- Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce are in discussions for a WBO interim heavyweight title fight.
- Usyk is the WBO’s mandatory challenger while Joyce is the no. 2 ranked heavyweight by the WBO.
- The winner of this bout will likely get the first crack at whoever wins between Joshua and Fury.
The WBO’s top two heavyweight contenders- Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce are close to a deal that would see them dispute an interim heavyweight title.
Joe Joyce-Oleksandr Usyk close in on deal. That a ton more in a giant #boxing notebook! Check it out here and subscribe and it will go directly to your inbox as soon as it’s published: https://t.co/BhzdtGEbiq
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) January 26, 2021
According to Sam Jones, Joyce’s co-manager, they are currently working on the Usyk fight. In an interview with Fight Freaks Unite on Monday, Jones says it the fight that they want and he is confident that they will get it done.
Aside from becoming the WBO interim heavyweight champion, the winner of the bout will earn a shot at whoever wins between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
WBO Mandatory Challenger
Oleksandr Usyk has been named as the mandatory challenger for the winner of Anthony Joshua v Andy Ruiz Jr.
Full story ? https://t.co/MZ1tFNMcaQ pic.twitter.com/OH2hEqNNLG
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 24, 2019
Usyk is the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion who moved up to heavyweight in 2019. The 34-year old from Ukraine is a former amateur world champion and Olympic gold medalist. He turned pro in 2013 and became the undisputed cruiserweight champion in his 15th professional bout in 2018.
He is the first cruiserweight to hold all four major belts, first Ukraininan undisputed boxing champion, and the last four belt world champion since Terence Crawford in 2017. Usyk was the 2018 BWAA, Ring, and ESPN Fighter of the Year in 2018 and the 4th ranked Pound for Pound fighter by the Ring.
The 6-3 southpaw is undefeated in 18 fights with 13 knockouts He won his first world title in his 10th professional bout and by the time he moved up to the heavyweight division, he had defeated five current or former world champions. Usyk is 2-0 as a heavyweight and in his last bout, he defeated Derek Chisora to capture the WBO inter-continental heavyweight title.
WBO No.2 Heavyweight Contender
WHO SAW THIS ONE COMING?
?? Joe Joyce stops Daniel Dubois inside ten to claim the British, Commonwealth and European Heavyweight titles!
The Juggernaut is also up to number 2️⃣ in the @WorldBoxingOrg rankings ?
What a performance! #DuboisJoyce https://t.co/21rPpyxayT</p >— VAVEL Boxing (@vavelboxing) November 29, 2020
Joe Joyce is a former Olympic silver medalist and a bronze medal winner at the 2015 World Championships. The 35-year old from London, England captured the British, Commonwealth, and European Heavyweight title in November 2020 after opponent Daniel Dubois took a 10-count while down on one knee.
The victory also earned Joyce the WBO silver and WBO international heavyweight titles. At the same time, he was promoted to the number 2 ranking in the heavyweight division by the WBO.
Joyce is undefeated in 12 bouts with 11 knockouts. He owns notable wins over former WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne and former heavyweight title challengers Bryant Jennings and Alexander Ustinov.
Clearing the Way for Fury vs Joshua
An Usyk-Joyce match up would clear the way for Fury and Joshua to fight for the undisputed heavyweight title. pic.twitter.com/Ndmz9O8ihQ
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) January 20, 2021
Should the Usyk vs Joyce interim title fight get booked, it will clear the way for an undisputed title fight between WBC champion Tyson Fury and unified champion Anthony Joshua. As the WBO’s mandatory challenger, Usyk could have enforced his right to a mandatory title fight against Joshua and at first, it was believed he would insist.
However, Usyk may have agreed to step aside with the assurance that he (or the winner of the interim title fight) will get the first crack at the winner between Fury and Joshua. Late last year, he was already softening on his stance by saying that a Fury-Joshua showdown would be a massive fight that needs to happen before it’s too late.
According to online sportsbook Bet365, Fury is the current -188 betting favorite to beat Joshua who is currently listed at +137 . If the oddsmakers are correct with their odds, then Usyk could end up facing the Gypsy King who will have a massive six inch height and 7 inch reach advantage over Usyk.