Usyk vs Chisora: Eddie Hearn questions ‘how tough’ is Oleksandr Usyk ‘under heavyweight firepower’

Oleksandr Usyk is a “genius” but his toughness when trading punches with a larger opponent remains a question mark, insists promoter Eddie Hearn.

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Usyk will be in just his second fight in the heavyweight division against Derek Chisora on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with his ambition to challenge Anthony Joshua next year at stake.

But his resistance to the punch-power of a veteran heavyweight remains a mark against Usyk’s name, Hearn told Sky Sports: “What do we know about Usyk? Genius. Amazing footwork. Punch selection, timing, mental capacity.

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“What we don’t know? How tough he is under heavyweight firepower.

“When he boxed Chazz Witherspoon [in his heavyweight debut last year] there were a few signs that he didn’t like what was coming back.

“Witherspoon is nowhere near as good or fast as Chisora.

“There are a lot of questions for Usyk to answer at heavyweight but he is a genius who will go down as one of the greatest fighters of our generation.”

The undefeated Ukrainian won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 then, as a professional, became the inaugural winner of the World Boxing Super Series and owner of every major cruiserweight title.

Usyk is now the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s WBO heavyweight title, a status which will hang in the balance this weekend.

But his prestigious accomplishments will count for little when he is pressurised by the strongest and heaviest opponent of his career, Hearn insists.

He said: “This is the perfect test for Usyk. He is one of the greatest fighters of all time.

“He did everything at cruiserweight – he became undisputed champion and pound-for-pound king.

“Now he moves to heavyweight – we know that in the amateurs he boxed Joe Joyce so he has operated at that level.

“But with small gloves and 12 rounds? This is different.”

Veteran contender Chisora has fought for a world title just once, eight years ago against Vitali Klitschko, but Hearn believes he will be catapulted into the mix if he ends Usyk’s unbeaten run.

“This will be one of the greatest wins from a British fighter of all time if Chisora pulls it off,” Hearn said.

“Last week he saw Vasiliy Lomachenko, a close friend and almost a brother [of Usyk], get beaten. These are deep thinkers so the momentum of the past few weeks is with Chisora.

“It’s so transparent what Chisora must do – find a way into Usyk’s chest and do not stop punching, make it horrible, make it dirty, whip them into his body and arms, to his head, anywhere. Easier said than done because Usyk’s footwork is so good.

“Chisora will get pinged from angles he didn’t know existed, but he must keep at it.”

The night that nearly ruined Chisora

Chisora has dramatically revived his career since a defeat by Agit Kabayel, which was preceded by a chaotic few days in Monte Carlo.

CJ Hussein, who was a last minute addition to Chisora’s training team, told Sky Sports: “A lot of good came out of that fight, in the end.

“Maybe that’s why Derek is where he’s at today. There was a silver lining.”

Read the full story here of Derek Chisora’s disastrous night in Monte Carlo. It should have been the end but, somehow, it represents a new beginning.

Watch Usyk vs Chisora on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, from 6pm. Book it via your Sky remote or book it online here. Even if you aren’t a Sky TV subscriber you can book and watch it here.

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