Anthony Joshua’s plan to win two unification fights in 2018 will not be scuppered by obligations to face a WBA mandatory challenger, promoter Eddie Hearn insisted.
Joshua is aiming to add Joseph Parker’s WBO heavyweight title and Deontay Wilder’s WBC belt to his collection, but knows he must eventually put his own WBA ‘super’ gold on the line against a contender yet to be named by the organisation.
With whoever is made WBA mandatory, would there be an exception made for a unification fight? Yes, is the answer, Hearn told Sky Sports.
Joshua is deep in negotiations to meet Parker in his next fight and hopes to face Wilder in the summer, but Hearn accepts they would probably not be able to avoid delaying their WBA mandatory until 2019.
I’m due to speak to [WBA president] Gilberto Mendoza, who may come to the UK in December, Hearn said.
Luis Ortiz was the mandatory but has been banned so there will be a new one.
Manuel Charr has won the ‘regular’ title but they are not looking at him as a mandatory challenger.
Alexander Povetkin is fighting Christian Hammer which could be the final eliminator to be Joshua’s mandatory.
Russia’s Povetkin has lost just once in 33 fights (to Wladimir Klitschko four years ago) and previously held the WBA ‘regular’ belt. He notably stopped Carlos Takam, Joshua’s most recent challenger, but the status of his upcoming fight against Hammer has not yet been confirmed by the WBA.
We have spoken about Joshua vs Povetkin, and the likelihood of that, Hearn said. We have a really good relationship with World of Boxing, who are his promoters.
They have a situation where they can fight a final eliminator to be the mandatory for Joshua, or for the WBO, so they are making that decision now.
Olympic gold medallist Povetkin will have a suspension lifted in December by the WBC after two failed drug tests, which cost him a scheduled challenge against Wilder.
Meanwhile, Kubrat Pulev, who was scheduled to challenge Joshua as his IBF mandatory before withdrawing to make way for Takam, holds a lofty position in the WBA rankings.
[Pulev] is still, I would say, [one of the] top three or four heavyweights out there at the moment, so the AJ fight is not forgotten, said his promoter Nisse Sauerland.