Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua may have his next three fights already lined up following a WBA announcement this week.
Joshua is currently due mandatories with the IBF, whilst the WBA and WBO are expected to follow suit later in 2019 and early 2020.
The backing up of opponents could have a detrimental effect on hopes the UK fans have of seeing Joshua share the ring with Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury.
Wilder’s stipulation Dominic Breazeale has rightly been told to wait by the World Boxing Council. Whilst the IBF are not set to be as accommodating to Joshua as Kubrat Pulev will be ordered soon.
A four-man tournament has been arranged to settle the WBA side of things. This features ‘regular’ champion Manuel Charr versus Fres Oquendo and Joshua rival Jarrell Miller facing Trevor Bryan.
The winners of those two bouts, set to happen in the spring, will then battle each other in the fall on 2019. Joshua (📸 Lawrence Lustig) will then be expected to meet the victor by the spring of 2020.
This means a total of six fighters are vying for a shot at the current top division ruler.
On the WBO list, Dillian Whyte, the rumored opponent for Joshua’s next outing on April 13, could now be lobbied by promoter Eddie Hearn as a mandatory fight.
Oleksandr Usyk has been mentioned as a prospective WBO mandatory but would be unlikely to accept at the moment.
Whyte would at least clear up one of those three organizations. Although it’s fully expected Pulev will be pushing the IBF for his chance next.
The Bulgarian has already missed out once. Pulev was forced to pull out of an October 2017 clash injured. And at 37 the clock is ticking for him.
So Whyte in April should be followed by Pulev, possibly in September before Miller in March or April of 2020 in the United States.
Should Wilder v Fury II go to plan, the pair should have a trilogy fight by the end of this year.
The eventual WBC belt holder would then be free to trade blows with Joshua in the late summer of fall of 2020.
It all seems a messy situation. One which will have a direct effect on securing the biggest fights at the earliest convenience.
April – Whyte (WBO – possible)
September – Pulev (IBF)
March/April 2020 – Miller (IBF – probable)
Fall of 2020 – Wilder or Fury (Undisputed)
Rematch – Spring 2019
Trilogy – November or December (possible)