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Oleksandr Usyk still pressing for WBO mandatory shot, doesn’t want interim bout

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The WBO’s mandatory heavyweight challenger remains a roadblock in regards to an undisputed title fight.

Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk weigh in before WBO light heavyweight title fight Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua might could fight for all four heavyweight title belts this year, but the biggest roadblock as stands now remains WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, who still intends to enforce his shot at one of the three belts held by Joshua.

Usyk promoter Alexander Krassyuk tells Sky Sports they still have no intention of waiting any longer or taking an interim fight to allow Fury-Joshua to happen first:

“Usyk is in good conditions now, he successfully recovered from his last fight and looks forward to challenge for the title this spring. A non-title fight has never been under discussion and I really hope it will never be.”

Usyk (18-0, 13 KO) last fought on Oct. 31, beating Derek Chisora in what was really Usyk’s first serious fight at heavyweight. We’ve said this before — we’ve said ALL of this before — but Usyk is 33 years old. Stepping up from cruiser to heavy is never going to be an easy task for anyone, and not many have done it too successfully over the years. If Usyk is going to take his shot, the time is now. There’s not going to be some better situation that comes along for him.

So either Usyk forces Joshua into a fight in April or May, which continues to be what I expect, or he forces AJ to vacate if he wants to chase the Fury fight immediately. Realistically, Fury-Joshua can probably wait until late 2021, but probably is not definitely. Joshua would be favored over Usyk, but it’s not a gimme he’d win.

If Joshua were to vacate, Usyk would probably face the WBO’s No. 2 contender, Joe Joyce, but being boxing you never know, and other names could get in the mix, too. Usyk-Joyce would have a natural audience in the UK, though, being for a world title in a country where obviously heavyweight boxing is abnormally hot, and Usyk having good exposure there thanks to his wins over Chisora and Tony Bellew on UK soil.