Frank Warren continues to serve an integral role in the ongoing efforts to finalize one of the biggest heavyweights of the 21st century.
It’s another big fight within the division, however, which has further energized the Hall of Fame promoter.
As the finishing touches are being applied for a superfight—and perhaps even two—between lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) and unified titlist Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22KOs), Warren’s team is angling to cross the finish line on a planned interim heavyweight title fight between Joe Joyce (13-0, 12KOs) and Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13KOs). A few hurdles remain in place for the latter bout, though one which could serve as an attractive headliner as part of the upcoming Queensberry Promotions boxing schedule.
“We’re trying to get that fight sorted out. We’d like to get that fight between Joe and Usyk out sometime in April,” Warren told BoxingScene.com. “It’s a cracking fight. It’s a great opportunity for Joe as it is for me. It’s a tough fight for Joe.”
The fight was first discussed as a desired alternative to Usyk—a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist, former World cruiserweight king and 2018 Fighter of the Year—enforcing his current status as WBO mandatory challenger. Such a move would disrupt plans for Fury and Joshua to collide for every major heavyweight title at stake, although the fight could presumably push through regardless of available hardware.
Usyk has earned that right, given his career accolades and within his rights as the number-one contender who is legally owed a heavyweight title fight. The WBO offered to sweeten the pot for a Joyce-Usyk matchup by making an interim title at stake, with the written guarantee that the winner is first in line for whomever prevails between Fury and Joshua and straight to a title fight should the latter fight fail to materialize within specified deadlines.
The worst-case scenario is that the winner of Fury-Joyce doesn’t get to Fury or Joshua and is instead elevated from interim to WBO world titlist. That part doesn’t necessarily sit well with Usyk, whose team continues to negotiate with all parties involved in Fury-Joshua talks in search of the proper motivation to allow the latter fight to happen while protecting his own rights.
As for Joyce, having the same promoter involved in both fights (Warren co-promotes Fury along with fellow Hall of Fame promoter and Top Rank founder/chairman Bob Arum) can help provide a buffer. A fight with Usyk was brought to the forefront soon after Joyce’s best win to date, a 10th round stoppage of Daniel Dubois (16-1, 15KOs) in their clash of unbeaten British heavyweights last November in Westminster, England.
It’s a fight in which Joyce and his team—including manager Sam Jones who remains in talks with Usyk’s promoter, Alex Krassyuk—are eager to make, even understanding their place in line for a shot at the ultimate prize.
“We’re in discussion with Matchroom with Joshua as Team Fury. We’re in a position where once we get that fight on, it will be a two-fight deal,” Warren notes. “For Joe, he will have to bide his time before he gets to fight the winner.
“The Usyk fight puts Joe in the right place at the right time. Believe me, Usyk is no schmuck and it’s not guaranteed that my guy wins no questions asked (Usyk beat Joyce in a 2013 World Series of Boxing event). It’s a really good fight for the fans and puts the winner in a great position to challenge for the undisputed heavyweight championship.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox