Oleksandr Usyk (16-0) has been named as the WBO mandatory challenger, so could face the winner of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua’s camp are in talks with Ruiz for a rematch after his surprise defeat at Madison Square Garden on June 1, which saw the unheralded Mexican-American inflict a shock seventh-round TKO victory after knocking the former champion down four times.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, is confident that the Watford-born boxer will avenge the first defeat of his career when the pair meet again – set to be in New York once more in November/December time. Others are not so sure, however, claiming that the Mexican is a better boxer than the Brit.
The WBO issued this statement: The present ruling is issued upon a petition filed on Monday, June 3rd 2019, by Mr. John Hornewer,Esq., on behalf of former Undisputed WBO, WBA, WBC & IBF Jr. Heavyweight Champion of the World Mr. Oleksandr Usyk, and Team Usyk, whereby official designation as Mandatory Challenger in the WBO World Heavyweight Division is requested.
Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing signed Ukrainian Usyk when he beat former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew and stepped up to the heavyweight division, though he is yet to make his debut at the weight due to injury.
However, the WBO has installed the 32-year-old Ukrainian as its mandatory challenger, meaning a potential showdown between Joshua and Usyk could be on the cards in early 2020, providing he regains his titles.
Usyk would prove a dangerous opponent for either Joshua or Ruiz, having left the cruiserweight division as the undisputed champion.
At the time of his last victory over Bellew, Usyk was rated among the pound-for-pound very best, though it remains to be seen how he would cope with the step up in weight division given that he has not boxed since last November, having been forced to withdraw from his planned debut against Carlos Takam in May.
Joshua triggered the rematch clause in the original contract with the pair expected to meet again in New York towards the end of the year.