Oleksandr Usyk made his intentions clear for his latest promotional move.
The unbeaten Ukrainian southpaw is determined to become a two-division undisputed champion. His team decided the best way to get there is to directly sign with Skill Challenge Promotions, who was already planning to stage a major heavyweight event later this year in Saudi Arabia. The main event of such a show would see Usyk put his WBA, IBF and WBO titles on the line versus lineal/WBC champ Tyson Fury, though the fight has yet to cross the line.
The hope is that Saturday’s official signing helps further that cause.
“Through the grace of God and with the help of Prince Khalid [bin AbdulAziz, chairman of Skill Challenge Entertainment] and our entire team we are going to make that fight,” Usyk said during a press conference to formally announce the promotional signing Saturday in Saudi Arabia. “Tyson Fury doesn’t want this fight, but we will make it.”
Usyk (20-0, 13KOs) first has to satisfy his WBA mandatory title defense versus ‘Regular’ titlist Daniel Dubois (19-1, 18KOs). Their title consolidation bout will take place August 26 in Wroclaw, Poland. Ukraine’s Usyk will attempt the second defense of his unified title reign which began with a September 2021 unanimous decision victory over Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22KOs).
Skill Challenge was responsible for presenting the Usyk-Joshua rematch, as co-promoter of the event along with Matchroom Boxing and K2 Promotions-Ukraine last August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Usyk won via split decision, though in a fight where everyone agreed he comfortably won.
The well-credentialed and unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant then set his sights on becoming undisputed champion. Usyk was ringside as Fury (33-0-1, 24KOs) scored his third win over Dereck Chisora in as many fights last December 3 in North London. The two unbeaten heavyweights then met on the ring apron—though separated by the ropes—to begin the buzz for a hoped-for showdown to fully unify the division.
There was the tease of an April fight, although the hourglass quickly ran out of sand as the two were forced to move on from those plans. Usyk was then summoned by the WBA to next face Dubois, while Fury remains without a confirmed opponent or fight date for a planned summertime title defense.
Amer Abdallah, CEO of Skill Challenge, previously confirmed hard plans to stage two heavyweight superfights on the same December show in Saudi Arabia—Fury-Usyk for the undisputed crown and Joshua versus Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs) in a clash of former titlists and still relevant top contenders. The prior round of talks for Fury-Usyk left off with Fury reportedly receiving the favorable end of a 70-30 split.
Usyk likely increased his bargaining power by aligning himself with the outfit who will fund such an event but nevertheless remains committed to turning a dream fight into a reality.
“It’s a great honor and great opportunity to bring to the fans the biggest fight in heavyweight boxing history,” insisted Usyk. “This is the one fight that everyone on the planet wants.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox