Undisputed cruiserweight world champion and 2018 FightNights.com Fighter of the Year Oleksandr Usyk could be getting closer to landing a fight with unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua.
According to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, Usyk should become the WBO mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua if the Ukrainian decides to move up to heavyweight.
"Under the WBO rules, Usyk, once he steps up - if he steps up - should become that automatic mandatory. I was with the WBO last week in Puerto Rico," Hearn told Sky Sports.
"Dillian [Whyte] is number one. That won't be called for another month or so, and it's not due until September, October, but Dillian is in the running to be that mandatory, but if you turn down a shot at the world heavyweight title, these don't come around very often.
"I want to make sure that deal is good enough for him to accept, but I also want him to take it, because this is it. This is the world heavyweight championship.
"You've got a chance to fight for it, in your own country, to become the king of the division."
Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), 28, who will be making his seventh world title defense on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London against an undetermined opponent, pulverized former contender Alexander Povetkin last September in a seventh-round knockout. Joshua could face the aforementioned Whyte in a rematch or Jarrell Miller. However, Usyk could slip his way in for a fall bout.
Usyk (16-0, 12 KO's), a 31-year-old southpaw and 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, signed a promotional deal with Hearn in September, and his first bout aired on the DAZN streaming service. Usyk, who is widely regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best in boxing, rallied to score an eighth-round knockout of Tony Bellew in November to remain the undisputed champion.
A fight date has been booked for Usyk, but it is currently unknown whether it will be his heavyweight debut, or another defense of his undisputed cruiserweight titles.