After unifying the cruiserweight division, Oleksandr Usyk made it clear his intentions to campaign as a heavyweight. And it's evident that he and his team are getting on the fast track to a title shot, as the WBO announced on Saturday night that it has designated him as its mandatory challenger.
Currently, the WBO heavyweight title is held by Andy Ruiz, who captured the belt by stopping the heavily favored Anthony Joshua in seven rounds on June 1 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The plan is for Ruiz and Joshua to engage in a rematch later this year.
The WBO ruling came after a petition filed on behalf of Usyk (16-0, 12 KO's) that listed his achievements in boxing: capturing an Olympic gold medal for Ukraine in the 2012 Olympics; turning pro and winning the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. During that stretch he defeated the trio of Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev to consolidate all four major belts in the division.
He capped off his cruiserweight run by knocking out Tony Bellew in eight rounds in November in Manchester, England. Bellew had previously held the WBC cruiserweight belt before moving up to fight David Haye in a pair of heavyweight bouts. For his efforts, Usyk was named 2018 fighter of the year by various outlets.
Usyk, 32, was scheduled to make his heavyweight debut on May 25 versus the respected Carlos Takam but was pulled from that fight as he suffered a biceps injury during training. He is expected to return to the ring at some point during the fall.