Saturday night, at the Forum in Inglewood, California, WBO World Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, 11-0,10 KO’s defeated Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunuby, 17-3, 11 KO’s by 9th round technical knockout to retain his title. Fighting on the Bernard Hopkins – Joe Smith, JR. undercard, Usyk dropped the challenger three times en route to a ninth-round knockout victory that featured very little action despite the knockdowns.
After a dull start to the fight, 29-year-old Usyk began to get a little bit busier in the fifth round and began to land combinations. In the sixth round he picked it up even more and seemed to have 28-year-old South African in trouble with a series of power shots before knocking him down with a left uppercut. Usyk, who started to take control of the contest, began attacking the shorter Mchunu with stiff jabs before he scored two knockdowns in the ninth round, both on left hands. After the second one, referee Lou Moret waved off the fight at 1 minute, 53 seconds.
Overall, Usyk connected on 163 of his 516 punches (31.6%) whereas Mchunu connected on only 76 of his 278 punches (27.3%). Usyk landed 21.3% (66/310) of his jabs, compared to Mchunu, who landed only 19.1% (30/157) of his jabs. Usyk connected on 47.1% (97/206) of his power punches in contrast to Mchunu, who only connected on 38.0% (46/121) of his power punches.
“I get to take my belt back home, and I got to do it with my fellow Ukrainians in the crowd,” Usyk said. “We were hoping to get the knockout earlier, but we got it and we’re looking forward to bringing more fights to this cruiserweight division.”
By winning the title in only his 10th professional fight, Usyk, the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist for Ukraine, broke the division record for fewest fights needed to win a world title. Evander Holyfield, who won a cruiserweight world title in his 12th fight by outpointing Hall of Famer Dwight Muhammad Qawi in an epic 15-rounder in 1986, was the previous owner of the record.
“He got the better of me, and he used it against me,” Mchunu said. “All I can say now is that we have to go back to square one.”
Also on the same card, featherweight prospect Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, JR., 23-0, 13 KO’s, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, dominated Horacio “Violento” Garcia, 30-2-1, 22 KO’s to register a 10-round unanimous decision. All three judges scored the contest 100-90.
Diaz, JR. connected on 42% (266/629) of his punches while Garcia only connected on 17% (116/690) of his total punches. The 23-year old Diaz, from South El Monte, California, was quicker and appeared to be the heavier hitter as he attacked Garcia to the body and with uppercuts throughout the fight.
“I knew I was facing a tough, experienced opponent, so my plan was to go in there and get him using my jabs, angles and everything I worked on in my training camp,” Diaz, JR. said. “I came in and got what I wanted and I’m very happy with the outcome.”
“It was a power versus speed fight,” Garcia said. “For every power punch I would throw, he would throw two. I agree with the judge’s decision, and we’ll hit the gym to make the adjustments.”Contact the Feature Writers