Directly after beating Murat Gassiev to claim all four world titles and win the World Boxing Super Series final, Britain’s Tony Bellew called out the now undisputed cruiserweight champion. Bellew, like Usyk, is undefeated at cruiserweight and previously owned the WBC world title, one the Ukrainian now owns. After Bellew moved up to heavyweight to conquer David Haye, the WBC made “Bomber” the ‘Emeritus’ champion, meaning if he was to return to the weight the current holder must defend it against him. Bellew’s power against Usky’s footwork and combination punching would make for a fascinating match up.
Having now conquered the cruiserweight division, Usyk may follow many a long history of 200lbs fighters moving up to heavyweight in search of a greater legacy, and even more lucrative payday. Usyk has previously stated his desire to move up to heavyweight, and now being an undisputed champion the 31-year-old may not want to settle for anything but the best. Although Joshua is expected to take on Wilder in 2019, nothing is certain, and the challenge of Usyk would certainly be an appealing alternative. Usyk is likely to sit out the rest of 2018 and could be waiting in the wings for AJ next year.
To book his place in the WBSS final, Usyk had to come past the challenge of Briedis in the semi-final, where the Ukrainian was taken all the way to a majority decision win. After a dramatic and thrilling fight, despite Briedis losing the contest, the Latvian came away with much praise for testing Usyk like never before, and due to the quality and competitiveness of the contest, a rematch would not be a miss for fans.
- Denis Lebedev
Lebedev held the WBA ‘super’ cruiserweight title prior to the WBSS, however, the organisation demoted the Russian to ‘champion in recess’. The WBA stated the WBSS winner must face Lebedev, who has only had one career loss coming against Briedis. If Usyk is faced with the ultimatum of defend or be stripped, the challenge against the former world champion may be welcomed.
- Manuel Charr
Charr currently holds the WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight title, while also being an experienced campaigner at the weight having shared the ring with Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin and former Usyk opponent Mairis Briedis. If Usyk is to move up to heavyweight and look to ease his way into the division, while winning a diluted title at the same time, Charr acts as the perfect opponent, as long as Lebanese-German can come through his bout with Fres Oquendo in September.