The WBO have announced that Oleksandr Usyk has been installed as the mandatory challenger for the winner of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight-title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.
Usyk has been mandated over Dillian Whyte, with the WBO pointing to the Ukrainian’s “exceptional amateur career” and “unblemished professional record” (16-0), which saw him become undisputed champion at cruiserweight and the rightful winner of the World Boxing Super Series.
Ruiz shocked the world against Joshua earlier this month to rip away his WBO, IBF and WBA belts with a 7th round stoppage over the Brit, and the pair are set to go at it again later on in the year.
The WBO said in its official ruling: “The foregoing accomplishments of Mr Usyk awarded him WBO Super Champion status recognition whereby he’s entitled to certain rights and privileges, including mandatory challenger designation in an immediate higher or lower weight division.”
Usyk unified all four belts in the cruiserweight division by defeating Murat Gassiev for the Muhammad Ali trophy in July 2018 and went on to defend them against Tony Bellew in a stunning knockout victory just four months later in Manchester.
However, the 32-year-old Ukrainian has not been active in the ring since suffering an arm injury and was forced to pull out of his scheduled heavyweight debut against Carlos Takam in May.
Whyte (25-1) has won nine consecutive fights on the spin since losing to Joshua in 2015, but his commitment to taking on Oscar Rivas at the 02 in July was held against him in the ruling, as he was deemed “unavailable” to fulfil the mandatory position.
Although the WBO decision is ‘final’, the 31-year-old from Brixton has 14 days to appeal the ruling.
By Kenny Leavett.