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Joseph Parker unlikely to face Oleksandr Usyk for WBO belt, says Kevin Barry

Anthony Cocks

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Joseph Parker’s team believe unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will hold on to his WBO belt and defend it against Oleksandr Usyk in the summer.

Joshua has been simultaneously ordered to negotiate fights with mandatory contenders Kubrat Pulev and Usyk by the IBF and WBO respectively.

The 29-year-old Brit is expected to pursue the Pulev fight and it has been widely speculated he would be stripped of the WBO belt, a move that would pave the way for Usyk to face number two contender Parker for the vacant title.

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But Parker’s trainer Kevin Barry says he doesn’t see it playing out that way.

“In the background, we’ve been anxiously waiting to see two things – one if the WBO would strip Joshua, or if Joshua would not want anyone else to fight Usyk,” Barry told Sky Sports.

“We’re sitting there at number two in the world with the WBO. If that was going to happen, we were going to get the fight with Usyk that we were very, very keen on and one that we’re very confident in. It’s looking least likely now that fight is going to happen.

“I try to look at every scenario. I talked with [WBO president] Paco [Valcarcel] last week. I just said to him, don’t you think if the WBO took that belt off Joshua, and Parker and Usyk, two former WBO world champions fought each other, then the winner of that fight would fight Joshua in the summer and it would be a unification fight.

“The other option was – would Joshua perceive that as a risk and missing out on a mega payday? I honestly believe what we’re going to see is Usyk [choosing to wait] and he will fight Joshua in the summer, providing Joshua blows out Pulev, which he should look spectacular doing.

“I would love nothing more than the opportunity for us to fight Usyk, but the reality of it is, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

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