By Alexey Sukachev
Ukraine’s Oleksander Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs), the only undisputed male world champion (meaning he holds all four major belts – WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF) at the moment, had a banner year in 2018, winning thrice at his opponents’ backyards, being named 2018 Fighter of the Year by all credible boxing pundits and outlets and putting his name in one line with Evander Holyfield as a duo of the greatest cruiserweight stars of all time.
Still, 2019 can present new challenges for the stellar Ukrainian – both in terms of fight in a heavier weight class and… finding opponents there.
Usyk is being positioned for a potential climb to the heavyweight division and there are numerous options at the top.
In 2018, Usyk signed a co-promotional agreement with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom. Hearn represents several top heavyweights – including Dillian Whyte, Jarrell Miller, Dereck Chisora – and IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
The lead promoter for Usyk is Alexander Krasyuk of K2 Ukraine.
“At the present moment, we are negotiating with no one. Usyk and his team are presently having a much needed rest. But I can already tell you that we are experiencing problems finding a suitable opponent”, said Krasyuk stated to the Ukrainian media.
“[Joseph] Parker and [Jarrell] Miller both refused to fight Alexander. Takam has called Dereck Chisora. [Dillian] Whyte will most probably fight [Anthony] Joshua in April. We have only Alexander Povetkin (34-2, 24 KOs) and Luis Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs) left amongst the top-notch heavyweights. We have a 70% chance that Oleksandr fights one of them in his first bout as a heavyweight.
“If those options fail, we can have a mandatory defense against Denis Lebedev (32-2, 23 KOs) in March. We’re planning to meet with Eddie Hearn at the end of the next week to talk more about our options”.