The Ukrainian pugilist-specialist Oleksandr Usyk looked not as superb at heavyweight as he did at cruiserweight, in taking a TKO victory over late sub Chazz Witherspoon Saturday night at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
The scrap screened on DAZN, and viewers saw Usyk, who won the World Boxing Super Series as a cruiser, rise to 17-0, as Witherspoon succumbed to fatigue and elected not to stand up for round eight. It was a decent performance, especially given that Usyk had been off for so long, so no one should be hammering the Ukrainian and declare this foray a dud.
Usyk thanked the fans for coming, wished his manager Egis Klimas a happy birthday and said he was happy. To Chris Mannix, he said that he'd been waiting for this moment. He said he prayed to the Almighty for strength and that was delivered, despite some negative thinking. And it looked like he could have pressed on the gas more often, did he look to get rounds? The plan was to box, and I followed the trainers' plan, he stated. And this fight, does it make him think he's ready for the A grade guys, Fury, Wilder, Ruiz? “I'm ready to fight them,” he said. Yep, he'd fight on a big gun if it was offered.
Witherspoon (242 pounds; from PA) got word four days ago, after Tyrone Spong flunked out with a PED positive, that he'd get to welcome Usyk to the topmost division. He's 38, and drops to 38-4. He'd lost stepup fights to Chris Arreola and Seth Mitchell prior to this opportunity.
Usyk (215 pounds Friday; age 32; coming off a right bicep ruptured last year in a win over Tony Bellew) looked fairly good in his third fight in America. He'd been off almost a year, so, we wondered, would he be rusty looking?
In the first, Usyk was light on his feet and looking to get warmed up.
In the second, we saw feints, a paw-jab, sweeping hooks, and Spoon wanting to land a right counter. Work to the body for Usyk stood out late.
In the third, Usyk edged closer and got more aggressive. He circled, then, potshotted, mixed up his looks. To round four; we saw Usyk elongate his left hand, to get that arm lose, maybe. Then, he flurried, used the left, so that assauged us. Another Usyk round.
To 5–Usyk was now real comfy. He peppered, scored points, and Spoon was looking to not get hit, defend, wasn't really in O mode.
In the sixth, we saw Spoon seek to snake a right hand around the guard. Rat-a-tatting from Usyk was more pronounced. Spoon looked a bit beaten down and up. In the seventh, Usyk was ore center ring to start, he's always switching up the looks. He would flurry then Spoon would try and sneak a counter right in. Then he went to sit down, and he indicated he'd not like to try again. Game over.
BIVOL GETS THE W IN TYPICAL FASHION
The WBA light heavy titlist Dmitriy Bivol rose to 17-0, and kept his crown in his now typical fashion, as he bested underdog challenger Lenin Castillo, at Winntrust Arena, in Chicago, and on DAZN.
It was not a stirring session, it was a composed application of skills, and the judges saw it that way: 120-107, 119-108, 119-108, after 12.
This was DB's sixth title defense, for the record. He outlanded the loser 198 to 88. He thanked all for watching, and some folks in the joint booed. “Maybe someone can say you are a boring fighter,” but, he said to Chris Mannix, basically, his foe didn't try to beat him. Does he get frustrated he isn't stopping people? Nah, he still has a chance to grab another belt. He wants the winner of the Kovalev-Canelo or Beterbiev-Gvozdyk bout, he declared.
He sent Lenin down in the sixth, as he was calm and cool and dialed in. A right hand did the damage, replay showed. A right counter was timed perfectly, it wasn't a bomb but the timing did it.
Bivol, from Krgzystan, is one of the more composed hitters holding a crown. He never looks ruffled…But a tad more passion would help him grab fans. It's not his way, though, personality wise.
Castillo too, was not balls to the wall. He picked it up some later, in round nine he ramped it up. He wanted to land a sneaky counter, that was to be his path to win. But against a reserved and never reckless champ, that would be a hard task. In round 11, Bivol fired harder, would he seek to close the show? Nah, he stayed reserved. His corner Tod him not to take a risk in the last round. He didn't, though he stayed lightly aggressive. So…Same deal for round 12, nothing out of the ordinary. We'd head to the cards…
HERE IS THE RELEASE DAZN SENT OUT:
CHICAGO, October 12, 2019 – In front of a packed crowd of 9,073 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 12 KOs) turned in a commanding performance in his first professional fight in the heavyweight division. Usyk notched a technical knockout victory at the end of the seventh round over the battle-tested Chazz Witherspoon (38-4, 29 KOs). In the co-main event of the evening, Russia’s Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) made the sixth successful defense of his WBA World Light Heavyweight Title with a dominating unanimous decision victory over Lenin Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs).
Earlier in the evening, Otha Jones III (4-0, 1 KO) bested Eric Manriquez (7-9-1, 3 KOs) via majority decision in a tight four-round affair. Chicago’s Jessica McCaskill (8-2, 3 KOs) successfully defended her WBC and WBA World Female Super Lightweight titles in front of her hometown crowd with a majority decision victory over Erica Farias (26-4, 10 KOs). Arthur Biyarslanov (5-0, 4 KOs) bested Tyrome James (4-6-1, 1 KO) via unanimous decision in a back-and-forth affair which tested the mettle of the young prospect out of Toronto. Anthony Sims, Jr. (20-0, 18 KOs) extended his perfect record with a sixth-round knockout victory over Morgan Fitch (19-4-1, 8 KOs). In the first fight of the night on DAZN, Charles Conwell (11-0, 8 KOs) stopped Patrick Day (17-4-1, 6 KOs) in the 10th round.
