Oleksandr Usyk ‘didn’t want a defense, he wanted a challenge’
Oleksandr Usyk wouldn’t have remained at cruiserweight for any old fight, according to manager Egis Klimas.
The superb Ukrainian has consistently been linked to a heavyweight campaign on the back of becoming undisputed at 200 pounds.
Lifting the Ali Trophy and defeating the number two, three and four cruisers in the world, Usyk had a dilemma on his hands.
At 31, would he stick around for what could be a mandatory or routine defense of his title?
‘No’, says Klimas who believes facing Tony Bellew this weekend is the acid test for Usyk.
“I’m very proud to represent the best Cruiserweight in the division right now. I can say that for sure it is going to be a very tough fight. It’s not going to be an easy walk in the park,” said Klimas.
“As we know, Tony is a very good fighter. Both of these guys want a challenge. Oleksandr doesn’t just want to defend his belts, he wants a challenge. Just like Tony did during his age.
“He was the best Cruiserweight and there was nobody left for him to fight so he stepped into the Heavyweight division, that says a lot.
“Now that he has a challenge, he says ‘screw it, I’m coming down. I want a challenge and I want those belts’. That’s why I think this is going to be a very good bout,” he added.
Bellew assumes his usual role as the underdog for the contest at Manchester Arena, which is on course to be a sell-out.
Usyk has the ultimate incentive to defeat Bellew as a path then opens up to challenge Anthony Joshua in the next 18 months.
It could be too early for April 13, although September or the spring of 2020 could be the ideal time for Usyk’s top division title bid.
Firstly, Bellew stands in the way of cleaning up the division before Usyk can fixate his future efforts on a run at 200 pounds plus.