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Joshua vs. Ruiz winner will VACATE a title says Eddie Hearn

Aleksandr Usyk Anthony Joshua

By Tim Royner:  The winner of the December 7th rematch between IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua could vacate one of the titles, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. He says that the IBF and WBO mandatory are both due next at the same time. One of those two titles will be vacated.

It’ll be up to the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz rematch to decide which belt to vacate. Kubrat Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs) is the International Boxing Federation mandatory challenger, and the WBO mandatory is former unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs).  Hearn co-promotes the 32-year-old Usyk, who recently made his heavyweight debut in beating Chazz Witherspoon last Saturday night on DAZN.

Joshua-Ruiz winner will vacate one of the titles

“It looks like Povetkin-Hunter for that fight,” said Hearn to Sporting Icons about the undercard for Joshua-Ruiz 2 on December 7. “It is,” said Hearn when asked if the WBO mandatory is next for the Joshua vs. Ruiz winner. “So is the IBF. The IBF is also next, and so is the WBO. I think a belt will be vacated. Basically I think both fights [IBF & WBO mandatory] will be due,” said Hearn.

The 38-year-old Pulev might be the easier mandatory for the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. rematch to deal with. Pulev won’t use a lot of movement, and angles in a fight against the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz rematch. Further, Pulev is older than the 32-year-old Usyk, and there to be hit.

Hearn would obviously prefer that Joshua or Ruiz fight Usyk, given that he promotes the 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine. It’s a win-win situation for Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing promotion if the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz rematch fights Usyk. It allows Hearn to ensure that one of his fighters gets a payday.

Hearn told by Usyk he wants world heavyweight championship next

“The instructions to me are: ‘world heavyweight championship next’,” said Hearn to in talking about what Usyk is expecting for his next fight. “It wouldn’t hurt to have one more. But they say: ‘we have won every belt at cruiserweight, we have had our heavyweight warm-up, we are ready’ My message is straight to the world title.”

If the WBO belt is vacated by the winner of the Joshua-Ruiz 2 rematch, then Usyk will likely be installed as the new World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion. It’s doubtful that the WBO would order Usyk to fight the next highest ranked available contender for the vacated title.

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