Below are post-fight quotes and official results from this evening’s action on DAZN.
On his performance: “Listen, thank all of you people. I was waiting for this moment, we had some little difficulties because we have to change opponents. I didn’t show to nobody but I had some bad thoughts float into my head. I just prayed a little bit, I asked Him to help me and it looks like he helped me.”
On difference at heavyweight: “Yes, there is a little bit of difference but I used to fight as a heavyweight. But yes, it was different.”
On whether he could’ve finished the fight sooner: “I did what my trainer told me to do. I just follow their orders and that was to box. And I did box but if I had the opportunity, I would take that opportunity.”
On whether he is ready for Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz or Deontay Wilder: “I am ready, I am ready to fight whoever. If they give me the mandatory then of course I am ready to take it.”
On fighting in Chicago in front of a pro-Usyk crowd: “I love all of these people and I am fighting for them.”
On his performance: “First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who supports me and watched the fight. Maybe there are people who say, ‘You are a boring fighter,’ or something like this. But I try to win and I won. Who wants to fight me? Who wants to try to beat me?”
On his 6th round knockdown: “I saw his fights before. He is really good at counter attacking. All five rounds before that, I tried to land that punch.”
On the decision victory: “If I lost today it would be bad but I won and I kept my belt. It gets me closer to my dream which is to fight for another belt. I want fight the winner of Gvozdyk-Beterbiev or Canelo-Kovalev. I can fight them now because I won today. Why can’t I get the winner of Gvozdyk-Beterbiev? We are in the same division.”
On her performance: “Felt like a WWE wrestling match but I just wanted to come out here and brawl. I wanted to put on a good show for the fans and I don’t feel like they got a lot of that. I apologize but I am glad we got the win. Shout to my mom, shout out to Chicago!”
On the excessive holding: “The first fight was a lot of brawling, banging, boxing and movement. I thought that was what I was going to get tonight but I just realized that she was tired, she gassed a lot and complained a lot. She held me when my arms were in. She was tired and couldn’t really put on a performance tonight. I wish I could’ve given the crowd a lot more.”
On the scoring: “I was never concerned it was going to go the other way. I was not fully surprised at the draw. Like you said, it is difficult to score a fight like that but we got the majority win.”
On what’s next: “We are always looking for what’s next. McCaskill vs. Taylor 2. All the other belts. We are looking for names like Amanda Serrano. Big shout to Amanda for that win, I was out there in New York to support her. We’ve already been talking to her team about that fight. I am sure you would all like to see McCaskill vs. Serrano. We just want to keep the momentum in women’s boxing going and deliver high level fights.”
Anthony Sims, Jr.
On his performance: “It was about 70%. I’ve been out for six months, I haven’t had a fight. I have a new team. But now I want to fight the big names. Rocky Fielding, if you are watching this – I want you next. Rocky Fielding in the U.K., mate.”
On potentially fighting Callum Smith: “Absolutely, but stepping stones. He is a champion for a reason and I want to make sure I build my way to that.”
On stopping the fight: For those that don’t know, it is one thing to watch a fight as a fan but it’s a different thing being in here. This fighter needs to get back to his family, to his kids, to his job. So if he doesn’t need to take any more punishment than necessary, get it over with. But a hurt man is a dangerous man so I have to do what I have to do.”
12-Round Heavyweight Fight
Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 12 KOs) defeated Chazz Witherspoon (38-4, 29 KOs) via TKO at the end of round 7.
12-Round WBA World Light Heavyweight Title Fight at 175 lbs.
Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) defeated Lenin Castillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs) via unanimous decision (120-107, 119-108 x2).
4-Round Junior Lightweight Fight at 130 lbs.
Otha Jones III (4-0, 1 KO) defeated Eric Manriquez (7-9-1, 3 KOs) via majority decision (38-38, 40-36, 39-37).
10-Round WBC & WBA World Female Super Lightweight Title Fight at 140 lbs.
Jessica McCaskill (8-2, 3 KOs) defeated Erica Farias (26-4, 10 KOs) via majority decision (94-94, 97-91, 96-92).
6-Round Super Lightweight Fight at 140 lbs.
Arthur Biyarslanov (5-0, 4 KOs) defeated Tyrome Jones (4-6-1, 1 KO) via unanimous decision (59-55 x2, 58-56).
10-Round Super Middleweight Fight at 168 lbs.
Anthony Sims, Jr. (20-0, 18 KOs) defeated Morgan Fitch (19-4-1, 8 KOs) via KO at 2:18 of Round 6.
10-Round Super Welterweight Fight at 154 lbs.
Charles Conwell (11-0, 8 KOs) defeated Patrick Day (17-4-1, 6 KOs) via KO at 1:46 of Round 10.