At least one sanctioning body has grown tired of buffoonery exhibited by the two best heavyweights in the world.
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk have spent the past several months in talks for an undisputed heavyweight championship showdown. The process has devolved into a series of demands and gimmicks in an ongoing back and forth between the two through social media. The WBA brass have opted to serve as the grown-ups in the room and now prepared to put back in play a title consolidation fight between Usyk and Daniel Dubois.
“The Championships Committee had ordered Usyk-Dubois but this was vacated to give priority to Usyk-Fury,” WBA Championship Committee chairman Carlos Chavez declared in a ruling reached Friday. “The deadline expired last Friday and an extension was granted until today at 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time/10:00 p.m. GMT).
“Therefore, at the end of this period, the combat between Usyk and Dubois will be ordered.”
Ukraine’s Usyk (20-0, 13KOs) holds the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles, all of which have mandatory challengers waiting in queue for their respective shot at the unbeaten two-division champ. The sanctioning bodies agreed that the WBA is next in rotation, which leaves England’s Dubois (19-1, 18KOs) next up as the WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight titlist.
Fury (33-0-1, 24KOs) is the reigning WBC and lineal champion. His WBC reign is currently in the voluntary title defense phase as there does not currently exist a mandatory challenger. Dubois and Fury are both promoted by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, as is interim WBO heavyweight titlist Joe Joyce (15-0, 14KOs).
The mandatory rotation was acknowledged by the IBF, who had to rescind its previous order for Usyk to next face Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic (15-0, 12KOs).
Queensberry has yet to enforce Dubois’ mandatory status, primarily due to its commitment to get Fury-Usyk over the line. The targeted date is April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, though even an agreement reached Friday would leave just seven weeks to promote what would be the first undisputed heavyweight championship in more than 23 years.
Lennox Lewis outpointed Evander Holyfield in their November 1999 rematch to fully unify the division. Fittingly, it was the WBA who broke up the reign as Lewis was forced to relinquish the belt ahead of his April 2000 knockout win over Michael Grant, in lieu of a less attractive mandatory title defense versus John Ruiz.
This time, the WBA is justified in its action to either have the involved parties move things along.
It remains unclear what is actually taking place between camps behind the scenes. Publicly, Alex Krassyuk, Usyk’s career-long promoter, informed iD Boxing co-founder and managing director Rob Tebbutt that their latest proposal was a 60-40 split for the winner, rather than one side or the other receiving the lion’s share in advance.
Manchester’s Fury dismissed the idea and instead issued—if to be taken seriously—a take-it-or-leave-it offer of 70-30 in favor of the unbeaten lineal/WBC champ. Additionally, Fury claimed there would be a one-percent deduction for every day that Usyk failed to close the deal.
Usyk publicly accepted though with one stipulation.
“Hey, greedy belly. I accept your offer. 70-30 split to fight you on April 29th at Wembley,” insisted Usyk before getting to his own terms. “But you will promise to donate to Ukraine immediately after the fight a million pounds. Every day of your delay, you will pay one percent (more) from your purse to Ukrainian people. Deal?”
It was enough for even for the WBA to put an end to such ridiculousness.
“The deadline to agree on the unification between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury will expire today at 5 p.m. (-5 GMT),” confirmed Chavez. “After this deadline, the mandatory fight between Usyk and Daniel Dubois will be ordered to be negotiated.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox