Usyk Vacates IBF Belt: Heavyweight Boxing Landscape Shifts

Usyk’s IBF Belt Lost: The End of His Undisputed Reign

In a dramatic turn of events, Oleksandr Usyk has relinquished his IBF belt just weeks after making history. The Ukrainian boxer, who defeated Tyson Fury on 18 May to unify the WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF titles, is no longer the undisputed heavyweight champion.

Usyk vs. Fury: A Short-Lived Triumph

Usyk’s victory over Fury marked the first time in nearly 25 years that a heavyweight boxer had held all four major belts. The split decision win was a landmark moment, positioning Usyk among the greats of the sport. However, the joy was short-lived as the IBF mandated that Usyk must face their next challenger, or vacate the title. Usyk’s plea to retain the IBF belt until his rematch with Fury on 21 December was ultimately rejected by the organisation.

Photo: IMAGO

The Joshua-Dubois Showdown

The IBF belt is now set to become the prize in the highly anticipated fight between Anthony Joshua and Daniel Dubois. Dubois, the IBF’s mandatory challenger, will face Joshua at Wembley Stadium on 21 September. Usyk, in a gracious gesture, acknowledged this upcoming battle in a video message posted on social media: “Anthony and Daniel, I know the IBF title is important to you. It is my present to you on 21 September.”

Historical Context: The Last Undisputed Champion

The last boxer to hold the undisputed heavyweight title before Usyk was Britain’s Lennox Lewis in 1999, during the three-belt era. It wasn’t until 2007 that the WBO title was recognised as a major belt, complicating the path to undisputed status. Usyk’s brief reign as the four-belt undisputed champion has now come to an end, but his legacy in the sport remains secure.

Future Prospects for Usyk and the Heavyweight Division

With Usyk now focusing on his rematch with Fury, the heavyweight division is once again in flux. The Joshua-Dubois fight promises to be a thrilling encounter, with both fighters eager to claim the IBF belt and carve out their place in boxing history. Meanwhile, Usyk’s decision to vacate the title reflects the complex politics of the sport, where mandatory challenges and organisational rules can swiftly alter the landscape.

As the date approaches for both the Joshua-Dubois clash and the Usyk-Fury rematch, the world of boxing will be watching closely. The outcomes of these fights will shape the future of the heavyweight division and potentially set the stage for new rivalries and historic achievements.

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