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WBA orders Oleksandr Usyk to face Denis Lebedev

They have until the first week of October to negotiate

Oleksandr Usyk v Thabiso Mchunu Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The one time the WBA actually does its job...

The sanctioning body has ordered unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk to face “champion-in-recess” Denis Lebedev, just as Usyk’s squad appeared to be finalizing a November 10th match with Tony Bellew. According to Lebedev’s manager, Vadim Kornilov, the two have until October 3rd or 4th to negotiate.

As TalkSport notes, Usyk (15-0, 11 KO) can and probably will either get dispensation from the WBA for his “significant” bout with Bellew or offer Lebedev step-aside money. There’s really no point in the WBA making the announcement at this time other than extortion.

It’s not that Lebedev (30-2, 22 KO) is a bad opponent by any stretch of the imagination. He’s been a staple of the division elite for nearly a decade and his only losses were split decisions against Marco Huck and Murat Gassiev. He was even ahead on the cards in the loss-turned-NC against Guillermo Jones despite his eye looking like there was a tennis ball trying to escape his skull. It’s just that Bellew is at his biggest and the storyline there is far more interesting.