Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (16-0) is expected to be installed as the mandatory challenger for the WBO world heavyweight title, currently in possession of Anthony Joshua (22-0).
Alex Krassyuk of K2 Promotions has made it clear that Usyk will be targeting the unified heavyweight champion providing he gets through his heavyweight debut against former Joshua opponent Carlos Takam on May 25 at the MGM National Harbor, Maryland., live on Sky Sports.
“The fact that Usyk will become a mandatory challenger is not PR,” Krassyuk explained to Video Boxing. “These are the WBO rules, which were confirmed by the organisation’s president Francisco Valcarcel; four days ago I spoke with him.”
“If Usyk wins, he officially leaves the WBO [cruiserweight] title. Usyk gains the position of official heavyweight challenger.
“Who is the champion? Joshua. So, Usyk is the mandatory claimant to fight with Joshua.”
The 32-year-old Ukrainian southpaw was the breakout star of the inaugural Wold Boxing Super Series tournament, entering as the WBO champion and adding the WBC, WBA and IBF belts to his collection by the end of the competition, becoming the first boxer in history to hold all four major world championships at cruiserweight.
The record-breaking Ukrainian is the most recent male boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles since Terence Crawford in 2017, and is one of only five boxers in history to do so after Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, and Cecilia Brækhus. Usyk won the undisputed championship in his 15th professional fight, which is an all-time boxing record and is the first undisputed champion to ever come from Ukraine.
This achievement earnt him the distinction of being designated the WBO ‘super champion’ at 200-pounds and the attendant rights that come with it. One of those privileges is that the WBO will install a ‘super champion’ as the mandatory contender is they decide to change weight classes.
“From the moment when Usyk becomes the official challenger, the fight with Joshua is irreversible, inevitable,” continued Krassyuk.
“Will there be interim fights? Possibly. But all this is built in the form of a pyramid, on top of which will be a cherry – Usyk vs Joshua.”
As an amateur, he won gold medals at the 2011 World Championships and London 2012 Olympics, both in the heavyweight division. Joshua was a medallist at both of those same tournaments also, taking silver in the World's and gold in the Olympics, both in the super-heavyweight division.
If this pair ever do meet, bearing in mind that WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, former Lineal champion Tyson Fury, and bitter rival Dillian Whyte are all waiting in the wings, it will possibly be the biggest heavyweight fight of this millennium.