After stopping Tony Bellew in the eighth round on Saturday, undisputed cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk is now looking to the heavyweight division, and to emerge as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters.
And Usyk (16-0, 12 KO) is relying on Anthony Joshua to help him achieve this, where Joshua is currently unified world heavyweight champion and obviously, the man with the money.
Joshua (22-22, 21 by KO) holds three of the four major championships with the IBF title since 2016; the WBA (Super) since 2017; and the WBO since March 2018.
“Becoming heavyweight champion of the world is not what I’m dreaming of. It’s my goal. It’s what I’m planning to do,” says Usyk.
Usyk believes his endurance, footwork and elusiveness are enough to challenge Joshua, along with his work-rate and quantity of punches.
Over 12 rounds, this could prove an issue for bigger men not accustomed to this pace. The Ukrainian also has a chin; possibly the most valuable commodity in the heavyweight division.
But some have doubted he will make the weight.
Usyk’s 14st 4lb must gain at least a stone, whilst remaining some way short of Joshua’s massive physique, recently trimmed to just short of 18st.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed Joshua’s interest, however.
“I think he’s intrigued by Usyk. I think he’d like to fight Usyk, I think he would like to fight everybody who he views as a top level fighter," Hearn revealed.
"That could end up being a huge, huge fight, but I think Usyk in the post-fight interview was very sensible, and said this division is not a joke.”
Hearn has gone on to say that Usyk would be wise to test himself with two fights at heavyweight before going for Joshua.
And that although the 32-year-old is an incredibly skilled fighter, moving up in weight is always a risk, especially when this is up to heavyweight.
Back in September, Joshua said: “Usyk needs to move up in the right stages, and figure out what it’s like being with 17 or 18 stone guys who can punch very hard.
"It’s not just based on skill, the heavyweight division. Its based on will. How much you can take.
"I know he’s got amateur experience and has done well as a cruiserweight but if he moves up to heavyweight division, it will also test his will as well as his skill.”