By Jake Donovan
Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight debut continues to be a work in progress.
The 2018 Fighter of the Year and unbeaten former World cruiserweight champion is due to return to the ring this fall after recovering from a torn biceps injury earlier this year. It killed plans for the Ukrainian southpaw to test the heavyweight waters this past May, where he was due to face veteran heavyweight contender Carlos Takam on May 25 in Oxon Hill, Md.
It was believed that the matchup would be resurrected for a planned Oct. 12 DAZN show to take place at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Ill., as reported by BoxingScene.com contributor Manouk Akopyan on Monday. However, Takam is no longer the frontrunner to land the slot, as the 38-year old Cameroon-born heavyweight recently signed a promotional contract with New York-based promotional outfit Star Boxing.
According to what is being said by the event promoter, there’s a chance Takam won’t land the fight at all.
"That fight’s not done yet. We were looking at it but he signed with Joe DeGuardia," promoter Eddie Hearn dismissively told IFL TV on Tuesday. “I’m not sure that fight is going to take place.”
Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) has not fought since an 8th round knockout win over Tony Bellew last November in Manchester, England. The bout capped a Fighter of the Year campaign where the 32-year old scored three road wins, twice in title unification bouts.
Included among the lot was his 12-round virtual shutout of previously unbeaten Murat Gassiev last July to win the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament and become the undisputed champ in the process. The win over Bellew marked the 6th defense of at least one cruiserweight title, and likely his last.
In moving up in weight, he exercised an option with the World Boxing Organization (WBO) where a “Super” champ moving up or down in weight can automatically claim the number one ranking and enforce a mandatory title fight. The move puts him directly in line to challenge for the heavyweight title (currently held by Andy Ruiz Jr., whom is reportedly locked in for a Dec. 7 rematch with former titlist Anthony Joshua), although he plans to take at least one optional fight before enforcing his position.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox