After the Liverpudlian was stopped in the eighth round in his final fight, Bellew told Hearn that Usyk may not be ready for Joshua just yet but the Ukrainian’s promoter said he “definitely” needs to fight the heavyweight champion.
Usyk signed a short agreement with Hearn’s Matchroom promotion company, who promote Joshua, but Hearn says he has some work to do before taking on the WBO, WBA and IBF champion.
“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.”
Having seen off Bellew in devastating fashion, Hearn believes that there is little incentive for Usyk to remain in the cruiserweight division.
“I still think he’ll move to heavyweight, because if he doesn’t, who are the fights?” Hearn added.
“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.”
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