Oleksandr Usyk appreciates undisputed championships as much as anyone, being a former undisputed cruiserweight champion and all. But he does not intend to step aside and wait for his mandatory WBO heavyweight title shot and allow the Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua bout(s) to take place ahead of him.
Alexander Krassyuk, Usyk’s co-promoter, tells Sky Sports that Usyk (17-0, 13 KO) fully intends to enforce his WBO shot, and that they’ve already been lenient about the timing once to allow Kubrat Pulev to take his mandatory IBF shot against Joshua, who also holds the WBO and WBA belts:
“Usyk’s WBO mandatory had to happen before AJ vs Pulev. But we were flexible and did not put much pressure on, allowing AJ to complete his IBF mandatory while Usyk fights Chisora. But (Joshua-Pulev) was made with regards that the WBO champ has to make his mandatory versus Usyk. It means that either Joshua fights Usyk first or fights Fury without the WBO belt.”
Since his delayed move up to heavyweight last year, the 33-year-old Usyk and his team have been clear that they didn’t intend to wait around for too long. The WBO made him mandatory challenger before he even fought at the weight.
So if you’re counting, the road to Fury-Joshua, if it is to truly be an undisputed title fight, looks like this:
- Stage One: Fury vs Deontay Wilder (contractually obligated third fight), Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev (IBF mandatory defense)
- Stage Two: Joshua vs Usyk (WBO mandatory defense), possibly Fury vs Dillian Whyte (potential WBC mandatory defense)
- Stage Three: Fury vs Joshua for all four titles
And that’s if Fury and Joshua keep winning. None of those are gimme fights.
For the time being, Usyk is set to face Derek Chisora (32-9, 23 KO) at some point, whenever Matchroom get running again. A lot of things can happen here, including Usyk losing to Chisora and a WBO mandatory defense not even being a factor any time soon.