Sports

Usyk team appeal IBF to preserve undisputed status for Fury rematch

Eddie Hearn highlights the unfairness of potentially forcing Hrgović to wait until 2025 for a title shot

Undisputed heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk’s camp has requested the International Boxing Federation (IBF) grant him an exemption to keep his upcoming rematch with Tyson Fury a fight for the undisputed championship.

Usyk faces the prospect of being stripped of the IBF belt this weekend for failing to meet the mandatory challenger, Filip Hrgović. The undefeated Croatian heavyweight has been due a title shot since 2022.

Hrgović’s bout with British hopeful Daniel Dubois, set for Saturday (1 June) in Saudi Arabia, was initially expected to be an IBF title bout.

However, Usyk’s manager, Egis Klimas, confirmed they have petitioned the IBF to allow Usyk to retain the belt and maintain his undisputed status.

“We’re waiting for a decision to be made,” Klimas said. “Oleksandr, of course, is a two-time unified (champion at cruiserweight and heavyweight) and if the next fight is just for the three belts, I don’t think it’s going to be fair for either of the two guys. Either Tyson Fury or for Oleksandr.”

Klimas emphasised the pre-existing rematch clause aimed at preserving undisputed status and expressed hope for a favourable IBF ruling.

He acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the Hrgović vs. Dubois outcome but believes supporting the undisputed title fight is the right decision.

“I think right now it would be the right decision for the IBF to say, ‘We’re supporting the undisputed’, which is also I believe in the rulings but we don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Klimas said.

However, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn voiced concerns about further delays for Hrgović’s title shot.

“My understanding is, there’s already been an exception,” Hearn said. “I get both sides of the argument. You really don’t want the belts to be fragmented, but you’ve got a guy (Hrgović) who has been ordered ages ago and has been waiting and waiting and waiting.”

Hearn highlighted the unfairness of potentially forcing Hrgović to wait until 2025 for a title shot if he defeats Dubois. He acknowledges the importance of undisputed fights but argues for a fair timeline for mandatory challengers.

“You can’t ignore your mandatory challenger for two or three years. I get the whole idea of, ‘Yeah, it’s great to have an undisputed champion.’ But what if the shoe is on the other foot, and you’re this guy (Hrgović) that’s been mandatory, and now he goes out and beats Dubois? He’s told, ‘You can’t get your title shot until the summer of 2025.”

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