Ring Exclusive: Oleksandr Usyk Wants Wilder-Helenius winner in 2023
LAS VEGAS — The barking dog in the background was a welcome relief to Oleksandr Usyk from the sirens that had been blaring recently in his hometown of Vorzel, Ukraine.
Usyk, The RING, IBF, WBA, WBO world heavyweight champion, has been watching the recent traffic of the heavyweight division with a grin. Through manager Egis Klimas, three-time BWAA Manager of the Year, Usyk (20-0, 13 knockouts) spoke exclusively with The Ring on Wednesday afternoon about his future, the recently made Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua fight for the WBC title and who could possibly be his next opponent.
When asked how much his life has changed since beating Joshua a second time on August 20, by split-decision, Usyk said, “I’m happy, I’m at home, but there’s been only one change, I beat Joshua a second time. Everything else is the same.
“I don’t have many feelings about (Fury and Joshua fighting). I don’t really care if Fury wants to fight somebody. My team is working on getting me back in the ring.
“And no, no, I’m not pissed off at all (about being bypassed by Fury for Joshua). The bigger problem is Tyson Fury is not letting fans see one of the best historical bouts in boxing history. That’s his fault. Not mine. So, I’m not pissed off at all. Tyson Fury can fight whoever he wants to fight.
“From the standpoint of sportsmanship, of course it’s not correct (that Fury fight Joshua instead of him).”
When asked who he would like to fight next, Usyk answered in English, “Deontay Wilder.”
Usyk went on to say, “Wilder is a dangerous fighter, and that fight would most likely be in the United States.”
Usyk said he will most likely be ringside when Wilder, the former WBC titlist, takes on Robert Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs) on October 15, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
A Usyk clash with Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) would be a great contrast in styles, between the scientific Ukrainian southpaw with the magical hands opposed to Wilder’s heavy hands.
Usyk is The Ring’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and was The Ring and BWAA’s 2018 Fighter of the Year. Yet, he eschews accolades. Point him in a direction, wind him up and he’s ready to go to war.
“I have people around me who respect me, and we talk about that, and I really don’t care about anyone else’s opinion,” Usyk said. “I care what my people think. I have my country that I love and it’s why I wanted to come back home (after the Joshua fight). I’m sitting in my backyard right now and the country is at war. You hear sirens. You learn how to survive all of this.
“That’s the most important message. I feel personally how the rest of the world feels about us. If I wasn’t boxing, I would be an actor. I’d be a very good actor.”
Klimas noted that if Joshua beat Fury, there would be a rematch, which would push back any possibility of Fury ever facing Usyk in 2023. Klimas also said Team Usyk will not be “chasing Tyson Fury.” Usyk will return in early 2023 against the Wilder-Helenius winner.
“Usyk is the heavyweight world champion and look how many statements Fury has made these last few months, he’s retiring, he’s not retiring, he’s fighting Usyk, he’s not Usyk, and now he’s fighting Joshua, you really don’t know what Fury is going to do next,” Klimas explained. “If you look in his past at everything that happened, Fury always caused a problem when it came to getting an undisputed world champion. He’s unpredictable.
“What happens when Joshua beats his ass? What will happen next? They will go to a rematch, which will push back the chance to have an undisputed world champion. I think Fury is most likely afraid of Usyk. Why does he run away from Usyk? Why? Because Fury sees danger in Usyk.
“Usyk wanted to fight Fury by the end of the year. You know what, we’re not running after him. We have three belts. He has one belt. Who cares? It’s a situation Fury created. Not Usyk. Usyk would fight Tyson Fury in his backyard. Usyk would fight anyone in their backyard.
“It was very important for Usyk to return to the Ukraine and to his people.”
Usyk plans an October tour of the United States. One stop will be in Brooklyn for the Wilder-Helenius fight. Then, Usyk will be going to Los Angeles for a dinner on October 20 to kick off the Oleksandr Usyk Foundation.
For now, the world heavyweight champion is resting and will be watching Canelo Alvarez battle Gennadiy Golovkin this Saturday (“Somehow I think it’s going to be Canelo Alvarez,” he predicts).
“Usyk would like to fight Wilder, but whoever wins that fight would be next for Usyk,” Klimas said. “Usyk is not like Fury. He’s looking for the winners not looking for the losers.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito [twitter.com].