The river of call-outs have begun for Oleksandr Usyk
In the sport of boxing, winners are barely given a moment’s rest before they are bombarded with questions of “who’s next?” Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this is exactly what Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KO’s) is undergoing. In his latest outing the Ukrainian masterfully outmaneuvered, roughed-up and toppled former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. With the win, Usyk took possession of his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight titles. Now that he is officially the man to beat at heavyweight, the call-outs are beginning to come pouring in.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
One of the first to take to their social media to voice a desire for a future bout was Michael “The Bounty” Hunter (20-1-1, 14 KO’s). The two actually faced one another in the ring back on April 8, 2017 during Usyk’s tenure at cruiserweight. In that prizefight, the Ukrainian fighter claimed a unanimous decision win to serve Hunter his first and only professional loss.
Since that setback, the Bounty has amassed eight victories, six of which came by knockout, and one draw against Alexander Povetkin. Presumably even better for Hunter, he has competed as a heavyweight in every bout since his 2017 dustup with Usyk. With this being the case, he is theoretically the much more seasoned heavyweight.
Naturally, Michael Hunter would say that he has improved exponentially since their first encounter. Buoyed by this belief, the Bounty will view himself as a serious threat to the new Ukrainian champion. Yet he is unlikely to get a shot at Usyk, at least next.
First there is Anthony Joshua, who has an immediate rematch clause that he could choose to enact. If that is the case, then everyone in the division will have to wait. If AJ opts not to invoke the rematch clause, there is an excellent chance that Joe “The Juggernaut” Joyce (13-0, 12 KO’s) will be the next opponent for Usyk.
MANDO CHALLENGER ROLE REVERSAL
Before Usyk versus Joshua was officially signed, there was a hope that Joshua could fight WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. If that bout would have been made, it would have stood as the first all-UK heavyweight showdown to crown an undisputed champion. Yet, Deontay Wilder would win an arbitration case for a trilogy fight with Fury. This all effectively removed Fury from the equation.
Before the Fury versus Joshua fight was officially assassinated however, AJ’s WBO mandatory challenger, Oleksandr Usyk, was looking to stage a duel with Joe Joyce. The dustup was extremely close to happening when the all-UK super-fight burned to ash. With Joshua suddenly without any opposition, Team Usyk wasted no time in pursuing their right to face that champion. The rest is now history.
Now that the Ukrainian has come through this bout essentially unscathed and armed with new titles, Joyce wants his shot. Unwilling to sit idly by as Usyk went on to do battle with AJ, Joyce would pen a fight with veteran Carlos Takam. Ahead of the Joyce versus Takam fight, the WBO announced that the winner would become the mandatory challenger for their title. This means that Joyce, like Usyk once was, is now one of Usyk’s official WBO mandatory challengers. Shortly after the Ukrainian put on his impressive show against Joshua, Joyce jumped on his social media to let it be known he wanted his rematch and shot at the new champion. It will be fun to watch how this all unfolds in the coming weeks and months.
By: Bakari Simpson