By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn says former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is now out of contract with Matchroom unless a fight between him and WBO champ Anthony Joshua takes place next.
The unbeaten Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) is the mandatory for Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) pushing for his mandated title shot next, but Hearn says that’s NOT going to happen.
If Usyk gives Hearn problems, Joshua will vacate the WBO belt, which will leave the Ukrainian fighter scrambling for it against Joe Joyce.
Hearn plans on going to the World Boxing Organization to let them know that he wants the fight between Joshua and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to be for the undisputed championship.
AJ will vacate the WBO belt if Usyk doesn’t step aside
If Hearn doesn’t get his way Joshua being allowed to swerve his commitment to Usyk, he’ll vacate his WBO title, as well as his IBF and WBA straps. But before that happens, Hearn will try and make Usyk happy to get him to agree to step aside.
Usyk won’t get a gold mine to step aside, and he won’t be getting a percentage of Joshua or Fury’s purse for him to step aside
Obviously, the risk of Joshua losing to Usyk is too high for Hearn to let that fight take place now. It’s bad enough that Joshua was beaten by Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019.
But if AJ loses a second fight against Usyk, it would make it more difficult for Hearn to sell the two Joshua vs. Fury fights on pay-per-view.
If Joshua had more talent, he could fight with Usyk, and there wouldn’t be any worries. But as we’ve seen in Joshua’s fights with Ruiz, Alexander Povetkin, Wladimir Klitschko, and Dillan Whyte, he’s someone that can potentially lose each time out.
Usyk doesn’t want to sit and wait for all of 2021 for his mandated title shot against Joshua, and you can’t blame him.
It would be fair to Usyk if the winner of the Joshua vs. Fury first fight were to face him in the late summer before they meet for their rematch. That’s not going to happen because there’s too much money on the line for the second Joshua vs. Fury fight.
Hearn will “TRY” to make Oleksandr Usyk happy
“Unless we deliver the AJ fight,” said Hearn to Boxing Social when asked if Usyk is out of contract with Matchroom Boxing.
“It’s a situation where some people, and this isn’t really a dig at his team or anything, but some people believe he should be getting millions, or dollars to step aside for this [Joshua vs. Fury] fight.
Really, what will happen is, we will apply to the WBO for the undisputed fight. If they say, ‘No, you have to talk to Oleksandr Usyk.’
“We will go to Oleksandr Usyk, and we will try and make him happy to try and make that fight go on.
“The problem is, who was it that stepped aside for an undisputed fight? It was Jack Catterall,” said Hearn.
“Don’t get me wrong, Jack Catterall got a few quid, and he got a fight. Do you really want to stop this fight from happening?
“You have to be respected because you’re in a mandatory position, but there is a solution. As I’ve said before, this fight between Fury and AJ will happen with all the belts or not one belt at all,” said Hearn.
It’ll be interesting to see if Hearn can come to a solution to get Usyk to step aside without Joshua needing to vacate his WBO strap.
The WBO could make Hearn’s life easier if they let Joshua bypass Usyk this time around, but that’s not likely to happen. Usyk has already been waiting for his title since 2018, and that’s three years.
It’s unclear what the record is for a mandatory challenger needing to wait for a title shot, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Usyk is nearing it.
Eddie: We won’t be held for ransom
“The problem is, when there’s a big fight like that, everyone [wants a piece of the pie] and the greed is unbelievable,” Hearn continued.
“It’s going to come down to the fighters, and the fighters are paying millions of dollars in sanction fees.
“I’ve heard someone say that Usyk wants a percentage of AJ and Fury’s purse to step aside. But there is a solution.
“If everyone is smart together, we can find a solution, and I really want it to be undisputed because that’s always been the dream for AJ, and we’re going to do everything we can.
“But we’re not going to be held to ransom by anyone, and if we lose one belt, we’ll probably vacate them all and say, ‘This is boxing now.’ But if everyone is sensible, we’ll be fair in return, hopefully, we can find a solution,” said Hearn.
From Usyk’s perspective, it doesn’t help him to sit for an entire year without getting his title shot. He’s not young at 33, and it’s going to make it more difficult for him to sit and wait until 2022 to fight for the WBO belt.
Usyk losing out on money by not being able to fight Joshua for the WBO title this year, and he could lose his mandatory status if he gets beaten. Each time Usyk fights in 2021, he’ll be risking his WBO mandatory spot.
Hearn is obviously focusing on his fighter Joshua and the business aspect of the millions that will be made from the Fury clash. It’s not a good deal for Usyk unless he’s paid the kind of money he would be getting if he were to challenge Joshua for the title.
Whatever Andy Ruiz Jr got for his title shot against Joshua the first time, it would be a reasonable amount for Usyk to be given to step aside. Basically, Usyk is being skipped over for the third straight time for a title shot. You have to factor that in as well.
Hearn expects Fury’s mediation will go his way
“I don’t believe so,” said Hearn when asked if Deontay Wilder vs. Fury mediation process will get in the way of the Joshua-Fury fight. “Bob Arum is very confident they [Team Wilder] has no position at all.
“It certainly won’t impact the first fight, and as you know, we’ve agreed to a two-fight deal and that’s paramount.
“I don’t see that being an issue, and obviously, that’s an issue for their [Team Fury] side, not ours.
“90 percent,” said Hearn upon being asked how certain he is that we’ll see the Joshua vs. Fury fight this year,” said Hearn.
If Hearn is going on what Fury’s promoter Bob Arum is telling him about the mediation process’s status, he might want to get a second opinion from someone else like Wilder’s team.
I’m sure Wilder’s management has a completely different view of how the mediation process is going now.
Hearn needs to have an open mind about the possibility of Fury being required to take on Wilder next if the mediation process goes sour for him.
There wouldn’t be a problem if Fury stuck to the contractual rematch with the former WBC heavyweight champion Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) instead of going in a different direction forwards the money fight against Joshua.
If Fury had set up the rematch with Wilder, there wouldn’t be a problem. Joshua is in a hurry as well by choosing not to face his WBO mandatory Usyk next.
Hopefully, this isn’t the kind of stuff we’ll be seeing from Joshua and Fury for the remainder of their careers.