Oleksandr Usyk, Joe Joyce Close to WBO Interim Title Fight Deal

Joe Joyce Oleksandr Usyk

    • Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce are in discussions for a WBO interim heavyweight title fight.
    • Usyk is the WBO’s mandatory challenger while Joyce is the no. 2 ranked heavyweight by the WBO.
    • The winner of this bout will likely get the first crack at whoever wins between Joshua and Fury.

The WBO’s top two heavyweight contenders- Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce are close to a deal that would see them dispute an interim heavyweight title.

According to Sam Jones, Joyce’s co-manager, they are currently working on the Usyk fight. In an interview with Fight Freaks Unite on Monday, Jones says it the fight that they want and he is confident that they will get it done.

Aside from becoming the WBO interim heavyweight champion, the winner of the bout will earn a shot at whoever wins between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

WBO Mandatory Challenger

Usyk is the former undisputed cruiserweight world champion who moved up to heavyweight in 2019. The 34-year old from Ukraine is a former amateur world champion and Olympic gold medalist. He turned pro in 2013 and became the undisputed cruiserweight champion in his 15th professional bout in 2018.

He is the first cruiserweight to hold all four major belts, first Ukraininan undisputed boxing champion, and the last four belt world champion since Terence Crawford in 2017. Usyk was the 2018 BWAA, Ring, and ESPN Fighter of the Year in 2018 and the 4th ranked Pound for Pound fighter by the Ring.

The 6-3 southpaw is undefeated in 18 fights with 13 knockouts He won his first world title in his 10th professional bout and by the time he moved up to the heavyweight division, he had defeated five current or former world champions. Usyk is 2-0 as a heavyweight and in his last bout, he defeated Derek Chisora to capture the WBO inter-continental heavyweight title.

WBO No.2 Heavyweight Contender

Joe Joyce is a former Olympic silver medalist and a bronze medal winner at the 2015 World Championships. The 35-year old from London, England captured the British, Commonwealth, and European Heavyweight title in November 2020 after opponent Daniel Dubois took a 10-count while down on one knee.

The victory also earned Joyce the WBO silver and WBO international heavyweight titles. At the same time, he was promoted to the number 2 ranking in the heavyweight division by the WBO.

Joyce is undefeated in 12 bouts with 11 knockouts. He owns notable wins over former WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne and former heavyweight title challengers Bryant Jennings and Alexander Ustinov.

Clearing the Way for Fury vs Joshua

Should the Usyk vs Joyce interim title fight get booked, it will clear the way for an undisputed title fight between WBC champion Tyson Fury and unified champion Anthony Joshua. As the WBO’s mandatory challenger, Usyk could have enforced his right to a mandatory title fight against Joshua and at first, it was believed he would insist.

However, Usyk may have agreed to step aside with the assurance that he (or the winner of the interim title fight) will get the first crack at the winner between Fury and Joshua. Late last year, he was already softening on his stance by saying that a Fury-Joshua showdown would be a massive fight that needs to happen before it’s too late.

According to online sportsbook Bet365, Fury is the current -188 betting favorite to beat Joshua who is currently listed at +137 . If the oddsmakers are correct with their odds, then Usyk could end up facing the Gypsy King who will have a massive six inch height and 7 inch reach advantage over Usyk.

Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.