Oleksandr Usyk can have major heavyweight fights in 2019, says promoter Eddie Hearn
"There's so many fights for him at heavyweight that he could jump straight into"
By Richard Damerell and Andy Scott
Last Updated: 25/11/18 11:22am
Oleksandr Usyk will be encouraged to have "major heavyweight fights" as Andre Ward or Adonis Stevenson are among limited options at cruiserweight, says promoter Eddie Hearn.
The Ukrainian is yet to confirm his next move after defending all four of his world cruiserweight titles with an eighth-round knockout win over Tony Bellew in Manchester.
Joining Anthony Joshua in the top division has been mentioned by Usyk after he signed a deal with Matchroom Boxing boss Hearn, who believes the 31-year-old can become one of the few elite fighters to hold world titles in both divisions.
"Ultimately if he talks about the likes of Joshua, he needs to move into those realms of opponents and size, sooner rather than later," Hearn told Sky Sports.
"He is 31, so he's a spring chicken in terms of miles on the clock in the professional game, but he's good enough to go on and mix it with those top heavyweights now.
"You look at the opponents for Usyk at heavyweight - Jarrell Miller, Dillian Whyte, Derek Chisora, Adam Kownacki, Luis Ortiz. There's so many fights for him at heavyweight that he could jump straight into.
"Back to the days of Evander Holyfield, he was a genius, his size compared to the others, but he made up for it with skill and heart. Usyk is going to have to do the same thing, because to beat these big, big guys, he's going to have to do what very few have done before him.
"How many have gone from undisputed or unified cruiserweight champion to undisputed or unified heavyweight champion? Not many, so he would be on a very small list, but that's what he wants to do. He's focused to do it, and I see Usyk being in some major heavyweight fights in 2019."
After becoming undisputed champion, Hearn does not believe there are many remaining tests in his current weight class, unless Ward or Stevenson can be lured to challenge him.
Hearn said: "I still think he'll move to heavyweight, because if he doesn't, who are the fights?
"Really, I see probably two fights - that's Andre Ward and Adonis Stevenson. Ward is retired. Would he come out for a Usyk fight? Who knows?
"Adonis Stevenson is at light-heavy, but talks about moving to cruiser. It could be a big fight in the US market. Lebedev is one that's a big fight in Russia."