The International Boxing Federation have informed WBN that Anthony Joshua must agree a deal to fight Joseph Parker by December 9 in order to complete his mandatory duties to the organisation.
However, when asked if Joshua would be allowed more time to possibly face another foe on his return at the end of the year, IBF Chairman Lindsey Tucker was open to the idea of considering any request.
Joshua, 26, recently signed a deal with Showtime in the US, and after thoroughly impressing on the network last weekend, may well want to build on his brand by taking on another America-friendly foe.
Any exemption that is granted for Joshua, to potentially battle IBF ranked Bermane Stiverne or Eric Molina, would only serve to delay the fight though as New Zealander Parker has to be given his shot by the spring of 2017 – at the latest.
“The IBF will notify Joshua on November 9, 2016 to start negotiations with Parker. They will be given 30 days to reach an agreement. If no agreement, the IBF will call for a Purse Bid,” Tucker exclusively told World Boxing News on Wednesday.
“In the meantime, Joshua can fight anyone in the top 15 in another optional defense as long as it is completed before November 9, 2016.
“Also, every champion can ask for a unification. The unification will take priority over the mandatory, and every champion can ask for an exception.
“It doesn’t mean that the IBF Board of Directors will grant the exception. However, if an exception is granted, it is always with the condition that the winner must fight the mandatory challenger next.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn has already mentioned the possibility of Parker being chosen for Joshua’s second defense of the red belt, although the power of influence Showtime holds will ultimately sway the decision either way.
Should Showtime decide that undefeated Parker – a relatively unknown on the world scene, is of no interest, Hearn faces a big decision and may have no option but to delay the mandatory until the March or April of 2017.
On the other hand, ‘AJ’ is being lined up for a US debut – potentially in the summer of next year, so may need to get Parker out of the way as fast as possible in order to free himself up to make a first trip across the Atlantic.
Plenty of big fights are on the table for Joshua over the next twelve months, with WBC ruler Deontay Wilder, former two-weight world champion David Haye, ex-British belt holder David Price and top division legend Wladimir Klitschko just some of the other names in the mix.