Yet another heavyweight title fight has hit a wall.
BoxingScene.com has learned that talks have all but ceased in the WBA-ordered Oleksandr Usyk-Daniel Dubois title consolidation bout. The 30-day negotiation period assigned to the proposed bout ended May 2 without a deal in place or hope for any progress. A purse bid is expected to be called in the coming days.
Ukraine’s Usyk (20-0, 13KOs) holds the WBA ‘Super’/IBF/WBO heavyweight titles, while London’s Dubois is the current WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight titleholder. Dubois’ team is led by Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren and manager Martin Bowers, while Usyk is guided by Alex Krassyuk’s K2 Promotions-Ukraine and multiple-time BWAA Manager of the Year recipient Egis Klimas.
Dubois’ team lobbied for the mandatory title fight, which the WBA granted on the condition that the heavyweight provide medical records to confirm his availability. The secondary titlist reportedly suffered a torn ACL in his off-the-canvas, third round stoppage of Kevin Lerena last December 3 in North London.
Concerns were raised over the severity of the injury and whether he could honor a mandatory title challenge versus Usyk on the WBA’s timetables. That was no longer an issue once the proper documentation was submitted to the sanctioning body to trigger the ordered fight.
Should the fight make it to a purse bid—as the WBA has yet to act nearly two weeks after the deadline—Usyk would earn 75 percent as the WBA ‘Super’ champion. Dubois would receive the remaining 25 percent as the ‘Regular’ titleholder, although his team was eager to reach a deal according to multiple sources with knowledge of prior talks.
The ordered title consolidation bout came in the wake of collapsed talks between Usyk and lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24KOs) for what would have been the first undisputed heavyweight championship clash of the 21st century. The two sides teased for months the possibility of a springtime collision, though talks ultimately hit a wall.
It was the WBA who stepped in to order a hard deadline for negotiations to conclude, given its overdue title consolidation fight. Fury and Usyk had until March10 to conclude talks. As Boxing Scene previously reported, both parties confirmed to the WBA that terms were agreed to for their proposed championship clash. The WBA then placed an April 1 deadline to receive signed contracts, though the fight fell apart well before that point.
Dubois entered the equation following a sixth-round knockout of unbeaten Trevor Bryan to claim the WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight title last June 11 in Miami.
Ukraine’s Usyk (20-0, 13KOs) holds the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles, all of which have mandatory challengers waiting in queue for their respective shot at the unbeaten two-division champ. The sanctioning bodies agreed that the WBA is next in rotation, which left Dubois next up as the WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight titlist.
Usyk became a two-division titlist following his September 2021 win over Anthony Joshua in North London. The Ukrainian southpaw—who won an Olympic Gold medal in 2012 London—previously served as the undisputed cruiserweight champion before he moved up to heavyweights.
Four wins have followed including back-to-back victories over Joshua. The repeat feat came last August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. A nip-and-tuck affair through nine rounds saw Usyk puil away in the final nine minutes to successfully lodge his first title defense.
Talks of two major fights surfaced in the aftermath: an undisputed championship clash with Fury; and a blockbuster title defense versus former WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs).
Rumors of a potential undisputed showdown versus Fury continues to make the rounds, though only in terms of updates which have revealed little progress made. It was widely reported that the funding source for Skills Challenge Entertainment is keen on bringing Fury-Usyk and Joshua-Wilder to the Middle East on the same show in December.
Should Usyk-Dubois collapse for any reason, it is believed that Usyk could instead face IBF mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic (15-0, 12KOs).
However, the more complicated matter is the split title status. Usyk-Dubois is required to move forward in accordance with the WBA’s ongoing title reduction campaign. The sanctioning bodies have eliminated secondary titles in all but five remaining weight divisions, with the strawweight title situation expected to be fully resolved in July.
Usyk would have to show a genuine effort to honor his mandatory title defense to avoid being stripped, which would mean either a title defense or an agreement from Dubois’ team to step aside for whatever permitted reason. Conversely, Dubois would be entitled to full (and sole) WBA heavyweight title status should Usyk fail to honor the current order.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox