It’s no secret that undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk wants to move up to heavyweight and face Anthony Joshua next year, and he says that’s a big reason he is fighting Tony Bellew, and has aligned with Eddie Hearn.
“One reason we have agreed to fight Bellew is to get to Joshua. It is exactly part of the strategy and why we have this cooperation with Eddie Hearn. He has Tony, he has Anthony, he has Dillian Whyte and a couple more heavyweights. It’s the best way, the shortest — not the easiest — way to fight Anthony.”
Usyk (15-0, 11 KO) puts his four title belts on the line on November 10 against Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KO) in what is looking more and more as if it will be his last fight in the division. Usyk and his team sound ready to move up already, but the Bellew fight is bigger with the belts — which is why Bellew himself has moved back down from two fights at heavyweight.
At 6’3” with a 78-inch reach, Usyk should be able to fill out well enough to be a legitimate threat at heavyweight, and there’s no questioning his skills. He’s the best cruiserweight in the world today and has proven it conclusively.
As for facing Joshua, that probably will have to wait no matter what happens in November. If Joshua doesn’t face Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury in April 2019 — which is looking less likely by the day at this point — then he’s probably going to rematch Dillian Whyte. So we could be talking about the autumn of 2019 before Usyk might get his crack, if all things go well, but that’s not bad. It could give Usyk, should he beat Bellew, time to get acclimated to heavyweight with a tune-up or two.