The heavyweight division is in a bit of a hold as the well-documented failed negotiations between unified champion Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) and WBC champ Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) absorbed a good part of the year’s first quarter. Recently, discussions of a fantasy type of card turned social media upside down as the rumors were that Fury would face Usyk in December while Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) fight Anthony Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) on the same card in an event that would take place in the UAE. That all sounded too good to be true, but Eddie Hearn added fuel to the fire and said that it was real and they were working on making it a reality.
"WE EXPECT THAT OFFER TO BE INCOMING"— IFL TV (@IFLTV) May 11, 2023
🗣 @EddieHearn provides us with an update on discussions for Saudi Arabia to host Fury vs Usyk & AJ vs Wilder.
Watch the full interview HERE ➡️ https://t.co/MrIazS9jiY#FuryUsyk | #JoshuaWilder | #BoxingNews pic.twitter.com/Xq83xpExmX
That is December, but we are in May, so what will happen in the coming months? Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk recently told Sky Sports, “We are now concentrated on (Daniel) Dubois as the next step.” While adding later in the conversation that “Everything else is possible after Usyk wins.” The pursuit of Daniel Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs) makes sense as he is the mandatory challenger, although people would argue that Zhilei Zhang (25-1-1, 20 KOs) should be the recipient of such an opportunity through the WBO as he just beat the interim champion Joe Joyce (15-1, 14 KOs).
OLEKSANDR USYK HAS OPTIONS, BUT WHO ARE THEY?
Usyk has some options here if the Dubois fight doesn’t happen. Zhang is out there and staying in shape if he gets that call which would be an excellent fight. Although Joyce exercised his rematch clause, that could be a way to earn some step-aside money. Don’t count out Andy Ruiz Jr. (35-2, 22 KOs) either, as a source close to the former champion told ProBoxTV News that they would contact Egis Klimas (Usyk’s manager) about the possibility of that fight happening next. I don’t see Usyk taking on any contenders that aren’t the names listed, as he is 36 and more than likely wants to cash in on the biggest opportunities possible. If it’s the Dubois fight, I don’t see anyone batting an eye over it, and it will be just as entertaining as any of the other potential matchups.
The one thing I have to question about a potential two-fight year for Usyk is that he hadn’t had one since 2018 when he fought three times that year. Since then, it’s been once a year for the unified champ, which doesn’t give high hopes that he doubles the number of fights he had in recent years. No one will complain if he does fight twice, and if it can be against a Dubois, Ruiz Jr., or Zhang while finishing with Fury, that would be a Fighter of the Year type of run if he can come out victorious and the undisputed heavyweight champion.
So who will Usyk fight next? Will it be Dubois, the tough interim champ Zhang or the former unified champion Ruiz Jr? Hopefully, it will be decided sooner than later, as August will be a year since Usyk earned a split decision over Joshua.