Oleksandr Usyk is ready to put another major barrier in the way of a Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua superfight by exercising his “solid” right to a showdown with AJ for the WBO world heavyweight title.
Usyk (17-0), the slick former cruiserweight king, has fought just once since moving up to boxing’s marquee weight division, a defeat of Chazz Witherspoon in Chicago late last year. He is expected to have his second against tough UK veteran Dereck Chisora (32-9) in late October.
The Ukrainian superstar has been mandatory contender for Joshua’s WBO belt since he first decided to make the move from cruiser. His team believe he has a “solid” claim to fight Joshua, once the Watford man has faced IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev on Saturday December 12 at London’s O2 Arena.
Usyk’s co-promoter Alex Krassyuk told Sky Sports: “Usyk has been the WBO mandatory challenger for more than one year. He has agreed to let AJ versus Pulev happen, with regards that the winner fights him next. This statement is still solid.
“Our plan is A) beat Derek Chisora B) push AJ to comply with WBO rules or vacate the title C) defeat AJ (or any other WBO champion or contender and become the heavyweight champion. Simple and practical.”
The news will further frustrate UK fight fans who had been salivating at the prospect of Fury vs Joshua becoming reality after WBC mandatory Dillian Whyte ceased to become an obstacle following his recent stoppage defeat by Alexander Povetkin.
If AJ is forced to fight Usyk next after Pulev, it would give the IBF, WBA and WBO king a very tough decision to make. He can take on the Ukrainian or vacate the title and move on to Fury. But the latter route would mean Fury vs Joshua would not be for the undisputed championship, something that is a stated main aim for AJ.