Major call made on Oleksandr Usyk’s undisputed status ahead of Tyson Fury rematch

Oleksandr Usyk is set to retain his status as undisputed heavyweight champion, at least for the time being, after the IBF opted against stripping him of its title.

Usyk outpointed Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia on 18 May to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years, but it was expected that the Ukrainian would soon have the IBF belt taken from him.

The IBF title was expected to be on the line this Saturday (1 June), when mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic boxes Daniel Dubois in Riyadh, but the IBF has decided to create an interim belt for that fight.

As a result, Usyk will keep the official title for the time being, as well as his undisputed status, though it is unclear whether the 37-year-old will be stripped before his rematch with Fury. That bout will take place in Riyadh on 21 December.

The winner of Hrgovic vs Dubois is in line to fight Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium in September, meaning the IBF interim title will be up for grabs in that bout, if it comes to fruition.

However, if Usyk is stripped before then, Hrgovic or Dubois will be upgraded to become the official champion. It is also possible that the winner of Hrgovic/Dubois vs Joshua will be upgraded after their fight instead.

Fury, 35, was unbeaten prior to his clash with Usyk, who stayed undefeated with his split-decision victory over the Briton. Usyk rocked Fury badly in round nine, forcing the referee to give the “Gypsy King” a standing count.

Fury is represented by Frank Warren, who also promotes Briton Dubois. On Saturday, Dubois faces a stern test in the form of Croatia’s Hrgovic, with the pair squaring off as part of the Matchroom vs Queensberry card.

Warren has picked five fighters to represent Queensberry, while the unbeaten Hrgovic is among the five boxers selected by Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn.