As if the heavyweight division hadn’t been anticipating Oleksandr Usyk’s huge fight with Dereck Chisora enough, the scenes at Friday’s weigh-in got all boxing fans giddy for the return to the ring.
The sight of ‘Del Boy’ squaring up to the Ukrainian with his arms outstretched, his face and chest painted white, and black markings around his eyes and mouth reminded us all of just what we’ve been missing in the long 2020 months without heavyweight boxing. With ‘War’ scrawled on his chest, he might well have been foreshadowing the kind of bout we will see in the Wembley Arena ring on Saturday night.
But the showmanship might only take Chisora so far as Usyk looks to continue making a name for himself in the heavyweight division after becoming the all-conquering champion at cruiserweight.
With so much having gone on away from the ring since Covid-19 put paid to the initially scheduled fight on 23 May, here’s a reminder of what the two have been up to in the intervening months...
Due to the timing of the coronavirus-induced halt to sport, both fighters have been through not one, but two fight camps.
Chisora has been working closely with former rival turned manager David Haye, and, by all accounts, the Hayemaker not only gives him structure to his life but keeps him on the straight and narrow along with trainer Steve Broughton, who has only been with the experienced fighter for a year.
For ‘The Cat’ it is a case of more of the same preparation under long-term trainer Anatoly Lomachenko (yes that is Vasyl’s dad) as he looks to retain his ‘0’ and move on to bigger names in the division, including a potential bid for the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles against Anthony Joshua. Unlike Chisora, he has shared a lot of his training camp tricks on social media, showing off his physique at regular intervals whether doing sit-up drills or sparring.
One thing both boxers must be commended for is the dedication they have shown to their training in this tough time. They were each forced to leave their nearest and dearest in order to isolate in training camps. Arguably, there has never been a tougher time to be a boxer.
If trash talk is your bag then Usyk will have been keeping you busy on social media. The former Olympic gold medalist has been snapped on Instagram bellowing Chisora’s name while running on the beach, while being hit in the abs with a slam ball and even while canoeing!
Meanwhile Chisora seems to have taken a step back from the trash talk ever since he told Dillian Whyte he was going to go through him like a laxative. Having said that, he has given the delayed fight the extended build-up it deserves, the Brit tweeting back in July, “I’m willing to eat leather and go to hell and back in my next fight. If I catch Usyk he’s gone.”
The 36-year-old has also claimed Usyk is in for "the fright of his life" on Saturday night. Cheers Dereck, we were avoiding the Halloween puns.
Tale of the Tape
Usyk is the heavy favourite heading into this one and given his record, 17 fights, 17 wins, 13 by knockout, it is easy to see why. The unbeaten champion conquered the cruiserweight division at breakneck speed but this is just his second fight as a heavyweight, having beaten Chazz Witherspoon last December.
At 33 he is three years younger than his opponent, but has a one-inch height advantage and four-inch reach advantage. There is a huge weight difference also, with Usyk coming in at 15st 7¼lbs at Friday’s weigh-in compared to Chisora’s 18st 3½lbs, but isn’t that just the beauty of the heavyweight division? Perhaps the Brit is right, if he can land a big punch with all that weight behind it, Usyk could be knocked out for the first time in his career.
It’s going to be one hell of a show.