WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs) used a combination of boxing and punching to stop contender Thabiso Mchunu, (17-3, 11 KOs) in round nine after knocking him down three times in their fight at the Forum in Inglewood, California. While the boxing fans at ringside wanted to see the 29-year-old Usyk slug, he focused instead on winning rounds and landing fast combinations to bewilder the 28-year-old Mchunu.
In the 9th round, Usyk changed his game plan by throwing nonstop punches. This resulted in Mchunu going down twice. The fight was stopped after the second knockdown. Usyk did the same thing in the 6th in knocking Mchunu down with a blizzard of power shots. I don’t think any one punch from Usyk was devastating during the fight.
It was just the pure accumulation of punches that he was landing at the end. He’d been jabbing a lot and moving frequently in rounds one through five. Usyk started throwing a lot of shots in the 6th and Mchunu slowly fell apart from all the punches he was getting hit with. Mchunu, 5’11”, didn’t have the reach or the ring expertise to land his power shots on a frequent enough bases for him to be competitive in the fight. Mchunu did land a number of eye-catching shots in many of the rounds, but there was never enough for him to win rounds.
It was impressive that Usyk was able to stop Mchunu, as he defeated former heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers three years ago in 2013, when he made the mistake of moving down to cruiserweight to fight. Mchunu is still a very good fighter. He just wasn’t nearly good enough for him to compete against Usyk.
One thing that was hard to miss about tonight’s Usyk vs. Mchunu fight was the amount of booing from the boxing fans that saw the fight live at the Forum in Inglewood. The fans wanted to see nonstop action, but they didn’t get that from Usyk, who chose to box for much of the fight.
Even when Usyk started slugging in the 6th and scored a knockdown of Mchunu, some of the boxing fans continued to boo. They obviously wanted to see Usyk finish off Mchunu with power shots rather than letting him off the hook. Usyk wasn’t trying as hard in rounds 7 and 8 to get a knockout like he’d done in the 6th. The fans noticed that and booed him much of the time.
Usyk is a good fighter, but he’s not in the same mold as guys like Tony Bellew and Murat Gassiev in terms of his willingness or capability to slug it out. Usyk isn’t that big of a puncher, and he’s not going to try and shoot for knockouts above all else. Whether Usyk can still become a star in the U.S remains to be seen.
Other boxing action on the card:
Joseph Diaz UD 10 Horacio Garcia
100-90, 100-90 and 100-90.