LAS VEGAS – Eddie Hearn acknowledged Oleksandr Usyk hasn’t exactly looked great since he moved up to the heavyweight division.
The British promoter still thinks the former undisputed cruiserweight champion would give Anthony Joshua a difficult fight. Assuming Hearn, whose company promotes Joshua and co-promotes Usyk, and Alex Krassyuk, Usyk’s other promotional representative, come to an agreement soon, Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) will make a mandated defense of his WBO heavyweight title versus Ukraine’s Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) late this summer.
Hearn told a group of reporters recently that a Joshua-Usyk fight would take place either late in August or early in September at an undetermined venue in the United Kingdom. With COVID-19 restrictions likely loosened by then in the UK, Joshua-Usyk could be held in a soccer stadium, with a full allotment of fans in attendance.
If Joshua-Usyk is indeed next, England’s Joshua will go from training for a 6-feet-9, 270-pound, right-handed opponent in Tyson Fury to preparing for a 6-feet-3, 215-pound southpaw.
“It’s a very tough fight,” Hearn said. “[Joshua] loves challenges and he loves fighting good fighters. And he thinks Usyk is a really good fighter. He’s a pound-for-pound, top fighter. He’s the undisputed cruiserweight world champion. You know, some say he hasn’t looked sensational at heavyweight. But he’s probably gonna get better at heavyweight as he gets more used to the weight, and more used to the division. So, I think it’s a really, really dangerous fight, a tricky fight.
“And I think AJ’s gotta go in there and be completely ruthless in that fight. You know, AJ loves to learn. He loves to box with good boxers. But you don’t really wanna go in there and start mucking around and boxing with Oleksandr Usyk. You wanna go in there, cut off the ring and get him out of there. And that’s what I think the game plan would be.”
The 34-year-old Usyk is 2-0 in heavyweight bouts since the 2012 Olympic gold medalist relinquished the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO cruiserweight championships to move up. After stopping a 38-year-old Chazz Witherspoon after seven rounds in what amounted to an unremarkable performance in October 2019, Usyk out-pointed Dereck Chisora (32-11, 23 KOs) in a competitive 12-rounder October 31 at Wembley Arena in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.