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Oleksandr Usyk vs Alexander Povetkin possible for May 18

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The undisputed cruiserweight champion’s heavyweight debut is coming.

Oleksandr Usyk v Tony Bellew - Cruiserweight World Title Fight Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is eagerly eyeing a move to the heavyweight division in 2019, and Eddie Hearn has his target in sight.

Hearn is working on a deal to match Usyk (16-0, 12 KO) against former secondary titleholder and longtime contender Alexander Povetkin (34-2, 24 KO). ESPN reports the current working idea is for them to fight on May 18, possibly in Chicago.

Usyk turned pro in 2013 and got fast-tracked, winning his first world title (the WBO belt) in Sept. 2016, his 10th professional fight. He added the WBC title in a Jan. 2018 win over Mairis Briedis, and the IBF and WBA titles in a full unification victory over Murat Gassiev last July in Moscow.

Most recently, Usyk beat Tony Bellew on Nov. 10 in Manchester, sending Bellew into retirement.

Povetkin, at 39, has had a solid but in many ways unremarkable professional career. Like Usyk, he was a celebrated amateur and Olympic gold medalist (Povetkin in 2004, Usyk in 2012), and he’s had a lot of “pretty decent” sort of wins as a pro. But in his two biggest fights, he’s fallen short — he was decisioned by Wladimir Klitschko in a miserable 2013 fight, and stopped in seven last September by Anthony Joshua.

That said, Povetkin is still a talented boxer, a well-schooled, seasoned veteran, and still can be argued as a top five fighter in the heavyweight division. He’d be a terrific test to see what Usyk can do as a heavyweight, a legitimate challenge right out of the gate.