Oleksandr Usyk remains the major blocker to Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua being for the undisputed world heavyweight title, but maybe not for much longer.
All the belts currently reside in the UK with Fury the WBC (as well as Ring magazine and lineal) heavyweight champion while Joshua holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
Former cruiserweight king Usyk (18-0) is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt, and is due a shot at the Watford behemoth next. AJ though – and great rival Fury – would much prefer to meet each other instead.
Joshua (24-1) could of course vacate the WBO strap to move on to Fury straight away, but that would mean the all-British showdown would no longer feature all of the major belts.
Now though it appears moves are being made to try and resolve the situation so Fury vs Joshua can indeed result in the first undisputed world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis back in 1999.
Would Usyk step aside?
According to Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk, he has received communications from more than one party which suggest his man might not get his title shot just yet.
He told Sky Sports: “I received the call from George Warren (son of promoter Frank) with the offer to promote Usyk vs Joyce for the interim WBO heavyweight championship this spring. We also received the letter from WBO saying that they are considering granting sanction for AJ vs Fury.”
Krassyuk now says it is time for somebody to make Usyk a serious offer to step aside, or give him the immediate title shot he is due.
“But Usyk has never received any serious offer nor anyone approached him with the offer to ‘step aside’. We all read it from media,” he went on.
“I know that the WBO in general and its president Paco Valcarcel in particular will never violate the rules of its organisation and sanction the major fight without Usyk’s consent.
“So now is the best time for the AJ vs Fury fight promoters to make Usyk a serious offer either to fight the WBO champion or to step aside and fight for the interim.”
Fury and Joshua are currently expected to meet in late May or early July, outside the UK and likely in the Middle East. It is hoped the COVID-19 pandemic may have subsided enough for an immediate rematch to take place back on these shores.
The two men are expected to make around $100million each from the bout (per Fury’s U.S. promoter Bob Arum) . Those would be comfortably the biggest purses ever for British fighters.
Joyce meanwhile put himself in the frame for a bout with Usyk by knocking out fellow unbeaten British prospect Daniel Dubois in November. He is now ranked #2 by the WBO, right behind the Ukrainian superstar.