Artur Beterbiev, the light heavyweight world champion of the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF), reveals that he was interested in a showdown with Oleksandr Usyk, when the Olympic gold medal winner was the unified WBA, WBO, IBF, WBC cruiserweight king.
Usyk had his last bout at cruiserweight in the fall of 2018, when he knocked out Tony Bellew.
He moved up to heavyweight division last year, stopping Chazz Witherspoon in October. Usyk, now the WBO's mandatory challenger at his new weight, is set to face Derek Chisora on a date to be determined.
The jump in weight, from light heavyweight to cruiserweight, is the biggest in boxing. It's a 25-pound leap and very few boxers have made the transition in recent years.
Beterbiev repeatedly faced Usyk at major tournaments in amateur boxing.
In the quarter-finals of the London Olympics, Beterbiev lost to Usyk by points.
Beterbiev was very interested in making things right, and went as far as requesting a fight with Usyk as a contractual detail, when the Russian boxer was negotiating a deal with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. Beterbiev ultimately signed a promotional deal with Top Rank.
“I had a purely sporting interest in being able to box with Usyk when he became the absolute champion [at cruiserweight],” Beterbiev said to Tass.
“I was in the process of negotiating a contract with both Top Rank and Matchroom Boxing. The proposals from each were almost the same. I told my managers, that if Eddie Hearn (head of Matchroom Boxing) guarantees me a fight in the cruiserweight division with Usyk, then I will sign a contract with them.
"They took their time, but there were no answers from them. Maybe they were not interested, but I had a purely competitive interest [to fight Usyk]. We [me and Usyk] have history."