Oleksandr Usyk was a class above as the Ukrainian heavyweight debutant forced an exhausted Chazz Witherspoon to retire.
Oleksandr Usyk started life in the heavyweight division with a seventh-round stoppage of Chazz Witherspoon.
Former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Usyk was making his heavyweight debut in Chicago on Saturday, having made the step up.
Usyk (17-0) was a class above as the Ukrainian forced an exhausted Witherspoon to retire following the seventh round at Wintrust Arena.
Witherspoon was the opponent for Usyk in his first heavyweight fight after replacing Tyrone Spong (14-0) – who was denied a boxing license by the Illinois State Athletic Commission after there were adverse findings in two of his urine tests.
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“I was waiting for this moment,” Usyk said afterwards. “We had some little difficulties because we have to change opponents.
“I didn’t show it to anybody, 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.”
Usyk added: “I did what my trainer told me to do. I just followed orders. We had a plan and the plan was to box and I did box. If there was an opportunity, I would use that opportunity.”
It was Usyk’s first bout in almost a year following the 32-year-old’s victory over Tony Bellew at cruiserweight in November 2018.
“There is a little bit of difference, but I used to fight as a heavyweight [as an amateur]. But yes, it was different,” Usyk said.
“I am ready, I am ready to fight whoever. If they give me the mandatory [title shot] then of course I am ready to take it.”