Sports

Joshua ordered to defend WBO title against mandatory challenger Usyk

On Saturday night, the WBO published the details of a letter emailed to promoters Eddie Hearn and Alexander Krassyuk, in which they confirm that Matchroom chief Hearn’s request for an extension following a “Show Cause” notice received last week that would have given him until Monday to “discuss the subject matter and other related affairs” with Joshua – who also holds the WBA, IBF and IBO belts – has been denied.

That intitial notice saw the WBO ask for Hearn’s position as to why a Joshua defence against Usyk should not be ordered following the recent ruling from a US court that WBC champion Tyson Fury must face Deontay Wilder in a third fight by September 15, therefore scuppering hopes for a massive and lucrative all-British heavyweight unification clash between Joshua and Fury that had been agreed for August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

According to the WBO’s letter, dated May 21, Usyk’s legal team objected to Hearn’s request for an extension, arguing that the Ukrainian is “entitled to enforce his rights as mandatory challenger”.

After confirming that there would be no further extension, the WBO added that both parties now have 10 days – until May 31 – to agree terms on a Joshua vs Usyk title bout or else the governing body will order purse bids.

Usyk is a skilled former undisputed cruiserweight world champion who moved up to heavyweight with victory over Chazz Witherspoon in 2019 and has been the official WBO mandatory for almost two years now.

The 34-year-old – also highly-accomplished as an amateur, winning World, Olympic and European gold – has fought twice on British soil in recent years, stopping Tony Bellew to defend his cruiserweight belts in November 2018 and then outpointing Derek Chisora at Wembley Arena in his second heavyweight contest in October.


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