Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua’s blockbuster heavyweight unification fight hits a hurdle as Ukrainian phenomenon Oleksandr Usyk’s team warn: ‘Either Joshua fights Usyk first or fights Fury without the WBO belt’
- Oleksandr Usyk wants his shot at the WBO heavyweight title next
- Usyk is the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBO belt
- That could force Joshua to relinquish the WBO belt before he fights Tyson Fury
- They have a financial agreement in place for world heavyweight unification fight
- But that unification fight could now not involve the WBO belt because of Usyk
Another potential spanner in the works has emerged for Tyson Fury‘s blockbuster world heavyweight championship unification fights with Anthony Joshua, with Oleksandr Usyk determined to secure his mandatory WBO title shot first.
While financial terms for two Fury vs Joshua fights have been agreed, the former must defend his WBC belt against Deontay Wilder first and the latter will face IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in their postponed duel.
Usyk, the undefeated cruiserweight who has stepped up a division and is rated among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, is next in line for a shot at Joshua’s WBO belt, and his insistence that his title shot takes priority next could mean that belt has to be relinquished if Joshua insists on fighting Fury first.
Anthony Joshua (above) has been warned he must face Oleksandr Usyk or lose his WBO belt
Usyk, the undefeated and much-feared Ukrainian, is the mandatory challenger with the WBO
His promoter Alexander Krassyuk told Sky Sports that they already had an agreement with Josuha’s team – before the Fury deal was done – that he would get his chance following the Pulev fight.
‘Usyk’s WBO mandatory had to happen before AJ vs Pulev,’ said Krassyuk.
‘But we were flexible and did not put much pressure on, allowing AJ to complete his IBF mandatory while Usyk fights Chisora.
‘But this was made with regards that the WBO champ (whoever he is after AJ vs Pulev) has to make his mandatory versus Usyk.
‘It means that either Joshua fights Usyk first or fights Fury without the WBO belt.’
Tyson Fury, the WBC champion, has a world heavyweight unification fight with Joshua agreed
Joshua will put his IBF, WBA and WBO belts on the line against Fury – if he still holds them
Like Joshua, Usyk, 33, won gold at the 2012 Olympics. He has since dominated the cruiserweight division, becoming the first fighter ever to unify all four major championship titles. He has won all 17 of his professional fights with 13 ending in knockouts.
Boxing bible The Ring rank him the fifth best pound-for-pound fighter, above both Fury and Joshua.
He knocked out Tony Bellew in Novemeber 2018 before stepping up to heavyweight, winning his only fight in the division so far against Chazz Witherspoon last October. Nevertheless he is already the WBO’s mandatory challenger.
Joshua said last year: ‘When I’m trying to build my record, I want opponents like Usyk to say that I’ve defeated them.
‘He’s still exploring the division but he wants a piece of the big pie – he’s more than welcome to try to take this out of my hands.’
Usyk’s team claim that they already have an agreement in place to fight for the WBO belt next
Dillian Whyte is also taking legal action against the WBC to try and ensure he gets his shot at their belt after Fury’s trilogy fight with Wilder.
Whyte is the mandatory challenger for Fury’s WBC championship after beating Oscar Rivas via unanimous decision in a final eliminator last July.
But with a two-fight deal agreed between Fury and Anthony Joshua for next year, and with Whyte’s mandatory fight due to take place by February 2021, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed they have received a legal challenge about the date of the mandatory fight.
Fury yesterday spoke out on Whyte’s challenge, saying: ‘He won’t get very far!’