Anthony Joshua’s camp have asked Oleksandr Usyk to delay his mandatory challenge in order to keep the proposed fight with Tyson Fury as the chance to unify the whole division.
Joshua holds the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts, while Fury is the current WBC and Ring Magazine champion. Joshua successfully defended his titles against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev in December, but the WBO have made it clear they expect Usyk to get his shot before Joshua and Fury meet.
Previously both Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn have suggested that he may vacate the WBO belt in order to make the Fury fight, with the champion claiming he would then return to whomever held the WBO to become undisputed champion.
However Usyk is the mandatory WBO challenger and has been for over a year, and he too is keen on his own title fight after delays were granted to Joshua by the body to rematch Andy Ruiz Jr. and then defend against Pulev.
It had been mooted that Usyk may however be prepared to wait a little longer if he were guaranteed to fight the winner of the Fury vs Joshua fight, in order to secure his own shot at becoming undisputed champion. There is also a likelihood that the Ukrainian would need to be compensated financially for waiting a little longer.
Joshua explained: “I think Usyk will be keen to step aside and let the fight happen.
“We’ve reached out to his management team. He’s a reasonable person and he’ll understand the magnitude of this situation.”
Usyk last fought in November 2020, when he defeated Dereck Chisora to retain his mandatory designation.
If Usyk's team does indeed insist on their title fight and force the WBO to strip Joshua, unbeaten Brit Joe Joyce — who put the first blemish on Daniel Dubois' record in November — is the leading candidate to battle Usyk for the vacated belt. Also in the running would be the winner of Junior Fa vs. former WBO champ Joseph Parker on Feb. 27.