Undefeated former Undisputed Cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk scored a hard-fought twelve round unanimous decision over longtime Heavyweight contender and former world title challenger Dereck Chisora on Saturday night at the Wembley Arena in London, England. In what was Usyk’s second fight as a Heavyweight, Chisora was able to give the former Cruiserweight world champion a legitimate test by applying pressure on Usyk from the outset, making him miss and landing hard hooks and right hands early in the fight. Although Chisora was head hunting early on and neglected going to Usyk’s body consistently, he did succeed in being able to make him uncomfortable for a time.
Perhaps due to a fight plan with an emphasis on trying to impose his will on the shorter fighter early with the intention of ending the fight early, Chisora began to tire as the halfway point approached. It was at this stage that his pressure of Usyk began to decline and allowed Usyk to take over the tempo of combat using lateral movement and combination punching to get his punches off first and making Chisora follow him around the ring as opposed to Chisora attempting to cut the ring off that would have theoretically limited Usyk’s ability to move.
As the late rounds in the scheduled twelve round bout approached Chisora looking to be fighting the effects of fatigue. Despite this, the longtime contender continued to put forth one of the best efforts of his career and did manage to do some effective work to Usyk’s body in rounds ten through twelve. It was Usyk’s surge in the middle rounds, strategic lateral movement, and quicker hands that ultimately proved to be the difference as Usyk would earn a unanimous decision victory in what was a very competitive fight. Official scores were: 115-113 (On two scorecards), and 117-112 in favor of Usyk Oleksandr Usyk advances to 18-0, with 13 Knockouts. Dereck Chisora falls to 32-10, with 23 Knockouts.
Also on this card:
In an IBF Lightweight elimination bout undefeated top contender George Kambosos scored a major upset in scoring a twelve round split decision over former IBF Featherweight world champion Lee Selby. It was the former world champion that appeared to be consistently busier throughout the fight and seemed to carry the tempo of combat through many of the rounds. Kambosos however, was quite effective in spots throughout in landing flush counter hooks to the head and seemed to land the harder punches of the two fighters. This proved to be the deciding factor as two officials judges felt Kambosos’ counter shots and power punches were more effective than Selby’s greater activity and ring generalship. Official scores were: 115-114 (Selby), and 118-110, 116-112 in favor of Kambosos. George Kambosos advances to 19-0, with 10 Knockouts. Lee Selby falls to 28-3, with 9 Knockouts.
An encounter for the vacant Women’s WBO Middleweight world championship saw undefeated contender Savannah Marshall successfully make the transition from contender to world champion by scoring a dominant seventh round stoppage of former IBO Jr. Middleweight world champion Hannah Rankin. For seven rounds, Marshall dominated the action landing offense to the body and head of Rankin. Although Rankin never gave up and continued to sustain punishment from Marshall’s offensive arsenal, the one-sided bout reached the end in round seven when a hurt Rankin under a barrage of offense took a knee. Rankin was able to beat the count, but after sustaining significant punishment, Referee Phil Edwards made the decision that she had taken enough punishment and stopped the fight with one second remaining in the round. Official time of the stoppage was 1:59 of round seven. Savannah Marshall advances to 9-0, with 7 Knockouts. Hannah Rankin falls to 9-5, with 2 Knockouts.
In a battle for the vacant European Cruiserweight championship Tommy McCarthy scored a hard-fought twelve round majority decision over Bilal Laggoune. What was a grinding and grueling fight for both men, McCarthy was able to land the cleaner, more effective punches over the course of the fight and that proved to be the difference in earning the nod of two of three official judges giving him the victory and the European championship. Official scores were: 114-114 (Even), and 116-113, 116-112 in favor of McCarthy. Tommy McCarthy advances to 17-2, with 8 Knockouts. Bilal Laggoune falls to 25-2-2, with 14 Knockouts.
Women’s Lightweight Ramla Ali successfully made her professional debut by scoring a six round decision over a very “Game” previously unbeaten Eva Hubmayer. Ali demonstrated a complete skill set in this encounter by both Boxing at distance and also showing some punching power and hand speed as she controlled the fight over late substitute Hubmayer from the opening bell. As all non-title bouts in the United Kingdom are scored by the referee officiating a fight, Referee Robert Williams scored the fight 60-54 in Ali’s favor. Ramla Ali advances 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Eva Hubmayer falls to 1-1, with 1 Knockout.
In a battle for the vacant Women’s Commonwealth Jr. Featherweight championship that opened the evening, undefeated contenders Amy Timlin and Carly Skelly fought to a ten round split decision draw. The ebb and flow of this fight went back and fought throughout with Timlin seeming to get the upper hand in the first half and Skelly coming on in the middle and late rounds. Several of the rounds saw heated exchanges of offense between the two fighters and by the end of the ten round championship bout, there was simply no way to distinguish, which fighter got the better of the action. Official scores were: 96-95 (Timlin), 97-96 (Skelly), and 95-95 (Even) resulting in a split draw. Amy Timlin advances to 4-0-1, with 0 Knockouts. Carly Skelly advances to 3-0-1, with 0 Knockouts.
A scheduled Heavyweight bout between Dave Allen and undefeated prospect Christopher Lovejoy was cancelled earlier in the week due to a contractual issue. There is no word as of this writing as as to whether there will be an attempt to reschedule the bout for a later date.
Ever since Evander Holyfield, the first fighter to successfully unify Boxing’s Cruiserweight division thirty-two years ago in 1988, set his sights on the Heavyweight division later that year and ultimately becoming the only fighter in Boxing history to win versions of the World Heavyweight championship on four separate occasions, other former Cruiserweight champions including a few men that Holyfield fought before moving to Heavyweight, followed his lead to embark on Heavyweight glory of their own. All of the above including Holyfield had to deal with questions and even criticism regarding whether they had the punching power to be effective and hurt fighters who are natural Heavyweights.
Much like Holyfield and several other Cruiserweight world champions, many of those same questions are now being asked of Oleksandr Usyk. The current number one Heavyweight contender in the World Boxing Organization (WBO) ratings ultimately did what he had to do against a determined longtime Heavyweight contender, was able to get the win, and thus was able to maintain his position as the WBO’s mandatory challenger for current unified IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua.
As most know, Joshua is currently scheduled to defend his unified crown against the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) top contender Kubrat Pulev in December also in England. What some may not know as of this writing however, was it was revealed during the Usyk-Chisora card via various media outlets around the world including The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and NBC News here in the United States, that British Prime Minister Bois Johnson has ordered a new lockdown in the country due to the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic and confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus passed one million. While the order of a lockdown is for thirty days beginning on Thursday, November 5th and would not appear to have implications as of this moment on the scheduled December 12th bout between Joshua and Pulev, the status of the fight as well as other sports throughout the United Kingdom could well be uncertain as the epidemic worsens around the world including here in the United States.
What makes this pertain to Oleksandr Usyk is he is next in line in the succession of current mandatory challengers for Joshua’s unified world championship. If the Joshua-Pulev fight were to be postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing epidemic, it could mean that Usyk might not get his opportunity to fight for the Heavyweight world championship until late in 2021 or perhaps 2022. There is also the likelihood that if Joshua is successful against Kubrat Pulev that public demand for an all British showdown between Joshua and undefeated WBC world champion Tyson Fury would be such that Usyk’s challenge may be delayed further.
For now, Usyk has continued to make his case as being the next challenger for the winner of the scheduled Joshua-Pulev bout. The more important issue however, not just in the United Kingdom, but the world is the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic and it is clear that should be and needs to be addressed before any scheduled fights or issues on the business side of Boxing should take place and be addressed.
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