Oleksandr Usyk will be hoping to continue his fledgling heavyweight career with a victory over Dereck Chisora on Saturday, but research from bookmaker William Hill has revealed that cruiserweights typically struggle in making the step-up in division to heavyweight.
Usyk heads into just his second ever heavyweight bout against Chisora this weekend, having previously dominated the cruiserweight division, where he reigned as undisputed world cruiserweight champion with a 100%-win record.
But after crunching the numbers on 10 major cruiserweights to have gone on to fight in five or more heavyweight bouts over the years, the statistics show that there is a major drop-off in performance, with the average win percentage of 92% at cruiserweight slumping to 60% at heavyweight.
Evander Holyfield, David Haye, Vasily Jirov, James Toney, Thomasz Adamek, Juan Carlos Gomes, Johnny Nelson, Steve Cunningham, Al Cole and Glenn McCrory were the 10 fighters analysed, with each boxer seeing their win percentage take a significant hit – Gomes had the smallest drop-off in performance with his win rate tailing off by 16%, while at the other end Cole’s saw a 66% drop.
Usyk, who defeated Chazz Witherspoon last year in his heavyweight debut, boasted a 75% knockout rate at cruiserweight but could also see that record tail off, with the statistics also showing that the average knockout percentage of 63% at cruiserweight drops to 26% at heavyweight. McCrory was the only boxer to see an improvement (+14%) once moving up divisions.
Usyk will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Holyfield and Haye as the only unified cruiserweight champions in history to become world heavyweight champions, while Holyfield is the only boxer to become undisputed champion at both weights.
Despite such success, Holyfield and Haye saw a 32% and 25% hit respectively in their win percentages when making the move up to heavyweight as well as 49% and 32% respective knockout rate deductions.
The research also showed that the average number of rounds contested at cruiserweight reduced by 39 from 164 to 125. Usyk fought 125 rounds at cruiserweight.
Tony Smith, UK Marketing Director at William Hill, said: “Oleksandr Usyk’s journey from cruiserweight to heavyweight success continues on Saturday when he faces Dereck Chisora in just his second fight in the division – but how do cruiserweights usually fare when making the step-up in weight?
“We decided to look at the statistics behind this to assess Usyk’s chances of heavyweight domination, but unfortunately for the Ukrainian, the numbers aren’t in his favour with the average win rate and knockout rate tailing off significantly when cruiserweights make the move up.
“Evander Holyfield and David Haye are also the only unified cruiserweight champions ever to become world heavyweight champions, which shows the task at hand. If Usyk wants to join them, he’ll need to see off Chisora this weekend and likely buck the trend by keeping up his superb record seen at cruiserweight level.”