Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2: What’s next for the Ukrainian master after Saudi Arabia heavyweight title showdown?

Oleksandr Usyk cemented his place among boxing’s modern greats with his masterful unanimous victory over Anthony Joshua last September in London.

Usyk tamed his 2012 Olympic gold medalist with a commanding display, setting up the pair’s blockbuster rematch in Saudi Arabia on August 20.

A former undisputed cruiserweight champion who emerged with an amateur record of 335-15, another win in Jeddah would further cement his place in the pantheon, but in world heavyweight boxing there are no guarantees.

Win or lose, there are intriguing battles in Usyk’s future, although at the age of 35 he will strive to choose wisely in what could be the final leg of a phenomenal career.

MORE: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2: What’s next for AJ after heavyweight title showdown in Saudi Arabia?

What’s next for Oleksandr Usyk if he beats Anthony Joshua?

The week before Usyk’s rematch with Joshua, Tyson Fury announced his comeback and then dropped out again within three days. The fact that Fury has reached out to WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman to update him on his plans but the sanctioning body has yet to clear their belt only adds to a picture of confusion that may very well be the champion’s intention could be.

“Everyone is waiting for the fight to happen a week before Saturday and then we will see if it’s feasible to have a fight for full unification,” Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum told Fight Freaks Unite, as his fighter courted fights with Derek Chisora ​​​​and Hafthor Bjornsson, but before his recent retirement to mark his 34th birthday. “He’s having fun, for heaven’s sake! Don’t take it seriously!”

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It’s at least encouraging for fans to hear that Arum believes a showdown between Fury and Usyk is a possibility. In terms of sheer boxing skill and the mysteries each man would force the other to solve, it would be fascinating.

For his part, Fury has sneered at Usyk, dismissing him as a “bloated middleweight”, albeit primarily a barb sent in Joshua’s direction. However, there is little doubt that a fight with his compatriot is both a more marketable and less complicated proposition.

Fury is a vastly improved fighter over the one who was knocked down by another former cruiserweight champion in Steve Cunningham earlier in his career, but he might reckon a nimble, skilled, shorter heavyweight division is a headache he can do without. If Usyk beats Joshua again, Fury’s retirement seems relatively more likely to remain.

A defeated Joshua and Fury off the stage would leave the division in some flux, meaning it could be a good time for Usyk to tackle one of those pesky mandatory commitments that come awfully fast for united champions. Filip Hrgovicundefeated and highly rated, meets Zhang Zhilei on the undercard Usyk vs. Joshua 2 in an IBF Finals eliminator, and that status could, given the circumstances, for the 6ft 6in Croatian, who has won 12 of his 14 pro fights actually have some weight distance.

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Usyk’s involvements with Joshua and former WBC cruiserweight king Tony Bellew mean his profile in the UK is considerable. He also boxed Joe Joyce in the World Series of Boxing before everyone turned pro. His former amateur rival is ranked highly by the WBC, WBO and IBF and a showdown between the two could be huge if Joyce is able to negotiate former WBO champion Joseph Parker in September.

if Deontay Wilder is in great shape when he returns to the ring, allegedly against Robert Helenius in October, then a duel between the KO machine and Usyk, the champion boxer, would whet the appetite enormously.

What next for Oleksandr Usyk if he loses to Anthony Joshua?

Depending on the nature of the loss, a rubber match with Joshua would be possible, with AJ far more likely to be chasing undisputed status. Andy Ruiz has made his feelings clear about wanting a third fight with Joshua after stopping the Brit in seven before losing a lopsided points decision in their rematch.

If Usyk is dethroned, a meeting between the two men who beat Joshua would be an easy sell and a decent method of deciding who most deserves a third fight. Ruiz is back on form and preparing to face veteran Cuban Luis Ortiz in September.

The danger for Usyk in a loss is that he would join the ‘who needs him’ club given the unique problems he poses for any heavyweight. Tapping into old storylines can always help in this situation, and a return to its roots of phenomenal amateur pedigree could yield some intriguing contests.

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Frank Sanchez is an undefeated Cuban defector, 20-0 as a pro. His most notable victory came over fellow undefeated Efe Ajagba on the undercard Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3. Still, he’s keen to pit his nifty skills against Usyk or, for that matter, one of the leading big men.

“I want the best opponents right now, the top five, in Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk,” Sanchez told ESNews this year via a translator, as quoted by Boxing Scene. “I will easily knock out Fury. He has no boxing skills. Usyk is even easier. He has movement, but he doesn’t have the technique that I have.”

To back up the brazen talk, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, 29, has coach Eddy Reynoso in his corner and Al Haymon handling the promotional side.

Another Olympic standout who won’t be facing Usyk anytime soon is 2016 super heavyweight gold medalist Tony Yoka after the Frenchman suffered a painful loss to Usyk Martin Bakol.

This victory earned the popular Scotland-based Congolese fighter a good position with the sanctions authorities and he was called into the camp by Usyk as a sparring partner. It might be fun to watch them actually do it.

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