On Saturday night, we see the postponed dust-up between former undisputed cruiserweight king, Oleksandr Uysk, and the larger than life Derek ‘War’ Chisora. Originally the bout was scheduled for May 23rd. Like many others, that show fell victim to cancellation because of the pandemic.
The two foes are two of the most engaging personalities in heavyweight boxing. The dancing Uysk, who is always ‘very feel’, and the table-throwing, opponent-kissing, water-spitting, ever-unpredictable, Derek Chisora.
The build-up to this contest has largely consisted of the two men screaming each other’s names, asking where they are, and assuring the other that he is coming for them. A departure from the Chisora we have seen of recent years, but entertaining none the less.
The initial press conference back in March was remarkably well-mannered. There were no animal slaughter noises or brawls this time. Uncharacteristically, Chisora even posed for a selfie with his Ukrainian adversary.
The fight itself is an interesting proposition, with huge ramifications for the top of the division. Uysk was declared a ‘Super’ champion by the WBO when he reigned at cruiserweight. This afforded Uysk the right to automatically become the mandatory challenger for AJ’s WBO heavyweight crown.
If Uysk does triumph and maintain his status, that could be a stumbling block in making the undisputed fight between Fury and Joshua. Conceivably, AJ may have to vacate the WBO to make the Fury fight, unless some kind of step aside deal could be negotiated so all the belts can be on the line.
Not much thought should be given to that, however, because anything can happen in the heavyweight division. Something we have seen many times before. On this basis, we turn our attention to the fight on hand itself.
Oleksandr Uysk 17(13)-0-0 vs Derek Chisora 32(23)-9-0
12 X 3 Mins Heavyweight Contest
Uysk makes a welcome return to the ring following a year out. Last time, he fought and beat American Chazz Witherspoon, nephew of Tim, on what was his professional heavyweight debut. He retired Witherspoon in the seventh round.
Many suggested Uysk looked sluggish in that fight, and that he was not at his best. That was to be expected considering his previous bout, was again almost a year before when he stopped Tony Bellew at cruiserweight before an injury-induced absence. Given the lay-off, he looked as well as could be expected and still beat Witherspoon handily.
Uysk’s pedigree speaks for itself. An amateur European, World and Olympic Gold Medallist at the London 2012 games. He also competed in the World Series of Boxing, winning all six of his bouts, including a victory over 2016 Olympic Silver Medallist, Joe Joyce.
As a professional, he won his first world title, the WBO, in his tenth fight following a twelve round unanimous decision over Krzysztof Glowacki. Victories over Thabiso Mchunu and Michael Hunter followed.
The Ukrainian then entered the first instalment of the World Boxing Super Series and blew Marco Huck away in the quarterfinals. In the semis, he had the toughest fight of his career when became the only man to defeat Mairis Breidis as a professional. He bested Breidis with a hard-fought majority decision to unify the WBO and WBC titles, and book his place in the final.
In the final, he encountered the hard-hitting Russian, Murat Gassiev, in Gassiev’s home country. Uysk turned in a superb performance, not allowing Gassiev to get a foot in what was meant to be a 50/50 contest. This delivered Uysk the status of undisputed champion when he unified the WBA ‘Super’, IBF, WBO, WBC and Ring Magazines titles. He cemented his place in history that night by becoming the first holder of the Muhammad Ali trophy.
Uysk then proceeded to call out Tony Bellew, fresh on the back of Bellew’s destruction of David Haye after their second bout.
Uysk and Bellew faced off at the Manchester Arena at the end of 2018. Bellew started surprisingly well, boxing on the back foot. The Scouser was unable to maintain his high output defensive work, and the weight cut plainly showed as he grew tired. He was ultimately stopped in the eighth after a spirited display, that saw him leading on two of the three cards at the time of the stoppage.
Oleksandr Uysk, is one of the very best boxers in the world, pound for pound. As a smaller heavyweight, many have suggested that we will only see him struggle when he gets in with the big boys like Fury or Joshua. Team Uysk feel Chisora is the perfect measuring stick to see how Uysk will adapt to life at the maximum weight.
While not the tallest heavyweight at 6′ 1½″, what Chisora lacks in height he makes up for in raw, brute strength. A big, strong, lump of a man who will not take a backward step. Chisora will maintain pressure on Uysk and look to land his signature right hand, dispatching him in a way similar to how he destroyed Takam and Szpilka.
An advantage Chisora has over Uysk, is that he has been in with some of the very best and biggest punchers in the division; experience that can’t be bought. He’s fought Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury twice, Dillian Whyte twice, David Haye, Kubrat Pulev, David Price, Carlos Takam and Robert Helenius. In his thirteen years as a professional, he’s experienced most styles imaginable, although Uysk is something else.
In the past, Chisora has had issues stemming from fitness and a lack of discipline. Since linking up with former arch-enemy David Haye, such issues look to be a thing of the past.
Since joining Haymaker, Chisora’s fitness has come on leaps and bounds. He has demonstrated he is more than capable of standing toe to toe and trading with most and carries the power to knock out most fighters if they do.
The chances of Uysk trading with Chisora at close distance, however, are fanciful at best.
Uysk is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. Potentially one day, he may even find himself sitting at the top of that tree.
He’s fought every style possible and prevailed each time. The only two contests I feel I have seen him struggle in were the Breidis and Bellew fights. Breidis boxed well on the back foot and was elusive and hard to hit for Uysk. Bellew copied Breidis’ blueprint and utilised the same tactics for the first fiverounds. However, when the tiredness and weight cut crept in, Uysk found his range and it became easy work.
When you look at all the factors in play, it’s hard to make a case for Chisora winning.
Chisora can’t follow the Breidis and Bellew style by boxing on the back foot in an elusive manner. That is not his game. Delboy is good at what he does, pressuring his opponents, forcing them to have a phone-box brawl with him.
Sadly, that style plays right into the hands of Uysk. When the Ukrainian has fought pressure fighters before like Gassiev, or Joe Joyce in the WSB, he’s made light work of the affair, by countering and moving. Making his opponent chase him around the ring.
Although he is as ambidextrous as they come, Uysk is traditionally a southpaw, and Chisora has long troubled with fighters of the southpaw stance.
Furthermore, Chisora’s worst performances have always come against pure boxers. The Fury fights and Kabayel fight in Monaco spring to mind.
As he demonstrated on that night in Monaco, Chisora struggles to motivate himself without his usual army of fans, singing 'There's only one Derek Chisora'. So often we have seen the song of the crowd lift Chisora, and without them, it's difficult to imagine him gee himself up against someone as skilful as Uysk in a silent arena.
Uysk on the other hand is used to fighting with small crowds as he did so many times as an amateur. He has also won his biggest fights in hostile territories when he has fought in his opponent’s back yard. Something he did with Huck in Germany, Breidis in Latvia, Gassiev in Russia and Bellew in England.
To his credit, Chisora is arguably the biggest puncher Uysk has faced as a pro. This affords him a puncher’s chance, but one would tend to suggest that is his one and only, very slim, chance.
Whatever anyone says, this is a great opportunity for Delboy, but I find it almost impossible to imagine Chisora emerging victorious come fight night. While I would like nothing more than for Chisora to land one of his huge right hands, spark Uysk, and make himself the WBO mandatory, I just think Uysk is far too good to let that happen.
I predict Uysk will win a wide points decision. It will not be for a lack of trying from Chisora however, and he will make Uysk work for every minute of the fight.
Prediction: Uysk points.
Lee Selby 28(9)-2-0 vs George Kambosos Jnr 18(10)-0-0
12 X 3 Mins Final Eliminator for IBF Lightweight Title
Former IBF featherweight world champion Lee Selby will hope to earn a second tilt at world honours with a victory over Australian Kambosos. The IBF lightweight title is currently held by Teofimo Lopez following his shock victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko. Now undisputed at 135lbs, it has been suggested that Lopez will not hang around at the weight and will look to move to 140lbs. This would mean the victor will more than likely get a shot for the vacant title.
‘The Welsh Mayweather’ Selby is the more experienced of the two men. A former world champion, he holds notable wins over the likes of Stephen Smith, Ryan Walsh and Evgeny Gravovich to name a few down at 126lbs. Following his loss to Josh Warrington in 2018, Selby decided to move up two divisions.He long had issues with the featherweight limit and perhaps stayed there too long to avoid vacating his title. At 5 foot 8 ½, Selby’s frame more suits his new weight limit.
At lightweight, the Welshman holds wins over Omar Douglas and three-weight world champion Ricky Burns last time out, a year ago in what was a close fight. At 33, Selby will hope to capitalise on his time remaining in the sport, become a two-time world champion and set up some big fights against the likes of Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, Luke Campbell or Ryan Garcia.
George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos is one of the biggest prospects in boxing down under, along with the likes of Tim Tyszu. The Aussie trains out of Miami and is an excellent talker, full of confidence.
Kambosos earned his shot at becoming mandatory after defeating former IBF lightweight champ, Mickey Bey by split-decision in December last year. Aside from Bey, the Sydney native’s resume lacks a marquee victory. Most of his wins have come in his native Australia. Kambosos will hope to change that with what would be a huge win against Selby.
Selby has the experience, the silky skills and movement we have seen from him often. Kambosos is an aggressive come forward fighter, who will look to sit on Selby’s chest. Selby is an excellent counter puncher and will hope to catch Kambosos coming in before dancing away. If Selby is at his best, he should have no issue with that, but he will have to ensure he uses his all of skills to control the hungry, young Kambosos.
The issue is, how much does Selby have left in the tank? He's been in a lot of hard fights, and certainly has some miles on the clock. I imagine Kambosos will keep the pressure on Selby throughout, and Selby will not get a second’s rest, therefore needs to be physically up to the challenge.
It's a tricky one to call. Youth vs experience, the old lion vs the new young upstart. It's interesting and for me the most fascinating fight on the card.
It must be said, Kambosos style isn’t the best style for Selby. However, Lee Selby is head and shoulders above the calibre of opponent Kambosos has encountered so far.
I tend to side with Selby to come out on top of what will be a very close battle. Kambosos is up against a very talented man who has been in with a host of classy operators. Kambosos, he will need to be at his very best to beat the Welshman, cut the ring off well and not give Selby a second’s rest. Providing Selby has not depleted due to age and previous weight drains, I feel he has enough left in the tank to emerge victorious.
Prediction: Selby narrow points win.
Tommy McCarthy 16(8)-2-0 vs Bilal Laggoune 25(14)-1-2
12 X 3 Mins Vacant European Cruiserweight Title
Belfast man Tommy McCarthy is presented with a great opportunity to become European cruiserweight champion when he fights Belgian, Bilal Laggoune for the vacant EBU title.
McCarthy is coming in off the back of a career-best victory, after his win out in Italy a year ago. On that night, he beat the home fighter in the form of the then-unbeaten Fabio Turchi in what was a decent scrap.
With a victory over Laggoune, McCarthy will hope to set up a rematch with former opponent Richard Riakhpore, who stopped McCarthy in the fourth when the two met back in March 2019. Riakhpore has recently vacated his British title, so a fight with the winner would make sense. McCarthy would surely welcome the opportunity to avenge that loss.
Before McCarthy can turn his attention to revenge, he must first overcome Laggoune.
It’s difficult to work out how Laggoune has managed to get the mandatory shot at the EBU. His last fight was back in 2019 and was a win over 10-7-2 Elvis Smajlovic. His last fight before that was way back in 2018 against 19-10-2 Tamas Lodi.
You would think there would be more deserving candidates to get the opportunity, however, Laggoune has it, and will certainly hope to capitalise. Laggoune’s best win comes against Corby’s Simon Barclay. He also holds a draw against Dmytro Kucher who stopped Enzo Macranelli when they fought in 2016.
