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WBA orders Usyk-Lebedev (again)

Lebedev has been “champion in recess” since February of last year

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

Unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk now has something of a deadline for his move to heavyweight, as the WBA has ordered him to defend his titles against Denis Lebedev. The sides have until March 28th to negotiate, after which they will hold a purse bid with a 75/25 split.

This is the second time the WBA has given this order; the first time, they used it to complicate Usyk’s (16-0, 12 KO) planned match with Tony Bellew because the WBA is garbage. In all likelihood, this will just result in Lebedev (32-2, 23 KO) fighting for the vacant “super” belt.

It’s not clear whom he would fight, though. WBA #1 Yuniel Dorticos and #2 Andrew Tabiti are both tied up in the World Boxing Super Series, leaving #3 Ryad Merhy the highest-ranked contender. They could, of course, just pit Lebedev against “world” champ Beibut Shumenov or “gold” champ Arsen Goulamirian, but that would require the WBA sacrificing a belt and I don’t see that happening.

Usyk’s debut opponent at heavyweight remains similarly up in the air, as his original plan to fight Alexander Povetkin in May fell through.

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