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Oleksandr Usyk will face replacement foe Chazz Witherspoon in heavyweight debut

Photo by World Boxing Super Series
08
Oct

Oleksandr Usyk will have a new opponent for his heavyweight debut on Saturday. The former undisputed cruiserweight champ will face Chazz Witherspoon after the Illinois State Athletic Commission declined to license original opponent Tyron Spong due to “adverse findings” in two urine samples submitted to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency.

Witherspoon (38-3, 29 knockouts) is 38 years old and a native of Philadelphia. Though he has won his last eight, he’s been inactive for significant stretches in recent years, taking over two years off after his third round stoppage loss to Seth Mitchell in 2012, missed another 17 months from 2016 to 2018, and was off for a year before his most recent fight, a second round stoppage of Santander Silgado.

Prior to the Mitchell loss, Witherspoon had fallen short in his two previous steps-up, against Chris Arreola (DQ3 in 2008) and Tony Thompson (TKO9 in 2009).

“I can’t wait to face Usyk in Chicago,” said Witherspoon, in a press release from Matchroom Boxing on Tuesday afternoon. “I have been in training ready for a big fight, and it doesn’t get bigger than this. Oleksandr is stepping up to heavyweight – and he’s going to find out that it’s a totally different game.

Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) of Ukraine is also dealing with some inactivity, having seen his originally scheduled heavyweight debut fall out in May after he suffered a torn bicep, which he had to undergo surgery for. Usyk, 32, last was in the ring last November, when he stopped Tony Bellew in eight rounds in Manchester, England.

The fight will take place at the Wintrust Arena, and will air live on DAZN in the United States.