By Barry Holbrook: Oleksandr Usyk could vacate his IBF heavyweight title if the sanctioning body insists that he defend against his mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic next rather than proceed to the lucrative undisputed clash against WBC champ Tyson Fury.
Gareth A. Davies says IBF/WBA/WBO champion Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) could ultimately “bin” the IBF strap if the International Boxing Federation looks to force the issue of making him defend against Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs).
Davies feels that the fans know who the #1 and #2 heavyweights in the division are with Fury and Usyk, so it won’t negatively impact their fight if the IBF title isn’t involved when they fight in February or March.
Still, if the sanctioning body is going to be an obstacle by insisting that Oleksandr defend against Hrgovic, the belt could be sacrificed.
There’s a lot of money for Usyk to make fighting Fury, and it’s important for his legacy for this match to go ahead, with or without the IBF title is a part of it.
“They’ve got their rules, and Usyk needs to make a defense. I think it’s 90 days,” said Gareth A. Davies to iFL TV about the IBF ordering heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk to defend against his mandatory Filip Hrgovic.
“I’m not sure if I’d bin it. I’d negotiate with them [IBF] and say, ‘Look, this fights being made to come out of an extension,’ but if there’s no movement from the IBF, yeah, I think he bins it and fights Fury because it’s a massive fight for him,” said Davies when asked if Usyk will vacate his IBF title if the sanctioning body insists that he faces Hrgovic next.
“It’s a legacy-defining fight for him, and should he beat Fury and he’s not the favorite, of course, it’s a massive, massive moment for him. He gains legendary status by doing that.
“I can’t imagine that Usyk wants to fight Filip Hrgovic rather than Tyson Fury. It’s a huge money fight. The Middle East is interested, or they were a few weeks ago. We know that it’s scheduled for late February or early March, and that’s what they’re talking about.
“We have to see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks. Of course, the undisputed would trump the mandatory anyway. If they come out and say ‘the fights signed,’ if both camps come out ‘No, no, we’re signed’ we’re going to end up trumping the mandatory.
“It might be, but people have dropped belts before to go ahead to have a fight. As I said, the IBF title on the line would be great, but it doesn’t need to be on the line because we all know it’s for the undisputed title or the lineal title.
“I think the IBF is missing out by pushing this. A lot of us thought that Filip Hrgovic lost to the big Chinese fighter [Zhilei Zhang] that night [on the Anthony Joshua vs. Usyk II undercard on August 20th].
“I think Filip Hrgovic and Usyk is an interesting fight. I think Usyk wins that as well.
“He only had it for 16 days after,” said Davies about Fury only having the IBF title for 16 days after beating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
“So they’re pushing through with that. No surprise that Kalle Sauerland and Eddie Hearn are jumping on that, getting in the way of that because they don’t make any money out of a Fury vs. Usyk fighting.
“No surprise that they’re jumping in on the camp and trying to rattle the cage. The bottom line is if Usyk doesn’t want to fight Hrgovic and would rather fight Fury, we know who the #1 and #2 in the world are, and it’s Fury and Usyk right now.
“So they just get the fight on, even if they don’t have the IBF belt. If they don’t have any belts, it doesn’t actually matter. Let’s get that fight on, and we know who the #1 is.
“The belts are in the way of this in some ways, the fights signed, and it may not be until December the 3rd or after December the 3rd,” said Davies.