered up little resistance, but Usyk did little to impress the way he had at cruiserweight. The ugly, slow affair ended with a seventh-round stoppage, but answered very few questions about Usyk's potential in the division.
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Those answers figure to start to come Saturday against Chisora, a bruising power puncher who has built a decent career as a fringe world title contender but never quite hit the highest highs in the division.
Chisora (32-9, 23 KO) got off to a strong start, winning his first 14 fights and capturing both the British and Commonwealth titles before running into Tyson Fury in 2011 and taking a decision loss. The two would rematch in 2014 with a few more trinkets on the line, but Chisora was stopped after 10 rounds. In between those Fury fights, Chisora picked up some wins, was robbed against Robert Helenius, lost a world title shot against Vitali Klitschko and was knocked out by David Haye, a rival turned current Chisora manager.
In truth, Chisora has lost in basically every bout with fighters who could compete at the world title level. He also beat fighters who aren't at that level, making him a fine gatekeeper, but one with a big personality, the ability to sell a fight like a star and end a fight with one punch.
The co-main event may be just as fun as the heavyweight showdown as George Kambosos Jr. takes on Lee Selby in an IBF lightweight title eliminator. Kambosos Jr. will enter as the favorite with an undefeated record, but he has yet to take on any truly top-level competition. That will change against Selby, who has just one loss to his name. The former IBF champion dropped his title by decision to Josh Warrington in 2018. The winner of this one will become the next mandatory challenger for the 130-pound title.
Usyk vs. Chisora card, odds
Oleksandr Usyk -650
Derek Chisora +475
George Kambosos Jr. -135
Lee Selby +115
IBF lightweight eliminator
Vacant European cruiserweight title
Vacant Commonwealth junior featherweight title
Heavyweight is unpredictable by its very nature, and Chisora is a live dog on the strength of the proverbial "puncher's chance," if nothing else. Usyk is capable of getting caught by a big shot, and Chisora is capable to knocking him out with that same type of shot. That said, Usyk's boxing skills are likely too good for Chisora, and he certainly fits into the higher-tier level of opponent Chisora has simply never been able to beat. We do, however, get to learn a lot about Usyk in this fight, win or lose. Has he filled out more as a heavyweight? Can he eat a heavyweight punch and keep coming forward? Is he ready for a shot at a world title? We'll gain a lot of insight as Usyk takes a comfortable decision here. Pick: Oleksandr Usyk via UD