Joe Joyce and his team are putting a two-week deadline on trying to land a fight with Oleksandr Usyk, with the ongoing Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua negotiations playing an obvious key role.
While Fury and Joshua are talking about a potential undisputed heavyweight title fight — and promoters are sounding confident it’s going to happen — that puts the WBO belt, one of three Joshua holds, potentially up in the air. Usyk is the mandatory challenger, and it would take the WBO granting Joshua an exception and forcing Usyk to wait longer, or the belt could wind up vacated, with Usyk facing someone for the strap
That someone would likely be Joyce (12-0, 11 KO), who leapt to No. 2 in the WBO rankings with his November win over Daniel Dubois. ( There is also a chance they could order a FINAL!!! eliminator between Usyk (18-0, 13 KO) and Joyce, or an interim title fight or whatever. They could also just make one up, sanctioning bodies love that. Call it the multiverse championship or whatever.)
Manager Sam Jones tells Sky Sports that Joyce wants to fight in April, which is the reason for having a deadline on a decision:
“We won’t stall his career. If it’s a different opponent then it’s a different opponent, unless the WBO order Joe and Uysk to have a final eliminator. It is all dependant on the Joshua-Fury situation. We have made it clear to Frank Warren, Joe’s promoter, that we want to fight Usyk even if it’s an interim title fight.”
Jones says Joyce would expect to be the underdog, as he was against Dubois, but they’re confident he would stop Usyk, as he did Dubois.
All of this kinda stinks in its way, as fans would really like to see the focus on an undisputed title fight, but Usyk has, by the laws of the land and all that, earned his shot at that WBO belt. And at any rate, Usyk-Joyce is a really good fight to make and one I think a lot of people would love to see, whether it’s for a vacant belt, interim belt, eliminator, or just a fight to have.