Oleksandr Usyk “should become” automatic WBO mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua if the Ukrainian moves up to heavyweight, says promoter Eddie Hearn.
Britain’s unified champion is yet to agree his next title defence, with Dillian Whyte or Jarrell Miller likely opponents for dates in April or May, but Usyk could force his way into Joshua’s plans for a fight later in the year.
The undisputed cruiserweight king could be immediately installed as the next challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt, despite Whyte’s status as the No 1 fighter in their current rankings.
Last year, WBO made Usyk their ‘Super Champion,’ at cruiserweight, which means he’s now available to be Anthony Joshua’s mandatory challenger once he moves up in weight to heavyweight.
Hearn said: “Joshua wants the Usyk fight.
“He is fascinated by that kind of thing because he wants to test himself against people who he thinks are brilliant. He thinks Usyk is brilliant. He is up for it.”
“Based on the rules of the WBO, his promoter can request to the championship committee to name Usyk the mandatory challenger in the heavyweight division,” a WBO representative said to talksport.com.
You can argue that this is a slick move on the WBO’s part in making the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Usyk their ‘Super Champion’. This is because it potentially speeds up the process of him facing Joshua for a title.
There is a lot of money from a Joshua vs Usyk fight, after all both are 2012 Olympic gold medalists. Usyk’s gold medal victory over Clemente Russo of Italy was arguably a lot more impressive than Joshua’s controversial win over Roberto Cammarelle in the super heavyweight finals in the 2012 Olympics.
Critics have argued that Camarelle was not given credit for a lot of hard shots that he landed in the contest.