Mandatory Challenger Usyk sets sights on Joshua in Heavyweight Showdown

Ukraine’s former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk plans to coerce IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua into facing him or vacate his WBO title.

Usyk is the World Boxing Organization’s mandatory challenger .

Joshua is scheduled to make a mandatory defense against the IBF’s number one contender Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev, tentatively on December 12. Should Joshua win that clash, he plans to face WBC champion Tyson Fury in a much anticipated heavyweight unification.

According to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, the British rivals have thrashed out initial terms for two blockbuster battles. Both men could each reportedly earn between $60-$70million and double that for a rematch later in 2021.

But should Usyk win his heavyweight clash against Zimbabwean-born Derek Chisora, he plans to enforce his right to a WBO mandatory fight.

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“He has agreed to let AJ versus Pulev happen, with regards that the winner fights him next. This statement is still solid. Our plan is A) beat Derek Chisora B) push AJ to comply with WBO rules or vacate the title C) defeat AJ (or any other WBO champion or contender and become the heavyweight champion. Simple and practical.”

It is unclear at this stage which way the WBO would rule on this issue but in the unlikely event that Joshua is forced to vacate his title, the sanctioning body would order a fight with Usyk and either Joseph Parker or Daniel Dubois who are the next highest-ranked contenders.

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Joshua and Usyk both won gold medals in the heavyweight and cruiserweight categories respectively at the London Olympics in 2012.

Both boxers have gone on to have phenomenal professional careers with Joshua becoming a two-time heavyweight champion while Usyk won every major belt at cruiserweight, including the inaugural World Boxing Super Series tournament and is unbeaten in 17.

However, the Ukranian has been inactive lately due to injuries and the coronavirus pandemic.

He fought once in 2019, when he made his heavyweight debut with a stoppage win over late replacement Chazz Witherspoon. He is yet to fight in 2020 and his fight with Chisora is being targeted for a date in October.

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“According to our latest talks with Eddie, Usyk vs Chisora has to go at the end of October,” Krassyuk said. “Still much depends on COVID-19 restrictions but we all want to make it happen.”

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