Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing made a trip back to Chicago for the second time at the Wintrust Arena. This time, it featured the heavyweight debut of 2018 Fighter of the Year and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. A large and lively Ukrainian crowd of 9,000 plus were on hand to root for their hero Usyk. Also on the card was top light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol and Chicago’s own Jessica McCaskill.
In the main event, Oleksandr Usyk, 17-0, 13 KO’s, of Ukraine stopped Chazz Witherspoon, 38-4, 29 KO’s in the seventh round. Witherspoon was a late replacement as the original opponent Tyrone Spong had failed a drug test during the week. Witherspoon had more experience than Spong and was coming off an eight fight winning streak. Still Usyk needed to show if he can hang in with the heavyweights and Saturday night he showed us he can. The first round was a feel out round for both fighters. Usyk with his tight guard didn’t’ throw much in the round. Witherspoon came forward and tried to connect some punches, but nothing really landed. The fight started to warm up in round two. Usyk started to fire his trademark right jab and started to back up Witherspoon. In round three, Usyk was really letting his punches go. He started to throw straight left hands and he was hitting his target. Anything he landed drew loud cheers from the crowd. From rounds four-six, it was more of the same, except Usyk was doing better each round. At times, Witherspoon tried to counter Uysk, but was unsuccessful. Knowing that Witherspoon was starting to wear out, Usyk was going for the knockout. He backed up Witherspoon against the ropes, landing straight left hands and going to the body. Witherspoon was taking a beating but finished the round. At the end of the 6th round, the corner had seen enough and stopped the fight. Usyk was declared the winner by TKO.
Usyk did what he was supposed to do and looked great in his heavyweight debut but against the right opponent. Next? I don’t think a fight with the winner of Ruiz/Joshua should happen next. I really think a fight with Carlos Takam, which was supposed to be the original opponent, should be the next step.
In the co-feature of the night, Dmitry Bivol, 17-0, 11 KO’s, of Russia retained the WBA Light Heavyweight title by defeating Lenin Castillo, 20-3-1, 15 KO’s, of Dominican Republic by unanimous decision. Bivol received a lot of cheers from the crowd when he entered the ring and Bivol was looking to entertain the Chicago crowd. Bivol did what he does best and that was box. From rounds 1-5, Bivol was out boxing Castillo using his jab very effectively. Bivol was landing the right hand to the head and body of Castillo. In round six, with Castillo coming forward, Bivol landed a counter right hand that dropped Castillo. Castillo got up and Bivol decided to take his time with landing his left jab to finish the round instead of finishing him off. From rounds 7-9, Castillo put the pressure a little more in the fight but Bivol remained the busier of the two fighters. This is when the frustration set upon the crowd in attendance. In rounds 10-12, Bivol used his superior boxing skills and continued to beat Castillo with the jab. The fight ended and Bivol won by wide scores of 120-107, 119-108 (twice). During the post-fight interview, Bivol was booed from the crowd due to the lack of excitement in the fight and not finishing his opponent. Fans should know that styles make fights. Bivol dominated the fight and he should get credit for that. Also the fans need to put some blame on Castillo for not making it a more entertaining fight.
Bivol made the sixth defense of his WBA Light Heavyweight title and wants to unify the titles. Hopefully we see that soon.
Undefeated Otha Jones III, 4-0, 1 KO, of Toledo, OH defeated Eric Manriquez, 7-9-1, 3 KO’s, of Houston, TX by majority decision in a super featherweight bout. This fight looked on paper that it would be an easy night for Jones. He did start well in the fight and won the first two rounds. However, Manriquez showed toughness and came back in rounds three and four. The scores were 38-38, 40-36, 39-37 for Jones. I agreed with the 38-38 scorecard.
As Usyk and Bivol were the two main events of the night, a lot of fans also came to see hometown hero Jessica McCaskill.
