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Oleksandr Usyk vs. Joseph Parker possible if WBO vacated

Image: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Joseph Parker possible if WBO vacated

By Kenneth Friedman: Joseph Parker could be the one facing Oleksandr Usyk next instead of Dereck Chisora if the WBO heavyweight title falls vacant in the coming months. The winner of this Saturday’s rematch between IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua may be forced to vacate the WBO belt due to a conflict of mandatory defenses due.

Parker’s manager David Higgins was at the WBO convention to try and make a case for him to be the one to face Usyk should the WBO title fall vacant.

Parker ranked higher than Chisora with WBO

If the World Boxing Organization title is vacated, #4 WBO Parker (26-2, 20 KOs) has a much higher ranking than #14 WBO Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs), and will have a better chance of facing Usyk for the belt. Chisora is a fringe contender with the WBO. Although Chisora is an excellent heavyweight, his ranking with the WBO is well below that of Parker.

Chisora’s manager David Haye is trying to setup a fight between him and Usyk (17-1, 13 KOs) quickly, but that may not happen if the WBO intervenes, and forces the Usyk-Parker fight.

Both the IBF and WBO mandatory defenses are due at the same time. If the two sanctioning bodies are unable to agree to which of the two goes first, then one of the two belts will be vacated.

It’s widely assumed that the WBO strap will be vacated, because it has the more difficult mandatory challenger in former unified cruiserweight champion Usyk. The IBF mandatory is 38-year-old Kubrat Pulev, who would likely be a far easier defense for the Joshua vs. Ruiz 2 winner.

Higgins wants Parker to face Usyk for WBO belt

“It’s possible that WBO title could vacate and if that title vacates, then Joseph Parker is possibly the next available ranked fighter and could challenge Usyk to fight off for the vacant title,” said Higgins to Sky Sports News. “If the cards fall the right way, we could potentially have Parker challenging again for a world title, as soon as next year perhaps.”

Former WBO heavyweight champion Parker lost to Joshua by a wide 12 round unanimous decision last year in March 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. Shockingly, Parker lost his next fight as well against Dillian Whyte by a 12 round unanimous decision in July of last year in London, England. Since that loss, Parker has won his last two fights in beating low level fighters Alexander Flores and Alex Leapai.

Higgins forsees the possibility of Parker facing Ruiz Jr. in a rematch in 2020, if everything works in his favor. That would mean the WBO allows Parker to face Usyk for the vacant belt, and then he beats him. There’s a lot of IFs involved though, as we don’t know yet if the WBO belt will be vacated by the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr . 2 winner.  But even if it is vacated, there’s no way of knowing yet if the WBO will order Usyk to face Parker for the belt.

Parker beat Ruiz in 2016

“If you recall, that’s how Joseph won the heavyweight title, fighting off against Ruiz. History might repeat,” said Higgins.

Parker beat Ruiz by a 12 round majority decision on December 10, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. The results of that fight were controversial though, as Ruiz Jr. fought well enough to deserve the decision. The match took place in Parker’s home country, and that put Ruiz in the position where needed to do more to win.

Ruiz would have an excellent shot at beating Parker in a rematch, as long as the fight is held on neutral ground. Going back to New Zealand would make it tough on Ruiz, and it’s doubtful he’d ever agree to that.

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