Oleksandr Usyk purports UFC offer from Dana White

Oleksandr Usyk: If not Tyson Fury, then who?

It seems like Tyson Fury keeps moving the goal posts for a potential unification bout of the heavyweight titles. After much back and forth, Oleksandr Usyk and his team have had enough and said that Tyson Fury is asking for entirely too much in an already one-sided deal. So, if we’re not getting that, which is by far the most compelling fight, who do we get to see Usyk fight?

If he’s fighting for legacy, there are three presumable fights he can take that make the most sense sans Tyson Fury. Let’s begin!

Andy Ruiz: The Former Champion

Andy Ruiz is an odd case. He was champion for a season when he took a fight with then-champ Anthony Joshua, on two weeks’ notice. Ruiz shocked the world and knocked out Joshua in the seventh round. This fight for Oleksandr Usyk is a checklist sort of fight. Ruiz is a former champion, maybe not the highest regarded champ, but a former champion none the less. Should Usyk fight him next, it adds to the list of champions he’s already beat in becoming one of boxing’s best fighters.

The problem with Ruiz is that he’s not a draw. He’s sort of out of the inner circle of family and finding a fight that’s meaningful for him is hard. But Usyk wants to fight and this is a fight he can take and win.

Joe Joyce: The Future Champion

Joe Joyce is a future heavyweight champion. At only 15-0, Joyce has been an annihilator and destroyed everything in his path. He’s a modern-day George Foreman when it comes to fighting style: not very technical but very powerful. Oleksandr Usyk matching up with Joyce would be future proofing his resume. This guy is going to be champion at one point or another. Beating him would only add to what he’s done post-career. It would be like Floyd Mayweather’s win over Canelo Alvarez.

The problem with Joyce is the risk. Sure, Usyk should win but Joyce can end the fight for anyone at any time. With no former credentials to bring to the table, Usyk may pass on this one for now.

The best Oleksandr Usyk fight: Deontay Wilder

If Oleksandr Usyk wants to draw Tyson Fury out, he needs to fight Deontay Wilder, heavyweight’s scariest man. Wilder has knockout power like nobody else has ever seen and is a former three-time foe of Tyson Fury. Wilder is the former WBC champion and brings a lot of eyes to the table. Should Usyk go out and beat Wilder in a more impressive fashion than Tyson Fury, a tall task, it could lure Fury into a fight not wanting Usyk to overshadow his comeback.

Deontay Wilder is the fight, belt or no belt. While we may see a tune up or two between now and whenever Usyk’s next big fight is, a big fight is coming.

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