Oleksandr Usyk will mull heavyweight and cruiserweight options for next fight

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Undisputed cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk is headed to the heavyweight division eventually but not for a showdown with unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua in April and not necessarily for his next fight, Usyk manager Egis Klimas told ESPN.

With Joshua already scheduled to defend his three major belts on April 13 at Wembley Stadium in London, but without a set opponent, there has been chatter that Usyk could perhaps be Joshua's next foe for an intriguing fight between 2012 Olympic gold medalists that would not be that hard to make because Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing promotes both fighters. But Klimas shot that down as the next step.

"I think Usyk's gonna beat Joshua [but] maybe one or two fights [at heavyweight] and then Joshua, but not for April. I don't think we're even going to put Usyk into the ring until April, maybe May, because we want him to have some time to relax," said Klimas, who was at the Top Rank card headlined by the Maurice Hooker-Alex Saucedo junior welterweight world title fight on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena because he also manages welterweight contender Egidijus Kavaliauskas, who knocked out Roberto Arriaza in the third round of the co-feature.

"There is no doubt he's going to the heavyweight division, but the next fight? We have to see," Klimas continued. "We need to talk. We need to see who is available. Do we see any other cruiserweights available? Some people talk about maybe [retired unified light heavyweight titlist] Andre Ward is going to come back because Andre Ward said that he wants to fight [Tony] Bellew, but Bellew didn't beat Usyk. So right now is he considering to come back and fight Usyk?"

Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs), the front-runner for fighter of the year honors, finished off an impressive 2018 on Nov. 10 when he traveled to Manchester, England, and knocked out former cruiserweight titlist Bellew in his home country with a highlight-reel left hand in the eighth round.

"I think it would be a good fight," Klimas said of a potential Ward showdown. "He did very good against [Sergey] Kovalev. So maybe he can do something with Usyk and bring some competition. Personally, I think it's probably better for Usyk to go into the heavyweight division and start knocking out that division."

Klimas also manages Kovalev, who lost his three light heavyweight belts to Ward by controversial decision in November 2016 and then got knocked out by Ward in the eighth round of their immediate rematch in June 2017. A few months later, Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) announced his retirement.

The victory over Bellew was the third of the year for Usyk, who also won the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament and became the division's first four-belt undisputed world champion when he rolled past Murat Gassiev to win a lopsided decision in the tournament final in July in Gassiev's home country of Russia.

After the fight with Bellew, Usyk, 31, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist for Ukraine, was noncommittal on his immediate future.

"He's right now resting. I'm not even calling him. He's coming here to the States to Los Angeles [next week] and we're going to spend a week together," Klimas said.

Klimas said they would travel together to Quebec City to watch Klimas-managed Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who is a close friend of Usyk's, challenge Adonis Stevenson for the light heavyweight world title on Dec. 1, followed by a trip to New York to watch pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko, another Klimas client and close Usyk friend, fight Jose Pedraza in a lightweight world title unification bout on Dec. 8.

"We're going to have time to discus things," Klimas said. "We wanted to give him much more time to relax [after the Bellew fight] because it was a very hard-working year for him. It was a very successful year for Usyk. Three big fights fighting the toughest fighters in the division plus an elbow injury and surgery, so we wanted to give him time to relax."