Chazz Witherspoon wasn’t criticizing Oleksandr Usyk.
The veteran heavyweight was just being honest when he was asked about Usyk’s power now that the former undisputed cruiserweight champion has ventured into that division. Despite that he lost by technical knockout to Usyk on Saturday night in Chicago, Witherspoon never felt truly hurt in any of the seven rounds in which they went at it.
Witherspoon thinks his lack of conditioning was more of a factor in why he wasn’t able to continue in their scheduled 12-round fight at DePaul University’s Wintrust Arena. The 38-year-old Witherspoon (38-4, 29 KOs) accepted their fight on four days’ notice, once it was revealed Usyk’s original opponent, Tyrone Spong, failed a performance-enhancing drug test.
“I mean, I really can’t speak to that,” Witherspoon told BoxingScene.com in reference to Usyk’s power. “I was never hurt. More than anything, I got tired and my coach kind of saved me from myself type of thing, because he just kept asking me, ‘You all right? You all right? You all right?’ So, my coach kind of saved me from myself. Because I’ll just keep going. But [Usyk] should be successful as a heavyweight.”
Witherspoon’s trainer, Tommy Brooks, instructed referee Hector Afu to stop their fight following a seventh round in which Usyk began beating up a fatigued Witherspoon.
Once those one-sided three minutes ended, Witherspoon walked slowly toward his corner. By then, Witherspoon was bleeding from his mouth and had swelling around his right eye.
The Philadelphia native credited Ukraine’s Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) for his ring IQ, speed and awkwardness, yet he feels he could’ve given the skillful southpaw a better battle if he had more time to properly prepare.
“I think if I was in better shape, I could’ve landed some solid shots, some better shots,” Witherspoon said. “And I think he was slowing down as well. Even though he was in better shape than me, he was slowing down. Because some of the jabs I was still able to land from time to time. … I wouldn’t have been as tired, because I really don’t get tired that quick.
“But I didn’t really have the time that I needed to prepare for this. But still, my hat’s off to him. I’m not trying to take nothing away from his win. He did what he had to do. His fans are great. They walk up, they give me a lot of respect. His management, Matchroom, DAZN, I’m good with everybody.”
A game Witherspoon tried to fight back, but Usyk was too active and accurate even for an opponent that out-weighed him by 27 pounds.
“I mean, I’m not proud of my performance because I lost,” Witherspoon said. “But, I mean, at the end of the day, I guess people see that I put up the effort. I wasn’t just talking, I was trying to walk it. But yeah, like I said, if I had more time, I think it would be a different outcome. I might be partying myself. So yeah, I don’t know.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.