Oleksandr Usyk is “waiting for the approval letter” from the WBO for a fight with Anthony Joshua that could now be their next outing, says his promoter.
Joshua was set to decide the heavyweight division’s undisputed champion with Tyson Fury on August 14 but, this week, a court ruled that WBC champion Fury must face Deontay Wilder by September 15.
Wilder’s trainer Malik Scott has denied they will accept ‘step aside money’ after Fury claimed he had asked for $20m to forego the court ruling.
That has led IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua to consider a “Plan B” which would be Usyk, his promoter Eddie Hearn said.
“The WBO is extremely happy as their mandatory challenger will be facing their heavyweight champion,” Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk told Sky Sports.
“What else can they desire? We are waiting for their approval letter!”
WBO president Paco Valcarcel said on Tuesday night: “I hope boxing fans will enjoy Joshua vs Usyk in the near future.”
The targeted date for Joshua vs Usyk is in August at “most likely a big open-air venue in the UK”, says Krassyuk.
The WBO had previously agreed to delay Usyk’s right to a mandatory opportunity at the belt because of the significance of Joshua vs Fury.
Usyk has been in negotiations to fight Joe Joyce for the WBO interim belt but a clash with Joshua, his fellow 2012 Olympic gold medallist, could now be fast-tracked.
“Usyk said that he was crossing the English Channel by the time he received my message, and asked which turn he should be making,” joked Krassyuk.
“He was happy to hear the news.”
Krassyuk had previously reacted to the court ruling Fury to face Wilder: “There is no other reasonable excuse for AJ now. If he is not avoiding Usyk, it is high time to face the mandatory!
“We are now in the position to make the fight happen as soon as possible.”
Fury lashes out at Wilder
“What a joke the Bronze Bomber has become,” said Fury who drew their first WBC title fight then won the rematch.
“Asked for $20m to move over, joker.
“Looks like I have to [fight him] again.”
But Wilder’s trainer Malik Scott hit back: “No. Wilder declined and had no interest in step aside money. You are dealing with a whole different type [of mentality] over here. He wants the blood not the step aside money.
“‘Retribution is upon us’.”
Fury posted a mocking list of Wilder’s “excuses” since they last fought: “Costume was too heavy, Fury’s gloves were loaded, I had weak legs, my water was spiked, Fury’s gloves had no padding, had bicep surgery, disloyal trainer, complications in camp, I broke my arm, fight stopped too early, Andre Dirrell’s fault.”
Can Joshua vs Fury be salvaged?
Promoter Eddie Hearn considered whether the undisputed title fight may be delayed until December, to first allow Fury to face Wilder and Joshua to meet Usyk.
Asked about the August 14 date in Saudi Arabia for Joshua vs Fury, Hearn said: “Am I hopeful? I don’t know.
“We were told the arbitration wouldn’t be a problem but obviously it is a problem.
“We have to think on our feet. We have to act accordingly. We still hope the fight can go ahead but it’s out of our hands.
“If [Fury’s] hands are tied [Joshua] will have to look elsewhere.”
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