Undisputed heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk has reportedly asked the IBF to give him an exception to allow him to keep his title for his rematch with Tyson Fury in October instead of them stripping the belt from him.

Usyk Seeks to Defend Undisputed Title in Rematch

Lance Pugmire, @PugBoxing, of Boxingscene, reports that Usyk (22-0, 14 KOs) has requested that the IBF let him keep his title for the second Fury fight.

Usyk’s IBF mandatory is due against Filip Hrgovic, and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, wants the belt to be at stake next Saturday night for his clash against Daniel Dubois on June 1st in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

If the IBF grants Usyk’s request, it’ll make his rematch with Fury a bigger one due to the undisputed being on the line again. Last Saturday, Usyk defeated Fury by a 12-round split decision in Riyadh to become the undisputed champion.

Political Implications and Timing of the Decision

It would be an unpopular move by the International Boxing Federation to strip Usyk, who is from Ukraine. It obviously means a lot that he captured the undisputed championship last weekend.

Given the world politics surrounding the war in Ukraine, it would be a bad look for the IBF to strip Usyk less than two weeks after he became the undisputed champion. The timing is bad right now for the IBF to strip Usyk. It would be a lousy look for any champion to be stripped that quickly after becoming undisputed champ, but the situation is more complicated now.

Hearn’s Strategic Considerations

Hearn won’t be happy if Usyk is allowed to keep his IBF strap because he wants Hrgovic to fight for the belt next weekend, and he feels confident he’ll be victorious against Dubois. If Hrgovic (17-0, 14 KOs) wins that fight, it would set up a clash between him and Anthony Joshua, to battle with the IBF title being at stake.

The idea here is that Joshua beats Hrgovic to capture the IBF title, then uses the strap to validate him, strengthen his negotiating muscle, and create more interest for an undisputed championship clash against the Fury vs. Usyk rematch winner.

Hearn has already made it known that he’s hoping Fury defeats Usyk in the rematch, which probably won’t happen. Usyk is likely the one that will emerge victorious in the rematch with Fury, and Hearn will need to decide if he wants Joshua to fight him in a trilogy or go after Fury, who would be 0-2 coming off a second loss.

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