Will Oleksandr Usyk get the 'Orlando Salido' treatment when he faces Dereck Chisora on March 28?
There's no denying Oleksandr Usyk is one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet.
After completely dominating his world-class competition in the talent enriched Cruiserweight division upon turning pro in 2013, the gifted 33-year-old ring wizard has officially put the entire heavyweight division on notice and has put himself in position to challenge one of the most popular attractions in sports and the current WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua.
While recognizing Usyk's position as his WBO mandatory challenger, the British born ticket seller is seemingly committed to defending his IBF title against number one contender and fight veteran Kubrat Pulev first.
To avoid vacating his coveted WBO strap, promoter Eddie Hearn has mapped out a solution for all parties involved, including all interested heavyweight fight fans.
"Obviously, we would love for AJ to be able to keep his titles and defend them against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev in late May or early June, but we have his WBO mandatory in Oleksandr Usyk to consider, who also deserves a title opportunity," stated the managing director of Matchroom Sport to iFL TV.
"So what we're trying to work out is a fight between Dereck Chisora and Usyk for March 28th at the O2 Arena, which would be an interim fight for the WBO heavyweight championship, while AJ prepares for his date with Pulev."
The intriguing heavyweight championship match-up would be broadcast exclusively on Sky Sports PPV in the UK, and on DAZN USA in America. The "Usyk vs Chisora" bout would be viewed as an interim title fight with the opportunity to face Anthony Joshua by the end of 2020 for all the marbles.
But will Usyk be the fighter eventually taking on AJ later this year? Can the former lineal Cruiserweight champ get past what would easily be considered his toughest heavyweight test to date?
Although the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner will be the clear favorite heading into the contest, it's not a style the Ukrainian born fighter has frequently seen, both as an amateur and a professional.
Chisora is the epitome of effective aggression inside the ring.
Del Boy's style features him constantly barrelling forward with his head pointed toward his opponent's chest, throwing hard combinations to the body and head underneath.
For a fighter who depends on his footwork and jab to control range like Usyk, Chisora's style could pose many problems.
Many critics and ringside experts have compared the brilliant style match-up to a pairing that pound for pound favorite Vasyl Lomachenko faced back in March of 2014.
In only his second contest as a professional, Vasyl took on former Featherweight titleholder Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO 126 pound championship at the world-renowned Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Despite being labeled as the clear underdog going into the bout, Salido had the greater professional experience and came into the ring weighing a staggering 21 pounds over the featherweight division limit on fight night.
Orlando's rugged and aggressive style, coupled with his big "Welterweight" frame, proved to be too much for the talented, two-time Olympic gold medal winner.
Lomachenko seemed genuinely unsure of how to combat the hard-charging Mexican fighter, who relentlessly brought pressure to the Ukrainian technician from the opening bell to the final seconds of the action-filled twelve round contest.
Although Vasyl seemed to adapt during the championship rounds of the fight, the late surge wasn't enough to curb the opinions of all three judges at ringside. The end result was a controversial split decision victory in favor of the betting underdog and the much more aggressive minded fighter, Orlando Salido.
The style match-up and scenario is a virtual carbon copy of the proposed March 28th pairing between Dereck Chisora and Oleksandr Usyk.
Will the talented former Cruiserweight experience the same level of difficulty against the British fan favorite in his first step up in heavyweight competition?
Heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte seems to think that he very well could.
"Usyk thinks he'll be able to out-maneuver him, but Dereck is very hard to fight," the two-time opponent of Dereck Chisora recently told Sky Sports. "I don't think Usyk carries the power to keep Dereck off."
"Dereck is going to maul him, and he doesn't mind losing a couple of points to do it. He doesn't mind hitting you low or to the back of the head."
During Lomachenko's second professional outing against Orlando Salido, the referee in charge, Lawrence Cole, was heavily scrutinized by media members at ringside for allowing the aggressive Mexican fighter to consistently hit the visiting Ukrainian pugilist below the beltline and in the kidney area of the back without penalizing him.
Will this be a potential problem for Usyk as well on March 28th?
"Dereck doesn't mind doing all of that," insists Whyte. "I don't think Usyk has fought anyone who's brought that to him."
Will Oleksandr Usyk get "Salido'd" on March 28th when he faces Dereck Chisora for the interim WBO Heavyweight Championship?
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