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Usyk vs Chisora: Is Oleksandr Usyk too small and light to be a heavyweight?

An analysis of the numbers behind Oleksandr Usyk’s rise into the heavyweight division; he is nearly three stone lighter than Derek Chisora but shook his head ominously when asked if this was a worry. Usyk fights Chisora on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office

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Oleksandr Usyk: The weight difference is not a worry

If Oleksandr Usyk’s plan to become a world heavyweight champion eventually comes true, he will have to complete it in a unique way.

At less than 16st in weight, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion is by far the lightest of the major heavyweight contenders.

Usyk weighed in at 15st 7lbs but shook his head with bewilderment when asked if he was concerned that Saturday's night opponent Derek Chisora, who he fights live on Sky Sports Box Office, was significantly heavier at 18st 3lbs.

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Watch Usyk and Chisora face to face at the weigh-in

Only two cruiserweight champions have ever stepped up to win a heavyweight world title - one of them, David Haye, is Chisora's manager and is adamant that Usyk lacks the punch-power to follow in his footsteps.

Evander Holyfield and Haye were both knockout specialists when they captured belts in both divisions but Ukraine's undefeated Usyk is not known for the same style.

Haye, the authority on the subject, believes Usyk cannot rely on nimble footwork for an entire 12 rounds against a much larger opponent.

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"That's exactly the shape I aimed for," Usyk said after weighing in. "It could have been a bit more, but it's still good."

Most recent weigh-in results

Joshua 237lbs 16st 13lbs
Fury 273lbs 17st 9lbs
Wilder 231lbs 16st 7lbs
Whyte 258lbs 18st 6lbs
Povetkin 224lbs 16st
Pulev 248lbs 17st 10lbs
Ruiz Jr 283lbs 20st 3lbs

The three top-tier heavyweights around the 16st mark are Deontay Wilder, Alexander Povetkin and Usyk.

But like Haye and Holyfield before them, Wilder and Povetkin possess the type of one-punch KO power that demands respect.

Usyk is taller with a longer reach (6'3'' and 78'') than Povetkin (6'2'' and 75'') but can he detonate the type of punch that knocked out Dillian Whyte? The Chisora camp is banking on their idea that he cannot.

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A terrifying Derek Chisora gives his pre-fight prediction

"What we don't know? How tough he is under heavyweight firepower," promoter Eddie Hearn asked about Usyk.

"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."

Usyk shrugged and insisted earlier this week that he has had plenty of experience inside the ring with heavyweights.

As an amateur he beat Joe Joyce, who is now an undefeated contender, over five rounds.

He also beat Junior Fa and Mahammadrasul Majidov as amateurs, both of whom are also now unbeaten heavyweight dangers.

"But with small gloves and 12 rounds? This is different," Hearn insists.

Perhaps the truest test of Usyk's coping mechanism under intense fire-power was his cruiserweight title fight against Murat Gassiev in the World Boxing Super Series final.

Usyk withstood one huge punch but otherwise controlled the KO puncher Gassiev, who makes his own debut in the heavyweight division this weekend.

Chisora's previous weights

Price in 2019 260lbs 18st 8lbs
Takam in 2018 249lbs 17st 11lbs
Kabayel in 2017 254lbs 18st 2lbs
Whyte in 2016 250lbs 17st 12lbs
Haye in 2012 247lbs 17st 9lbs
Klitschko in 2012 241lbs 17st 3lbs
Fury in 2011 261lbs 18st 9lbs

Chisora's weight, and his performances, have fluctuated over the years but a simple look at his physique (if you can see beyond the paint) compared to previous weigh-ins is proof that his 18st 3lbs frame is more muscular than ever.

He has, of course, been knocked out by a former cruiserweight in the past - that man was Haye, now his manager, and responsible for whipping him into the best condition of his career. Haye was 15st, 7lbs less than Usyk, when he knocked out Chisora.

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David Haye says Derek Chisora is in a career best shape

The elephant or the lion

Usyk was irked earlier this week when a comical exchange about the animal kingdom was used to describe his size.

Usyk said: "If the king of animals would be considered according to the size, then it would be elephant, not the lion."

Chisora interrupted: "An elephant is the king of the jungle for this reason: a lion is only brave when there is loads of them.

"An elephant on his own can attack a herd of lions and get away with it!"

Usyk: "An elephant is a friend of the mouse!"

Chisora had the final say: "People believe the lion is the king of the jungle but it's not. Lions are only powerful in a pack. By himself, if he sees a bull elephant? He runs away."

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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