Oleksandr Usyk told Anthony Joshua “I’m coming for you” after the Ukrainian moved a step closer towards a world heavyweight title fight next year with a unanimous decision victory over the brave Dereck Chisora.
Joshua was in attendance at Wembley’s SSE Arena on Saturday night as Usyk used his superior footwork, speed and ring craft to extend his unbeaten professional record to 18 victories from as many fights.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion gave away almost 40lbs in weight and survived a testing opening couple of rounds but did enough to be given the nod by two scores of 115-113 and one of 117-112 on the judges’ scorecards.
He therefore cemented his position as the mandatory challenger for the WBO title which is currently held by Joshua, who defends that belt and his IBF and WBA crowns against Kubrat Pulev next month.
Joshua has agreed in principle to fight WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury twice in 2021, but Usyk looms large on the horizon after his points win in what was only his second fight in boxing’s blue riband division.
Usyk said on Matchroom’s YouTube channel: “Anthony, how are you? I’m coming for you. I want (Joshua next).”
Usyk’s status means Joshua may have to relinquish his WBO strap in order to go through with his fight against Fury.
Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn said: “AJ wants to fight Usyk but his focus is on fighting Tyson Fury.
“AJ wants the challenge against these great heavyweights and Usyk is a very, very good heavyweight.
“Usyk’s disadvantage is his size and he’s handicapped in that sense because he’s unbeatable at cruiserweight, the only way he’s going to get beaten is by fighting guys that are too big for him.”
Even amid a couple of onslaughts from Chisora, there was little evidence of Usyk suffering a first career defeat as the slick southpaw remained composed to hand the British veteran his 10th defeat in 42 professional outings.
Usyk said: “He has big power and big, strong punches, but I was prepared for it.”
Hearn added: “I thought it was really, really close, it was a brilliant fight. It was a great fight for Usyk to learn about the division and kick on from there.”
Hearn’s next three shows will take place at Wembley and the Matchroom promoter revealed Joshua-Pulev on December 12 could even be shifted to the venue from the O2 Arena.
Hearn had been optimistic restrictions would be eased to allow limited numbers to attend Joshua’s title defence, but it seems a forlorn hope as England is set to go into a second national lockdown for four weeks from Thursday.
Hearn said: “AJ-Pulev may end up landing here, subject to the official ruling on crowds, which doesn’t look good. Rather than move it over to the O2, maybe we’re back at Wembley.”