Oleksandr Usyk will face his first serious test at heavyweight when he takes on Dereck Chisora on Saturday night.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion is the heavy favourite to hand Chisora his tenth professional defeat, though the Brit’s career renaissance is prompting some to get behind him.
But what do the fighters think? Scroll down to find out…
“It’s difficult to assess how Usyk will be at heavyweight because he hasn’t been there long. But such a top quality cruiserweight, it’s hard to write him off against any fighter in any division.
“We need to know what Usyk is going to be like under pressure from a proper heavyweight, someone with size and strength.
“Chisora has losses against [Dillian] Whyte, [Tyson] Fury, [Kubrat] Pulev, [David] Haye and [Vitali] Klitschko and you’ve got to say – I don’t want to give him any stick or disrespect or anything – but Chisora doesn’t belong with the big boys at heavyweight, does he?
“He’s proven he can’t compete with those top, top lads because he gets beaten every time he steps up in that sense.
“Usyk needs to not only beat Chisora, but he needs to do it in style and make a statement.”
“Usyk’s got all the class, we know that. He’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“He’s done it at cruiserweight, he’s now stepped up to heavyweight and he had a mediocre win, if you like, over Chazz Witherspoon.
“Usyk is the WBO’s mandatory challenger, so he’s right up there and in the mix and Dereck realises he’s in the twilight of his career and that he could go and steal that pot of gold and get into that position.
“He’s well up for it. I’ve been speaking to Dereck regularly and every time I speak to him he says, ‘You know what Spence, I know this is going to be hard.’
“I say ‘Dereck, you recognise that, we know that. But what you’ve got to do is go out there, sit on him early and let him feel your power.’
“If he lands one of those big shots, Dereck’s going to get his immediate respect. But, if he let’s him get into any kind of rhythm, he’ll break you down and beat you.
“So I think Dereck’s best chance is to go out there, sit on his chest, throw everything at him and I think that’s what he’s going to do.
“All that said, can he do that against a guy with unbelievable boxing IQ and skillset? I don’t think it’s going to be enough. You have to go with Usyk to win the fight and I think he’ll win it widely on points.”
“I do believe that Dereck Chisora is, at heavyweight, the perfect gatekeeper – if I can use that term without insulting him – for Oleksandr Usyk.
“So much has been said about his potential – Usyk, that is – and in technical terms, he’s probably the best out of all of the heavyweights.
“But, we don’t know where he stands as a heavyweight yet because we don’t know how he’ll fair against heavyweight power, pressure and shots.
“Because of his boxing ability, we assume he’ll be cleaner and more efficient than most heavyweights out there at the moment, but you have to be able to navigate your speed with that important power…
“Chisora has admitted he won’t be able to outbox this guy, he needs to stick it on him and keep him under pressure.
“This is a test case for Usyk to deal with a heavyweight that is going to be on his case.
“Usyk will pick at Dereck and wear him down for a late stoppage or is Dereck going to be able to cut the ring off and drag him into a brawl.
“That’s where Dereck best chance is, but he’s against someone faster, crisper and more efficient, it’s just Usyk isn’t as naturally heavy – he has to grow into it.
“I hope Dereck wins, and I’m quite sure the whole country wants him to win. But, I’ve got to be honest, and I hope he doesn’t take it personally, but I think Usyk is going to win.
“He’s going to outbox Dereck and the ref will probably end up stepping in late.”
“You’re going in there against a heavyweight, someone who’s always been a heavyweight.
“A big, strong boy in Dereck is and the one thing than you can never write off is a punch. And Dereck Chisora’s got a punch.
“If that right hook lands, the same right hook that landed on Carlos Takam and put him out.
“The same right hook that knocked Artur Szpilka into next week lands, he’s got a chance.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s mission impossible, it really, really is.
“That’s how it looks on paper, but if anyone’s got a chance, it’s Dereck Chisora.”
“Well it [sparring with Usyk] weren’t the most fun experience I’ve ever had, to be honest with you, I’ve had more fun in my life than getting punched round by him.
“But he is the real deal, absolutely the real deal. The fight for Chisora, for me, is not a foregone conclusion. But in terms of boxing ability; Usyk is on another level altogether.
“But if Dereck clips him, it will quickly level everything up so I’m really intrigued by it.
“But Usyk; possibly the best fighter I have ever shared the ring with.”