By Jake Donovan
Oleksandr Usyk’s long-awaited heavyweight debut will have to wait a little longer.
A torn biceps injury suffered by the reigning cruiserweight king and 2018 Fighter of the Year has disrupted plans for a scheduled clash with veteran contender Carlos Takam. The two were due to collide May 25 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
“Unfortunately, Usyk has suffered a bicep(s) injury and will no longer fight on May 25,” Egis Klimas, Usyk’s manager, confirmed on Tuesday. “A new date for his heavyweight debut will be announced shortly.”
Usyk’s foray into the heavyweight division was slated to serve as the centerpiece of a DAZN livestream on that date. Event handlers—including lead promoter Eddie Hearn—remain uncertain as to whether the show will still go on, although the hope is to keep the date and the balance of the undercard intact.
Fast-rising lightweight contender Devin Haney—whom recently signed a promotional contract with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA outfit—is currently slated to face Mexico’s Antonio Moran in his DAZN debut. The unbeaten Las Vegas native is on course to eventually challenge for a lightweight title, as he was recently named in a four-man boxoff as ordered by the World Boxing Council, where he is currently the number-three contender.
Also on the show—and from a weight perspective, a reasonable alternative on short notice—is heavyweight Michael Hunter.
The once-beaten contender—whose lone loss came versus Usyk in this very venue in April 2017—is currently without an opponent for his slated undercard appearance. His placement on the May 25 show remained intact after he was removed from the short list of candidates to replace Jarrell Miller versus unbeaten, unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua on June 1 in New York City.
Joshua will instead face Andy Ruiz on the date.
Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) is coming off of a 2018 campaign that saw him unify all of the major hardware in the cruiserweight division, thanks to back-to-back wins over previously unbeaten titlists Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev. Both fights came as part of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament, with Usyk claiming top honors following a near-shutout of Gassiev in the finals last July.
The Ukrainian southpaw followed up the feat with an encore knockout win over Tony Bellew later that November. The bout took place in London, England, his first fight there since winning a Gold medal for his native Ukraine in the 2012 London Olympics.
Following the win over Bellew, Usyk teased that the bout would likely be his last at cruiserweight. He’s yet to completely sever ties with the division, other than giving up his WBA title earlier this year in lieu of a mandatory title defense versus Denis Lebedev.
The writing on the wall suggests he will abandon cruiserweight altogether, as plans call for a possible showdown with Joshua later this year assuming both win their next fights. Their going back-to-back in late May and early June would have served as the perfect primer.
For now, getting Usyk 100% healthy remains the primary objective, with everything else—including his eventual heavyweight debut—currently to be determined.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox