Promoter Eddie Hearn is of the belief that Oleksandr Usyk “should become” automatic WBO mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua if the Ukrainian moves up to heavyweight.
Britain’s unified champion next fight is still unclear, with Dillian Whyte or Jarrell Miller in the wings for a fight date in April or May, but Usyk could force his way into contention against Joshua for a fight towards the end of 2019.
The undisputed cruiserweight champion could be immediately installed as the next challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt, despite Whyte being ranked as the number one fighter in their current rankings.
Whyte remains in negotiations over challenging Joshua for the WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO belts at the national stadium on April 13, but Hearn warned the 30-year-old South Londoner could slip out of contention if both fighters can not reach terms for a Wembley fight.
Hearn has been quoted as saying: “Under the WBO rules, Usyk, once he steps up – if he steps up – should become that automatic mandatory. I was with the WBO last week in Puerto Rico.
“Dillian is No 1. That won’t be called for another month or so, and it’s not due until September, October, but Dillian is in the running to be that mandatory, but if you turn down a shot at the world heavyweight title, these don’t come around very often.
“I want to make sure that deal is good enough for him to accept, but I also want him to take it, because this is it. This is the world heavyweight championship.
“You’ve got a chance to fight for it, in your own country, to become the king of the division.”
Usyk has signed a promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing boss Hearn, who revealed that a fight date is booked for the undefeated Ukrainian, although he is yet to confirm whether or not it will be a debut in the heavyweight ranks for the 32-year-old.
Terence Crawford found himself in the same situation when becoming the mandatory challenger for the WBO welterweight belt after he relinquished all four of his super-lightweight titles to move up in weight from 140 to 147lbs.
By Kenny Leavett.