Unified cruiserweight champ Usyk moves to heavyweight

The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) -- The undisputed world cruiserweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, is finally moving up to heavyweight.

The Ukrainian fighter said he's vacated the WBA cruiserweight title rather than fight challenger Denis Lebedev, in a video statement on the WBA's Instagram feed Thursday.

''That fight will not happen because I and my team have decided to move up to heavyweight,'' Usyk said. ''I'm vacating the belt. I don't want to just have it, so let the guys fight for it.''

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It wasn't immediately clear if he's vacating the IBF, WBC, and WBO belts.

Usyk unified the cruiserweight division in July by beating Murat Gassiev and immediately said he could move up to heavyweight. However, he defended his cruiserweight titles by knocking out British fighter Tony Bellew in November.

Usyk, the 2012 Olympic champion at heavyweight, has a 16-0 pro record, 12 by knockout. Usyk is a native of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, but has continued to represent Ukraine.

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