This Saturday night undefeated WBO Cruiserweight World Champion Oleksandr Usyk (10-0, 9 KOs) will make his first defense against Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs) at the Forum in Inglewood, California. This exciting match-up will open HBO World Championship Boxing telecast beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT headlined by Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr. Below is the scouting report for this bout:
Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu
10-0 (9 KOs)
17-2 (11 KOs)
Usyk has knockout power in both hands and is a tremendous pressure fighter. He possesses possibly the most dangerous left hand in the division, as well as a jab that is consistently at work.
Thabiso may have the fastest hands in the division. He throws lightning quick combinations and is a dangerous counter-puncher. He is also quick on his feet, making it very difficult to land clean.
Although he had an extensive amateur career, he has just 10 pro fights under his belt. A majority of his bouts took place in Ukraine; this will be the first on US soil, where the crowd support may not be as much as he is accustomed to.
Mchunu’s stamina has gotten him into trouble in the past, most notably in his 2015 title eliminator bout with Illunga Makabu, a bout in which he was ahead on all cards before running out of steam in the championship rounds.
Oleksandr has plenty of amateur experience, accumulating over 400 bouts and a 2012 gold medal at the Summer Olympics. He has only had 10 professional bouts, but in his most recent fight he won the WBO Cruiserweight title from Krzysztof Glowacki.
The Rock has almost double the professional fights under his belt compared to his opponent. Along the way he has defeated credible opposition in former title contenders Eddie Chambers and Olanrewaju Durodola.
The Ukranian’s power has been a force thus far in his young career. He delivers a relentless body attack and a ferocious left hand that can end the fight at any time.
Mchunu has solid power that is primarily based off of his speed. His power will be felt most when he unloads his combinations.
Usyk has above average speed, both in his hands and his feet. He keeps a steady and consistent pace throughout the fight and really turns it up a notch when going for the finish.
Thabiso’s speed is his strongest attribute; he is very agile in the ring. His cat-like reflexes make it very difficult for his opponents to connect and steer clear of his counter-punches.
Usyk may have a slight edge in endurance regardless of having only 10 pro bouts. He was forced to go the distance for the first time in his most recent bout for the WBO Cruiserweight title. He was able to go a full 12 rounds and earn a decision win in enemy territory.
Mchunu’s endurance has been his kryptonite thus far in his career. He will need to maintain a steady and consistent pace in this bout considering the relentless attack that his opponent is known to deliver.
Usyk has solid accuracy; he keeps his jab productive all night. He has been very effective in breaking his opponents down with his in-your-face style.
Mchunu picks his shots wisely and is not known to waste punches. His accuracy could be on full display if he can get on the inside and unleash his quick combinations.
Usyk’s best defense is his rigorous offensive attack. He has made it very difficult for any of his prior opponents to get going offensively.
Mchunu’s defense is one of his finest traits as a fighter. His agility and quick reflexes make it difficult for any fighter to feel comfortable offensively.
Usyk proved in his last bout that he can take a shot. He took hard punches from Glowacki for 12 rounds and was able to stand his ground and deliver more of his own.
Thabiso has been stopped twice in his career, with one of those stoppages coming against former title contender Illunga Makabu in 2015.
Oleksandr is an aggressive, in-your-face fighter who doesn’t take his foot off of the gas all night. He is willing to take some to give some and will throw the whole kitchen sink in the process.
Mchunu is a defensive-minded fighter who utilizes his hand speed and agility to keep his opponents guessing. He has also shown that he has no problem standing and trading shots with anyone in the division.
Usyk has never fought in the US, but the hardcore fans in attendance will be familiar with him. Due to his exciting fighting style, those who do not know him may keep him on their radar by the night’s end.
Mchunu has fought in the US in the past and earned some big wins in the process. If he lets his hands go the way he has before, then he may very well share the crowd support here.
Usyk does not believe in tune-up bouts. He has been on a fast-track to the title since he turned pro and was thrown into the gauntlet to do so. Each of his opponents had winning records as well as more experience than him leading up to his bouts. With his first fight on US soil looming and the pressure to impress on HBO, he has chosen one of the more difficult fighters in the division to showcase his talents. He will face a young and experienced fighter who is hungry to get back on top and one who many believe to be the fastest cruiserweight in the world.
Mchunu has earned big wins in his career, both on big stages and in front of live audiences. At the young age of 28, he has time to regroup and earn some easy wins until his name is called upon again. However, Mchunu accepted challenging fights his whole career and does not plan to stop now. There are less-challenging contenders in the division that he could have petitioned for, but he believes that he is the best cruiserweight in the world. He knows the fastest way to prove that is to defeat Oleksandr Usyk, who many believe is one of the best talents in the sport.
1. Will Mchunu be able to handle the power of Usyk?
2. Will Usyk be able to handle the boxing ability of Mchunu?
3. Will Mchunu’s stamina be a problem in this 12 round bout?
4. Will Usyk be able to handle the pressure of fighting in the US and on HBO for the first time?
According to Main Events’ matchmaker and 2015 NABF Matchmaker of the Year Jolene Mizzone, “This is a great matchup. As the champion, Usyk could have taken an easier opponent but he wants to challenge himself. Mchunu who could have also taken an easier fight but is hungry for a world title. Fights like these are made for fireworks. It obviously is a must win for both fighters.”