A win over McCarthy would do wonders for the Belgian’s career, and he can then look to force is way into more meaningful fights with a win Saturday night.
There is not that much footage of Laggoune available online, and from what is on YouTube, it’s hard to gauge how good he is. Given the Belgian’s last competitive fight was in March 2018, I am siding with the Peter Taylor trained McCarthy to take the blue belt home to Belfast.
Prediction: McCarthy points.
Savannah Marshall 8(6)-0-0 vs Hannah Rankin 9(2)-4-0
10 X 2 Mins vacant World Boxing Organisation World Middleweight Title
Saturday sees the rescheduled all-British women’s middleweight world title clash between Savannah Marshall and Hannah Rankin.
The bout was originally due to take place on the Ritson v Vasquez undercard. Sadly, a positive Covid test for Peter Fury meant that fight was cancelled. Fortunately for both Marshall, Rankin, they get their opportunity to fight for world glory and equally fortunately for us, the public, we get to see what could become quite the barnstormer.
‘The Silent Assassin’ Marshall turned professional in 2017 and was originally signed with Floyd Mayweather’s Money Promotions. The contest with Rankin will be Marshall’s third fight under Matchroom, and it could be the first of many world title contests for the northerner.
While Marshall hasn’t fought the best opposition as a pro, she is arguably the best female amateur Britain has produced. She is a two-time Olympian, a former World Amateur Champion and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist to name but a few of her exploits. She also has the accolade of being the only woman to beat Claressa Shield at amateur or pro, after beating her in China back in 2012.
There is a lot of interest in a rematch. Marshall and Shields have clashed several times on social media, and that would be an exciting and logical contest to make next, providing Marshall prevails.
However, Hannah Rankin will very much hope to throw a spanner in the works by pulling off a shock and derailing the Marshall hype train.
The Glaswegian Rankin has twice challenged for world honours before when she fought Alicia Napoleon Espinosaand Claressa Shields. She came up short both times, however, she did manage to win the lowly regarded IBO 154lbs title when she beat Sarah French in June of last year.
With a victory over Marshall, Rankin can make her mark on the middleweight division and target Shields, one of the most prominent flag-bearers for women’s boxing.
I believe Marshall should have enough in her arsenal to take home the victory. She hasn’t put a glove wrong as a pro andwill have benefitted from training with the great Peter Fury. She hits hard, and I think she will prove herself a level abovethe game and determined Hannah Rankin.
Prediction: Marshall points.
David Allen 18(15)-5-2 vs Christopher Lovejoy 19(19)-0-0
10 X 3 Mins Heavyweight Contest
This fight is in serious jeopardy after the last-minute emergence of contract issues between Lovejoy and famous promoter Don King. It is yet to be seen if these issues can be overcome, however it is hoped these issues can be overcome and the fight will take place.
Originally, Dave Allen was scheduled to fight Christian Hammer, in what would have been a gigantic test for the Doncaster man.
Sadly, Hammer had to withdraw due to Covid, and the ‘White Rhino’ was left without an opponent for what would be his first fight under Jamie Moore.
Following Hammer's withdrawal, there was talk of a third fight with Lenroy Thomas, who is in the UK sparring with Chisora. Thomas rejected three offers according to Eddie Hearn, paving the way for the American Lovejoy to step up.
While the American Lovejoy has a perfect record with 19 stoppages from 19 contests, he is yet to fight one opponent with a winning record.
Say what you will about Dave Allen, but he’s stepped up on several occasions to fight some of the most talented andexperienced people around in the likes of Ortiz, Whyte and Yoka.
He’s also been in with the likes of Browne and Price, who at one time or another were top competitors in the division.
Allen has also sparred many rounds with Joshua, Fury and much more recently, Uysk. He will have benefited from such experience, and hopefully, that will be reflected in his performance.
