Former undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk defeated a dogged and brave Derek Chisora to put a firm stamp on his stay in the top division.
Usyk was largely unfazed throughout the contest as the 33-year-old claimed a second triumph at the weight class.
Passing his first major test in the heavyweight ranks, Usyk outpointed Chisora to prevail in their high-stakes clash via unanimous decision.
Scores were a little closer than what they should have been, though, on two of the cards. Usyk took the verdict 117-112, 115-113, and 115-113 again.
Ukraine’s undefeated Olympic gold medallist answered doubts about his natural size by displaying his electric footwork and razor-sharp punch accuracy against Chisora at The SSE Arena, Wembley.
Usyk remains the WBO Mandatory Challenger to Anthony Joshua, who watched from ringside and intends to fight him in 2021.
“I was very happy to be back in the ring,” Usyk told Matchroom afterward. “I haven’t fought for more than a year.
“It was a huge pleasure for me. You saw my smile when I went into the ring. I really want to thank god for this victory.
“Derek has big power, he has strong punches, but I was prepared for it.”
OLEKSANDR USYK wants AJ
He continued: “I didn’t think about his boxing IQ. All I was thinking about was boxing and what I wanted to do.
“I am very thankful for Derek, giving me this opportunity. I’m very thankful to this family and his team. I am happy.
“He is a good man. Anthony (Joshua), how are you? I am coming for you.”
Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “Chisora a big guy, a hard guy. I was expecting a fight like that, and I was expecting a tougher fight.
“I plan to go to my home, have maximum time with my family. Training and improving myself. Not just World Champion, the Undisputed World Champion.”
A disappointed Chisora reacted to defeat: “I feel great. I was pushing the pace. I’m just disappointed with the result, gutted.
“To everybody who can’t make it, I’m gutted for everybody. In the Heavyweight game, you have to fight, not box. I gave a couple of rounds away.”