The undisputed world heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, has confirmed he will vacate his IBF title, clearing the way for Daniel Dubois and Anthony Joshua to fight for it in September. The Ukrainian became the first heavyweight to hold the IBF, WBO, WBA and WBC belts when he beat Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia last month – but has been forced to relinquish one of the belts.

With Usyk now contracted to a rematch with Fury, he is not in a position to defend the IBF crown against Dubois, who is the interim champion and mandatory challenger after stopping Filip Hrgovic in Riyadh this month. That means Dubois’s anticipated 21 September bout against Joshua at Wembley Stadium will probably become a world title fight. In a video posted on social media, Usyk said:

“Anthony and Daniel, listen. I know the IBF title is important to you. It is my present to you on 21 September.” A caption added: “The world loves strong. Your friend, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, Oleksandr Usyk.”

The 37-year-old had reportedly asked to retain the IBF belt until December, in order to make his expected rematch with Fury another fight for the undisputed title. However, IBF rules meant Usyk would have been stripped of that belt unless he fought Dubois first. Usyk completed the set of world titles with his split-decision points win over Fury adding his opponent’s WBC belt to the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. He won all three of those titles from Joshua with a stunning victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September 2021.

After defending his titles against Joshua in Jeddah with a split-decision victory in August 2022, Usyk fought Dubois last year in Wroclaw and won by ninth-round knockout, setting up his first unifying fight against Fury. Since losing to Usyk in Poland, Dubois has defeated Jarrell Miller and Hrgovic, both by knockout. Joshua defeated Jermaine Franklin, Robert Helenius and Otto Wallin last year before flooring Francis Ngannou inside two rounds in Riyadh in March.

https://www.theguardian.com/

26/06/2024 17:32:24
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