Deontay Wilder, Joe Joyce, and the crop of other top heavyweight contenders eager to put their hands on southpaw ace Oleksandr Usyk may have to wait longer than they would like before they get their chance, if the Ukrainian champion’s handler has anything to say about the matter.
According to Egis Klimas, the veteran manager of WBA, WBO, and IBF unified heavyweight titlist Usyk, the plan is still to match his charge against WBC titlist Tyson Fury for a full unification showdown. Klimas, who also handles three-division Ukrainian champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, shot down any other possibilities for Usyk in the immediate future.
“We’re interested only in unification at this point, to unify with Fury,” Klimas told ESNews.
Immediately after Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) defeated Anthony Joshua in August in their rematch in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, he called out Fury to an undisputed fight, suggesting, furthermore, that he would consider retiring if he could not get that fight next. However, efforts to make the fight were unsuccessful because while Fury wanted to fight by the end of the year, Usyk insisted he would not be ready to fight again until next year. Fury, then, tried to pursue a fight with Joshua to fight in Cardiff, Wales, on Dec. 3, but those talks recently reached a dead end.
With Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) looking to other opponents, Usyk, in the meantime, has expressed interest in fighting the likes of Alabama’s Wilder and England’s Joyce, a sentiment reciprocated by both fighters.
Joyce, who lost to Usyk in the amateurs, is now the top challenger for Usyk’s WBO belt. Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) is coming off a career best win over Joseph Parker last month. Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs) is set to return to the ring for the first time since his TKO loss to Fury a year ago against Robert Helenius on Oct. 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.