CHICAGO — Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk made his heavyweight debut a successful one with a seventh-round TKO of Chazz Witherspoon on Saturday at Wintrust Arena, live on DAZN.
Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) conducted a surgical dissection as he methodically broke down his short-notice opponent. Witherspoon — who replaced Tyrone Spong earlier in the week when Spong tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene — had little to offer and ended up being a glorified sparring partner for Usyk to shake off ring rust after being out of action the past 11 months.
Usyk got off to a slow start as he prodded with his jab, but the pro-Usyk crowd showed its support whenever "The Cat" landed a punch. Usyk began to ramp up the activity in the fifth round and landed combinations to Witherspoon's head and body. Witherspoon (38-4) attempted to counter but found that Usyk was too slick to catch, and fatigue began to set in.
Witherspoon (38-4, 29 KOs) was ripe for the picking by the start of the seventh round, and Usyk took advantage by bouncing punches off the head and body of his worn-down opponent. The referee kept a close eye on Witherspoon, who was unable to land anything significant and simply absorbed punishment.
As the seventh frame came to a close, it was evident that Witherspoon had no chance and was unable to answer the bell for the next round.
Usyk formally announced his arrival in the land of the giants with the victory. It will be interesting to see how he fares against an opponent who is more than a warm body.
Oleksandr Usyk vs. Chazz Witherspoon live results, updates
Oleksandr Usyk routs Chazz Witherspoon in successful heavyweight debut
12:27 a.m.: Usyk def. Witherspoon by TKO at 3:00 of the seventh round.
After seeing the punishment Witherspoon absorbed in the latter half of the seventh round, his corner told the referee that he could no longer continue.
Round 7: The end is coming near for Witherspoon. Usyk was teeing off in the last 90 seconds. He uncorked everything including the kitchen sink. If it wasn't for the ropes, Witherspoon would have gone down. (Usyk 10-9, 69-64 Usyk)
Round 6: Usyk's best round of the fight so far. He got Witherspoon against the ropes and wobbled him with a left hand immediately followed by a right hook. Usyk finally went to the body and showed good work when he had Witherspoon's back to the ropes. Witherspoon needs to get off the ropes if he has any chance. (Usyk 10-9, 59-55 Usyk)
Round 5: A lot of headhunting by Usyk but it's proving to be effective. He's systematically breaking Witherspoon as evidenced by the huge breath Witherspoon took when he walked back to his corner after the round ended. (Usyk 10-9, 49-46 Usyk)
Round 4: Usyk showing off the power in both hands. He's breaking Witherspoon down minute-by-minute. He's cutting off the ring masterfully and making Witherspoon swing and miss. (Usyk 10-9, 39-37 Usyk)
Round 3: Good round for Usyk. He started off the round by snapping Witherspoon back with a hard left hand. Usyk is setting everything up with the blistering jab which leaves Witherspoon open for combinations. Something to watch out for as the fight goes on but Usyk may have hurt his right hand as he shook it out near the end of the round. (Usyk 10-9, 29-28 Usyk)
Round 2: Can see Usyk slowly but surely seizing control. He used good footwork and used a highly effective stinging jab. Witherspoon needs to go on the inside and start taking some risks. (Usyk 10-9, 19-19)
Round 1: Well, if you had the fight not lasting past the first round, you lost the bet. Usyk stayed at a distance and processing information. He hardly threw and Witherspoon landed a couple of shots to introduce Usyk to the division. (Witherspoon 10-9)
11:46 p.m.: A thunderous ovation for the former undisputed cruiserweight champion as he walks to the ring.
11:45 p.m.: It is now time for the main event as Oleksandr Usyk takes on Chazz Witherspoon in heavyweight action.
Witherspoon (38-3, 29 KOs) is a late-replacement after Tyrone Spong was notified on Monday that he failed a drug test. Since getting stopped by Seth Mitchell in April 2012, Witherspoon's reeled off eight consecutive wins.
Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) makes his professional debut at heavyweight. After tearing through the World Boxing Super Series that led him to become the undisputed cruiserweight champion, Usyk had his final bout in the weight class, brutally knocking out Tony Bellew in the eighth round back in November.
Can Witherspoon do the unthinkable? Usyk needs to make a statement to let the division know he's a force to be reckoned with.
Dmitry Bivol successfully defends his WBA light heavyweight title in a snoozer with Lenin Castillo
11:30 p.m.: Bivol def. Castillo by unanimous decision (120-107, 119-108, 119-108) to retain the WBA light heavyweight championship.
If you were looking for an exciting fight then this wasn't it. Beyond the brief flurry of action in the sixth round when Bivol knocked down Castillo, what people saw was a glorified sparring session with a punching bag. It would be a constant sequence of Bivol throwing the jab to the stomach and then another jab upstairs.
Some will say that Bivol played it safe because the bout came on short notice. The crowd showered him with boos to let him know Castillo isn't a top-tier opponent and those are the guys you have to put away. You can't let a guy like Lenin Castillo go the distance and be considered among the best at 175 pounds with the likes of WBO champion Sergey Kovalev, IBF titlist Artur Beterbiev and WBC titleholder Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
11:07 p.m.: The crowd was silent for the entire eighth round and when Oleksandr Usyk was shown on the screen, the crowd roared. It's been that kind of fight.
10:58 p.m.: Down goes Castillo early in the sixth round after a stinging right hand to the jaw that sent the Puerto Rican stumbling to the canvas. Let's see if that gets Bivol going.
10:57 p.m.: Bivol is well in control through five rounds but he isn't impressing. More often than not, he's content with using the jab and not throwing much of anything else. Bivol had a chance to do some damage in the fifth with Castillo against the ropes but he just feinted and let Castillo off the hook.
10:34 p.m.: It is now time for the co-main event of Usyk vs. Witherspoon as Dmitry Bivol puts the WBA light heavyweight title on the line against Lenin Castillo. Bivol's (16-0, 11 KOs) defended the belt five times since getting the interim tag removed in October 2017. Most recently, the 28-year-old beat Joe Smith Jr. in March by unanimous decision. Castillo (20-2-1, 15 KOss) earned the opportunity by winning five of his last six.
Bivol needs a finish in the worst way to show the boxing world he belongs in the upper echelon of the division and not just someone who holds a championship.
Otha Jones III remains undefeated in decision win against Eric Manriquez
10:22 p.m.: Jones III def. Manriquez via majority decision (38-38, 40-36, 39-37).
The same judge who scored McCaskill-Farias must have been on the cards for this one as well. Jones III (4-0, 1 KO) controlled the bout from the outset. The 19-year-old showed good pop in both hands to win an easy decision. Remember, he's 19, so give him time and let his body develop as he does have a ton of skill to one day be a contender.
10:01 p.m.: Up next at Usyk vs. Witherspoon, Otha Jones III takes on Eric Manriquez in super featherweight action.
Jessica McCaskill remains unified super lightweight champion in gritty win over Erica Farias
9:50 p.m.: McCaskill def. Farias by majority decision (94-94, 97-91, 96-92) to retain the WBA and WBC super lightweight titles.
Whoever scored that draw must have been looking at his cell phone and not paying attention for ten rounds. A pretty dominant performance by McCaskill. She kept pounding the body with the left hook and constantly in Farias' space and not giving her a chance to get anything off of note. Farias made it a dirty fight by continuously grabbing McCaskill and landing questionable shots in the process.
Now, McCaskill can move on to bigger things as she called out Amanda Serrano. A fight with her or a rematch with Katie Taylor should be next for McCaskill as she's come into her own since the loss to Taylor in December 2017.
9:33 p.m.: Fouls galore in this one as in the sixth round McCaskill was deducted one point for repeated shots to the back of Fairas' head. A questionable call as the referee never warned McCaskill and Farias is still holding with nothing said to her.
9:27 p.m.: The referee must have seen what we wrote in between rounds as he deducted a point from Farias for holding.
9:26 p.m.: Good work from McCaskill after three rounds. She's staying active, giving Farias no room to breathe and really finding a home with the left hook. At what point does the referee start warning Farias for grabbing? Anytime McCaskill's throwing, Farias grabs like she wants to give her a hug.
9:16 p.m.: While McCaskill entered the ring, Farias was right there saying something to her. You don't see that too often. The mind games are beginning before the bell even rings.
9:15 p.m.: The main card of Usyk vs. Witherspoon begins with unified women's super lightweight champion Jessica McCaskill putting her WBA and WBC titles on the line in a rematch against Erica Farias. They met in Oct. 2018 at the same venue with the native of the "Windy City" emerging victorious by unanimous decision to capture the WBC belt. Back in May, McCaskill (7-2, 3 KOs) added the WBA belt, beating Anahi Ester Sanchez via unanimous decision.
This will be the first time Farias' (26-3, 10 KOs) stepped inside the ring since their first encounter. The first fight was exciting and it should be no different in the encore.
9:00 p.m.: Welcome to Sporting News' live coverage of Oleksandr Usyk vs. Chazz Witherspoon. SN is inside the Wintrust Arena and will have all of the action from ringside. Stay locked in for what should be an exciting night of action.
Usyk vs. Witherspoon undercard results
Arthur Biyarslanov def. Tyrone Jones by unanimous decision (59-55, 59-55, 58-56); super lightweights.
Anthony Sims Jr. def. Morgan Fitch via TKO at 2:19 of the fifth round; super middleweights.
Charles Conwell def. Patrick Day by knockout at 1:46 of the tenth round; super welterweights.
TJ Doheny def. Jesus Martinez via TKO at 3:00 of the fifth round; super bantamweights.
Summer Lynn def. Jenna Thompson by unanimous decision (40-36, 39-37, 39-37); women's welterweights.
Usyk vs. Witherspoon fight card
Oleksandr Usyk vs. Chazz Witherspoon
Dmitriy Bivol vs. Lenin Castillo
Bivol's WBA title
Jessica McCaskill vs. Erica Farias
McCaskill's WBC and WBA titles
Arthur Biyarslanov vs. Tyrone Jones
Anthony Sims Jr. vs. Morgan Fitch
Charles Conwell vs. Patrick Day
TJ Doheny vs. Jesus Martinez
Summer Lynn vs. Jenna Thompson
Reshat Mati vs. Norfleet Stitts
Otha Jones III vs. Eric Manriquez
Oleksandr Usyk vs. Chazz Witherspoon latest news
— The theory among some boxing pundits is that Oleksandr Usyk isn't big enough to compete at heavyweight. Count WBC titlist Deontay Wilder in on the assessment.
— Not many have been to make a successful leap from cruiserweight to heavyweight. Here's a look at how former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield set the path for Usyk.
— Don't know how to watch Usyk vs. Witherspoon? Everything you need to know is right here.