In his last diary before this Saturday’s clash between Oleksandr Usyk and Dereck Chisora, Team Usyk’s Russ Anber says that the Londoner will prove the first test of the Ukrainian’s heavyweight credentials.
I know that Usyk fought Chazz Witherspoon last year but for me the first true test of his heavyweight ambitions comes this weekend when he faces Dereck Chisora.
In my opinion, this fight will show that Usyk has the power, athleticism and energy to be successful in the heavyweight division.
Chisora offers a very dangerous challenge to Usyk. At 32-9, 23 KOs, he may not have the most stellar record in the division but everyone Chisora fights ends up in a war. Win, lose or draw, it’s a war.
I was in a Malik Scott’s corner when he fought Chisora and Chisora always comes to fight. He’s a bruiser, he can punch, he believes in himself and he has power. We saw that in his knockouts of Artur Szpilka and Carlos Takam to name but two.
He’s got those nine losses but he’s fought at a consistently high level, like one of the old school. Indeed he’s fought a who’s who of heavyweights over the years including Vitali Klitschko, David Haye, Tyson Fury, Kubrat Pulev and Dillian Whyte.
In short, Chisora will be coming to fight and in the Usyk camp we are treating him with all the respect in the world. This is a real test for Usyk.
Having said all of that, I’m a big believer in Usyk. Very few cruiserweights have won world titles at heavyweight – Evander Holyfield has, of course, and so did David Haye, while Michael Spinks bypassed the division and went straight from light-heavy to winning the championship of the world against Larry Holmes.
Usyk, I believe, can be the next man to do what a cruiserweight like Holyfield achieved. I truly believe he has the talent and the size to be a major player at heavyweight. He’s as tall as Muhammad Ali was and he’s probably going to be about 215lbs or 220lbs come Saturday night. That’s heavier than Deontay Wilder has been for most of his career, and he’s still been knocking people out left, right and centre at that weight.
I know that we are in an era of super-sized heavyweights now but being 265lbs doesn’t automatically make you win a fight. Yes we’re seeing more and more heavier heavyweights now – people like Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua – who are big and also skilled. But Usyk can compete with them. He’s a solid muscle of a man who is very, very skilful.
Yes, Usyk has to be careful against Chisora and he doesn’t want to get into a wrestling match against a guy like Chisora but I think Usyk’s skills and desire to win will see him to victory and set him on the path to winning the heavyweight title.
Russ Anber was talking to Luke G. Williams.
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.