WBC and WBA Super Lightweight Champion Jessica McCaskill, 8-2, 3 KO’s, of Chicago, IL successfully defended her titles by defeating Erica Farias, 26-4, 10 KO’s, of Argentina by majority decision. This fight was a rematch from the first slugfest a year ago where McCaskill defeated Farias and won the WBC title. Since then McCaskill added the WBA title by defeating Anahi Sanchez back in May. Once again we anticipated another great fight between McCaskill and Farias but this time the outcome was a lot different. It seemed like we were going to see a repeat of the first fight. McCaskill was applying the pressure landing hard punches and Farias was landing some good counter punches. After that the fight ended up being a clinch fest which was initiated by Farias. In round four, Farias was deducted a point for holding and it seemed she should of got more point deductions or a possible disqualification. When it seemed the action would pick up as McCaskill came forward, Farias would keep grabbing. In round six, McCaskill was deducted a point deduction for hitting behind the head of Farias. The fight continued on and Farias kept the holding strategy as McCaskill tried to make a brawl out of it. The fight went to distance and McCaskill simply outworked Farias despite the excessive holding by Farias to earn a decision.
McCaskill has been on a winning streak since her loss to Katie Taylor and I think a rematch between the two should happen.
2016 Olympian Arthur Biyarslanov, 5-0, 4 KO’s, of Russia defeated Tyrome Jones, 4-6-1, 1 KO, of South Bend, IN by unanimous decision. Based on the records, it seemed it would be another knockout victory for the 24 year old Russian. However it was a lot tougher fight than he expected. Jones had a difficult style for Biyaslanov and the Russian couldn’t not figure him out. To make things more frustrating, Biyaslanov was bloodied with a cut on the bridge of the nose and on his right eye. Either way, he was busier than Jones which earned him the victory over six rounds.
Rising super middleweight contender Anthony Sims Jr, 20-0, 18 KO’s, of Plainfield, IN stopped Morgan Fitch, 19-3-1, 8 KO’s, of Pittsburgh, PA, in the 5th round. In round one, Sims wasted no time. He landed a right hand that hurt Fitch. Fitch went down on one knee. Fitch got up and Sims backed Fitch to the ropes with a flurry of punches and Fitch went down again. Fitch managed to get up and finish the round. Instead of trying to finish Fitch off, Sims stayed busy in rounds 2-4 by outworking Fitch. In round five, Sims landed a quick right hand that dropped Fitch once again. Fitch got up and continued. Sims threw a flurry of punches which prompted the ref to stop the fight.
In the post-fight interview, Sims called out Rocky Fielding in a fight in the UK. Sims seems to be a top super middleweight to look out for.
Undefeated Charles Conwell, 11-0, 8 KO’s, of Cleveland, OH knocked out Patrick Day, 17-4-1, 6 KO’s, of Freeport, NY, in the 10th round of a super welterweight bout. Conwell who was a 2016 Olympian was looking for a spectacular performance for the audience but the attention quickly turned to Patrick Day. Conwell throughout the fight was having his way landing the better punches of the two fighters. Conwell dropped Day in round four with a right hand. Day managed to get up and continue with the fight. Conwell dropped Day again in round eight and once again Day got up and fought on. In round ten, Conwell landed a body shot that hurt Day. Conwell followed this up with a right hand that staggered Day. Conwell then landed a crushing left hook that knocked out Day. Day had to be taken out on a stretcher.
In sad news, it has been reported that Day is in critical condition and in a coma. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Day and we hope for a fast recovery.
TJ Doheny, 22-1, 15 KO’s, of Australia, made his return back to the ring by stopping Jesus Martinez, 26-10, 13 KO’s, of Colombia in the 5th round of a super bantamweight bout. Doheny wasted no time in round one and came after Martinez. He landed a straight left hand that dropped Martinez. Martinez got up but Doheny applied the pressure mixing his attack with body punches. Martinez was tough and battled with Doheny from rounds 2-4. However it was the pressure and body attack of Doheny that was the major factor in this fight. In round five, Doheny landed a left hand that dropped Martinez. Martinez got up but was then hurt by an uppercut at the end of the round. Martinez could no longer continue.
Doheny is in hopes of getting another crack at Daniel Roman which should be another great fight.
In the opening bout, Summer Lynn of Chicago, IL was successful in her pro debut by outpointing Jenna Thompson, 1-3-1, of Toledo, OH by unanimous decision with scores of 40-36 (twice), and 39-37 in a four rounder super welterweight contest. This fight was a good start to the card as both women went swinging for the fences. They both exchanged punches in the middle of the ring. However it was the clean punches landed by Lynn that gave her the victory.