Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed three potential names for Anthony Joshua’s scheduled return to action in March 2018.
The Matchroom boss, who watched on as ‘AJ’ extended his pro run to 20 stoppages from 20 wins against Carlos Takam on Saturday night, is already planning to fulfill an obligation to the World Boxing Association.
Joshua was due to fight Luis Ortiz previously until the Cuban accepted an offer to fight Deontay Wilder before eventually being dropped due to medication being taken for high blood pressure.
Ortiz is currently awaiting the outcome of a WBC investigation into his VADA test failure, although could switch back to fighting for the WBA belt where he’s currently number one in the ratings.
As Hearn ratified, the WBA are also considering a final eliminator between Alexander Povetkin and Christian Hammer, therefore Joshua is likely to meet either one of those three next spring.
“My instructions from Anthony are that we want to retain all the belts,” Hearn explained to the London Evening Standard.
“The WBA convention is going on right now and they are talking about possibly ordering an eliminator between Povetkin and Hammer for late December.
“That could mean AJ making a mandatory defence of the WBA in belt in March. If Ortiz appeals against his ban and is successful, it might take him longer to get ready for a mandatory challenge. So then that could be in the summer.”
At the post-fight press conference attended by WBN late on Saturday night, Joshua himself stated the importance of completing every mandatory stipulation.
“I’m just focusing on keeping my belts. Whoever that is in the WBA list, that is who I have to fight unless I am told otherwise,” he said.
“Do I give up belts so I get can get one particular fight. If I did, then after that it’s what do I do now?
“My next three fights will include an obligation where I have to defend the WBA belt. This is about the next 15 fights, the next five or 10 years. It’s a long-term strategy. I want to keep my belts by any means.”
This means any potential encounters with fellow title holders Joseph Parker or Deontay Wilder are on the backburner until the WBA situation is sorted out.