From his social media, Allen is in great condition both physically and mentally. He has been training hard for a long time for a fight on this card. Although Lovejoy may have been working equally hard for all we know, the American has stepped in at late notice and will be less prepared. I would imagine the durable Dave Allen, will utilise this to his advantage and wear down his adversary.
While Lovejoy clearly carries a punch, if Allen can avoid taking too many until Lovejoy is tired, you would expect him to win if the fight does happen. With a victory, Allen will begin building his way back toward some meaningful fights.
Prediction: Allen late stoppage.
Amy Timlin 4(0)-0-0 vs Carly Skelly 3(0)-0-0
10 x 2 vacant Commonwealth (British Empire) Super Bantamweight Title
A really interesting match-up in the women’s super-bantamweight division, when 20-year old Southam fighter Amy Timlin squares up against the Liverpudlian 33-year old Carly Skelly.
There are high hopes for the Dave Coldwell managed Timlin. She trains with Kieran Farrell and has years of experience competing in contact sports. She started as a kickboxer and won an array of tournaments at British, European and World level.
She then crossed over to the realm of hands only and joined Frankie Gavin’s Ringside as an amateur. During her eight-fight amateur career, Timlin competed in the 2017 AIBA Youth Women’s World Championship in India.
She decided to crossover to the paid ranks at the tender age of 19. She will look to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Terri Harper and Katie Taylor and win world honours in the future.
First, she must get past Skelly, who has her own ambitions to compete at the highest level.
Skelly came into boxing late at the age of 29, after taking part in a white-collar bout. Like many, she caught the bug and continued to train. She became an amateur, boxing out of the Everton Red Triangle gym.
Skelly did well as an amateur and reached the finals of both the ABAs and the GB Championships. Outside of boxing, Skelly is a paediatric nurse and proud member of the NHS. She has been hard at work during the pandemic keeping people safe and is a resolute fighter who has a big opportunity to make a name for herself on a big stage on Saturday night.
Although both women are someway apart in age, they have similar levels of experience at both amateur and pro boxing levels.
I believe that Timlin's kickboxing experience could prove to be the difference. She will be used to the all-action style of fighting, and from her socials, that is exactly the style she fights within boxing.
She is very fit; has a high output and I believe she will push Skelly throughout, heaping bags of pressure on her opponent. Over ten rounds, I feel Skelly won't have a moment's rest and will have her work cut out to take the win.
Prediction: Timlin late stoppage.
Kash Farooq 13(6)-1-0 vs Martin Tecuapetla 15(10)-12-4
A late addition to the card, Glasgow's Kash Farooq makes his maiden appearance for Matchroom when he fights Mexican Martin Tecuapetla.
At 24, Farooq is a young, hungry fighter who has already won the British bantamweight title outright. Big things are expected from him as he looks to progress towards world level.
‘Untouchable’ Farooq last appeared in November, when he was on the wrong end of a contentious split-decision to Scottish domestic rival, Lee McGregor. Many felt Farooq was hard done to, by the decision. Most felt it should have been Farooq who left the Emirates Arena with his unbeaten record intact on that night. I echo these sentiments.
Farooq is targeting a rematch with McGregor, who himself is fighting for the European title next month. If both win their respective bouts, a rematch in Scotland when crowds return would surely be a substantial occasion that would take a decent card north.
However, before Farooq can begin talking about replaying an all-Scotland war with McGregor, he must get past Tecuapetla, who is considerably better than his record suggests.
The Madrid-based Mexican has been in with some big-name fighters like former world champion Cristofer Rosales and current world champion Julio Cesar Martinez.
Tecuapetla also once challenged for the world IBF light-flyweight title in Japan against Akira Yaegashi. He dropped a close split-decision to Yaegashi in the latter’s home country of Japan.
Tecuapetla really can fight. I expect him to push the talented Farooq all the way, however, the skilful Farooq should have enough skill in his arsenal to take the victory back to Glasgow.
Prediction: Farooq points.
By Aaron Ludford