Oleksandr Usyk hints he’ll step aside for Joshua vs. Fury

By Boxing News - 12/19/2020 - Comments

By Charles Brun: Oleksandr Usyk hints that he could step aside so that heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury can fight for the undisputed championship in 2021. Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) wants all of them to talk about making this happen.

In reading between the lines, Usyk, 33, might be willing to clear out of the way to let IBF/WBA/WBO champion Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) face WBC belt holder Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), but he’ll likely need to be paid a step aside fee.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn sounded unhappy this week in talking about Usyk potentially wanting step aside money, and he says there’s a chance that all the heavyweight titles will be jettisoned by Joshua and Fury so they can fight.

Usyk ready to talk

“All four belts might end up in the same hands of one person,” said Usyk to The Sun when asked if he would step aside for the Joshua vs. Fury fight.

“It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We should all talk and communicate for that to happen because it is a really big event.”

Image: Oleksandr Usyk hints he'll step aside for Joshua vs. Fury

We’ll have to see if Hearn and Joshua can make it worthwhile for Usyk to let the Joshua-Fury fight go ahead next year. The negative for Usyk is he’s going to lose a year of his career waiting.

Usyk will be 34-years-old by the time he can finally fight for the WBO belt in 2022, and there’s no telling whether the Joshua v. Fury winner will still have the title.

They might immediately vacate the WBO belt after they compete in their two fights in 2021, which won’t make Usyk happy. He wants to fight Joshua or Fury because he’ll make a lot of money against either of them.

If they make him wait until 2022 and then vacate the WBO without ever having fought him, it would be a lousy situation for Usyk.

That’s why it’s better for Usyk to insist he get his title shot now there than taking the chance of fighting for the vacant WBO belt in 2022 after losing a year of his career. If Usyk waits and winds up fighting for the vacated WBO strap, it would be a cruel joke.

All that time, waiting for what Usyk thought would lead to him facing Joshua or Fury could be for nothing.

Usyk recently beat popular British heavyweight Dereck Chisora by a 12 round unanimous decision on October 31st at the Wembley Arena in London, England. The fight was closer than many boxing fans expected.

Image: Oleksandr Usyk hints he'll step aside for Joshua vs. Fury

All titles could be vacated for Joshua vs. Fury

Hearn making it known that Joshua and Fury could vacate all of their titles for a fight between them in 2021, it’s a warning shot across the bow that the sanctioning bodies [read: WBO] and their mandatory challengers [Usyk] shouldn’t dare get in the way of this fight.

Basically, the commitment that Joshua has for him to defend against his WBO challenger Usyk will go out the window or else.

If Usyk insists on getting his mandated title shot, Hearn is hinting the WBO belt will be vacated. If that happens, Usyk will likely face #2 WBO Joe Joyce for the vacated title.

That would be a tough fight for Usyk, give his lack of size and power. Usyk beat Joyce many years ago in 2012 in winning a five-round decision in the World Series of Boxing, but that was when Joe weighed only 230 lbs and didn’t have the size, or the experience that he does now.

Image: Oleksandr Usyk hints he'll step aside for Joshua vs. Fury

From Usyk’s perspective, his mandated title defense is overdue for the WBO belt, and it doesn’t help him to sit and age for a year while he waits for Fury and Joshua to fight twice.

Usyk was supposed to fight for the WBO title in 2019, but he was passed up so that Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr could fight. The second time Usyk was bypassed was when Joshua fought Kubrat Pulev.

Where’s the gain for Usyk in sitting and waiting for Joshua vs. Fury to fight two times next year? Unless Hearn and Joshua are going to make it worthwhile for WBO mandatory challenger Usyk to sit on the sidelines and use up a year of his short career,

Usyk unsure why Joshua didn’t knockout Pulev sooner

“I personally thought the fight would end somewhere around round six or seven but they held out nine rounds,” said Usyk in talking about Joshua’s recent victory over Kubrat Pulev

“I think that if Anthony didn’t end the fight in round three – either he couldn’t or he just didn’t want to,” said Usyk.

If you ignore the blown call in the third round by the referee failing to stop the fight after Pulev turned his back against Joshua while getting battered, it looked like Joshua spent too much time boxing.

Joshua has been working on improving his defense since losing to Andy Ruiz Jr last year, and it appears that he put too much effort into boxing Pulev and that allowed him to stick around until the ninth.

Image: Oleksandr Usyk hints he'll step aside for Joshua vs. Fury

Also, Joshua looked like he was afraid to go all out for the knockout because Pulev was catching him with right hands on occasion, and he didn’t seem confident that he could take those shots.