Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk clash ordered by WBO, agreement to be reached within 10 days
What a difference a week makes.
Last Saturday the vast majority of the boxing world were on tenterhooks awaiting the official announcement for the undisputed heavyweight championship showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Then came the Deontay Wilder curve ball.
The former WBC heavyweight titleholder won a civil arbitration case over Fury and is now legally entitled to a third fight against an opponent who many feel has beaten him twice. Wilder was deemed lucky to retain his title on a split decision draw in December 2018, and he was knocked down twice and stopped in the seventh round of a February 2020 rematch.
Regardless, that’s Fury’s summer dance card arranged, but what of Joshua?
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk was installed as the WBO’s No. 1 heavyweight contender when the unbeaten Ukrainian made the decision to enter the glamour division in 2019. He has waited patiently to face Joshua, and even provisionally agreed to take on Britain’s Joe Joyce in an interim title bout.
However, now that the Fury-Joshua bout has capitulated, Usyk is out of patience and so are the WBO. The governing body gave promoter Eddie Hearn a 48-hour show cause notice to highlight the current status of a Fury-Joshua bout. Hearn requested an extension but to no avail.
“The extension request is hereby denied,” stated the WBO in a letter obtained by boxingscene.com on Saturday.
“In light of the foregoing, the parties are hereby granted 10 days upon issuance of this notice to negotiate and reach an agreement for the WBO Heavyweight Mandatory Championship Contest between Joshua/Usyk, or a purse bid ceremony will be called immediately per WBO Rules and Regulations of World Championship Contests.”
Joshua, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring behind champion Fury, also holds IBF and WBA titles.
Usyk is coming off a 12-round unanimous decision win over durable British pressure-fighter Derek Chisora.
Tom Gray is Managing Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing