The Friday Faceup

The eyes have it. Oleksandr Usyk takes a glance at ‘Del Boy’ Chisora.

What a fantastic fight weekend we have lined up. There’s almost too much going on to give each contest justice.

In London, England there’s the big heavyweight showdown between Ukrainian former-unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KO’s) and big Londoner Dereck ‘Del Boy’ Chisora (32-9, 23 KO’s). Staged at the SSE Arena, Wembley behind closed doors, it’s promoted by Matchroom Boxing and available on Sky Box Office.

The contest is intriguing as it presents a real test of the 33 year old Usyk’s ability to compete in the heavier weight class having reliquished his cruiserweight (200lbs/14st 4lb)titles and only successfully debuted as a heavyweight late last year.

In yesterday’s final press conference Usyk made light comment on the size disparity claiming he’d been fighting heavyweights all his career. He added profoundly “If the king of animals would be considered according to the size, then it would be an elephant, not a lion”.

The 36 year old Brit is a big heavyweight having competed his entire career in the division, but not enormous by today’s standards. He has though mixed in excellent company over a rollercoaster career, sharing the ring with Vitali Klitchko, Tyson Fury, David Haye and Kubrat Pulev amongst others. He will not be wanting for experience.

The ever-game Chisora is likely to make the fight very competitive in the early stages and seek to land the big bombs early. Whether he can navigate the southpaw Usyk’s classical style and test his toughness in the heavier division is the real intrigue in this fight. Conversely, can the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist stand his ground and show enough power to make Chisora tentative and get his respect ? Or, will he need to ? Those are questions to be answered.

When the dust settles look for Usyk to prevail, probably on points, and take a giant step into heavyweight contention. He is already officially the WBO number one contender for Anthony Joshua’s title and a good victory should seal the deal for a title shot.

The event also features a very good undercard with the picks being former IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KO’s) against George Kambosos Jr (18-0, 10 KO’s) and the WBO world female middleweight title contest between England’s Savannah Marshall (18-0) and Scot Hannah Rankin (9-4).

Across the pond in the US there are two major promotions with some debate as to which takes top billing.

In Las Vegas, Nevada we see the much anticipated American debut of Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue, fittingly on Halloween. The three- weight and current bantamweight (118lbs/8st 6lb) world champion (as recognised by Ring magazine and the WBA & IBF) is one of the finest fighters in the sport right now.

The 27 year old Japanese having captured the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the World Boxing Super Series final last year is almost in a class of his own. The ferociousness and ring smarts he displayed in his standout victory against former champion Nonito Donaire (voted Ring magazine 2019 fight of the year) earned him a Top Rank contract and this being his first fight in it. Top Rank’s CEO Bob Arum has high hopes for Inoue breaking the US market.

Inoue (19-0, 16 KO’s) meets Australian Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KO’s) in defence of his titles and although the Aussie has an excellent record ‘The Monster’ is expected to come through in spectacular style.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Texas there’s a fantastic match between Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (23-0, 22 KO’s) and four division ‘world’ champion Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KO’s). The bout is at super-featherweight (130lbs/9st 4lbs).

The pairing between the Mayweather Promotions backed Davis and more experienced Mexican-American is mouthwatering. Both are proven elite fighters and this is sure to be humdinger.

They both come to fight and Santa Cruz in particular is rarely in a bad fight. He’s split two bouts with Carl Frampton and had many other wars on the way up. This may however prove to be his downfall and expect the heavy handed Davis to come through to set up a potential challenge to new lightweight king Teofimo Lopez.

Also on the card is the return of former WBC world super-lightweight (10st/140lb) champion Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KO’s) in his first outing since losing the World Boxing Super Series final to Scotland’s Josh Taylor last year. The ‘Rougarou’ Prograis will face Californian Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10 KO’s) in a ten rounder and expect him to re-stake his claim for world honours. This caps an outstanding weekend of boxing worldwide.

The San Antonio card will be shown live in the UK on Channel 5 from 03:00 GMT Sunday.

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