By Luke Furman
Russian cruiserweight contender Denis Lebedev said he intends to end his professional career after a potential fight with Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk.
As Lededev’s manager Vadim Kornilov said earlier, the World Boxing Association (WBA) has ruled that Usyk, the undisputed world champion in the cruiserweight division, and Lebedev, must fight by March 10, 2019.
Usyk has had a banner year in 2018 - with wins over Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew. He unified the WBC, WBO, IBF and WBA world titles. And he won the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.
Lebedev (32-2, 23 KOs), a former WBA, IBF cruiserweight world champion, is almost 40-years-old and nearing the end of his career.
He wants to fight Usyk in what he says will be the final bout of his pro career. Lebedev has won three fights in a row since losing a twelve round split decision to Gassiev in December 2016.
According to Lebedev, their teams have started negotiations.
“Our teams have started negotiations. I don’t know how feasible this fight is, but those are the plans. Today, Oleksandr Usyk is number one in boxing and that's 100%. That makes it more interesting for me to try to beat him. Every boxer's dream is to fight the strongest. What soldier doesn’t dream of one day becoming a general. I’ll go out with the desire to win - definitely. We should have a beautiful fight, because Oleksandr Usyk’s style and my style are an interesting combination,” Lebedev said to the “Subscriber Available” program on the Latvian internet channel Mix TV.
“I promise everyone now, I’m doing it on your air, that if the fight with Alexander Usik is held, it will be the last fight in my career. ashamed, "he added.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.