By: Hans Themistode
Oleksandr Usyk’s train to a heavyweight world title is apparently about to make an unexpected stop. The former undisputed cruiserweight titlist has long been awaiting his chance at facing unified champion, Anthony Joshua.
With a win in his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon, Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) followed that up with another victory against fringe contender Dereck Chisora. While both wins may have allowed him to get acclimated to fights against bigger men, considering he became the WBO’s number one ranked contender the moment he moved up in weight, Usyk never needed to face anyone other than Joshua in his first official contest as a heavyweight.
Still, the former Olympic gold medalist appeared on track to challenge Joshua for his world title. However, both Joshua and WBC/Ring magazine belt holder Tyson Fury are on the verge of papering a two-fight deal, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. With the likelihood of Usyk waiting even longer for his shot at a world title, promoter Frank Warren is currently working on something that would placate the impatient big man.
“We’re working on, at the moment, Usyk and Joe Joyce,” said Warren during an interview with IFL TV. “I think the WBO will order that as an interim-title fight so we’re working hard to make that happen. The situation is that the WBO have said they’d like to do that fight as an eliminator. We have no objection to that and I don’t think Usyk has either. There’s been some preliminary talks and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Joyce, a 2016 Olympic Silver medalist, is currently riding the high associated with the biggest win of his pro career. On November 28th, just last year, Joyce handed highly-touted previously undefeated prospect Daniel Dubois the first defeat of his career via 10th round stoppage.
Despite the win, along with the success he’s obtained during his short career, Joyce (12-0, 11 KOs) still has an ax to grind with Usyk. In January of 2013, before either man turned professional, they faced off at the World Series of Boxing. On the night, Usyk dominated his man winning every single round.
Regardless of their previous outcome, Warren views Joyce as a completely different fighter. In addition to that, the long time promoter believes the British native has all of the momentum in the world.
“It’s a good fight and based on his last performance, Joe’s looking really good. It puts the winner in a tremendous position. The eventual winner of the two fights between Tyson and AJ will have to defend against Joyce or Usyk, or vacate the belt.”