By: Hans Themistode
The undisputed title reign of either Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury will apparently be short-lived. With both heavyweight titlist headed towards a two fight showdown with all of the marbles on the line, whomever walks away from their first contest as the winner will become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Although there will be reason to celebrate, neither man will have time to bask in the ultimate glory for long.
“The WBO will have to be vacated after the first fight,” said promoter Eddie Hearn to The Express.
While the WBC, IBF and WBA sanctioning bodies have all been onboard in allowing their undisputed contest to take place, the WBO has always been reluctant. Their resistance to the showdown mostly stems from mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. After capturing every world title in the Cruiserweight division, Usyk decided that it was time to move on to bigger and better things. Upon arriving in the land of the heavyweights, the Ukrainian was guaranteed a title shot due to his status one weight class lower.
However, due to various injuries and a worldwide pandemic, Usyk’s title shot was protracted. Now, with wins against Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora, Usyk remains in the number one position to challenge for the WBO world title.
For the WBO, they were placed between a rock and a hard place. Ultimately, the sanctioning body decided to allow Joshua to hold on to his WBO title which now allows his unification showdown with Fury to have every single heavyweight championship on the line.
Not to be completely ignored, the sanctioning body has placated Usyk’s worries by allowing him to fight for its interim title against number two contender Joe Joyce. The winner of their matchup would then be assured a shot at the full title.
If either Joshua or Fury is stripped of the WBO title following their first matchup for refusing to face the winner of Usyk vs Joyce due to their immediate rematch, is of little importance. As long as the first contest between Joshua and Fury produces an undisputed world champion that’s all that matters. Even if it is short-lived.
“If they’re contracted to have two fights and the winner has got to fight the winner of Usyk vs Joyce, they’re just not going to do it. It’s fine because we get the undisputed first. All I want is the winner of this fight to be undisputed. What happens after that doesn’t matter, it’s just a rematch and another great fight. But this is what it’s all about, finding out who the best is.”