The world is waiting to see if the undisputed heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk can be finalised.
It means the leading contenders in the division are also waiting to see where their opportunities might arise.
French heavyweight, Olympic gold medallist Tony Yoka looks to recover his position when he fights former world title challenger Carlos Takam on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
After beating Yoka last year Martin Bakole is highly ranked at world level. But promoter Ben Shalom believes that he will need to push for a final eliminator to get a title shot.
“He is in a position where he feels no one wants to fight him and he’s going to have to rely on being mandatory,” Shalom told Sky Sports.
Bakole has sparred Usyk intensively and so has tested himself against the unified WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion.
“I’ve spoken to Alex Krassyuk [Usyk’s promoter] a few weeks ago and he believes Martin Bakole outside of Tyson Fury is the toughest opponent and the toughest fighter out there which says everything about what he can do in the division,” Shalom said.
“We have to hope that this unification gets made and things can start moving because I think that every fighter in the heavyweight division dreams of becoming a world champion, wants to fight for a world title and I think that’s why everyone’s hoping that this gets made, and if it doesn’t then we move on quickly.”
Shalom added: “I know Oleksandr loves using Martin [as a sparring partner]. They know each other very well. I don’t think even Oleksandr Usyk wants to fight Martin Bakole. Because Martin Bakole knows him very well and Oleksandr Usyk knows how good Martin is.
“I’m excited to get him going because he’s never had any sort of regular activity. He’ll fight in April, we’ll see him on Sky and by that point we will know hopefully what’s happening with the unification and we can see whether Martin’s in line to fight for a final eliminator or a world title next.”
The WBA rate Bakole as the leading heavyweight contender after Britain’s Daniel Dubois. It means Bakole could eventually force a shot at the WBA’s regular title, a belt that is secondary to Usyk’s full championship but which is currently held by Britain’s Daniel Dubois.
“Martin Bakole’s right behind Dubois,” Shalom explained. “Daniel would like to fight Martin Bakole for the WBA regular title and if not it depends on whether Daniel is fit, I know he was injured last fight. Once Usyk-Fury’s decided then I think everyone can move forward.”
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Until then neither of them will take themselves out of the running in case Usyk all of a sudden finds himself looking for a new opponent.
“Who knows as to whether that [Fury-Usyk] fight gets made,” Shalom said but added: “I think the whole of the heavyweight division, given that it’s a unification of all of the belts, has been waiting on this.”
Tony Yoka fights Carlos Takam on March 11 live on Sky Sports. Watch Sky Sports via NOW
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