The situation at heavyweight just got a little more complication due to a stunning victory for Mexico’s first ever top division champion Andy Ruiz Jr.
Prior to Saturday night’s unbelievable stoppage, Anthony Joshua was due a mandatory order to face the IBF’s number one contender Kubrat Pulev.
That clash was expected to take place in November on UK soil. Ruiz has blown that plan completely out of the water.
Instead, Ruiz is set to replace Pulev. The new ruler will meet Joshua in a rematch of their New York battle at Madison Square Garden. A clause in the contract has made sure of that.
So what now for the International Boxing Federation?
Well, it seems the organization will not mess about. This is given the fact that they moved to strip Tyson Fury so quickly back in 2015.
Fury had just defeated Wladimir Klitschko in a career-best performance to take four heavyweight straps, similar to Ruiz. Although within a short time frame, the IBF stipulated a second fight with Klitschko could not take place with their belt on the line.
The stipulation was a title shot for Vyacheslav Glazkov, who then fought and lost to Charles Martin once Fury vacated.
As it turns out, the Fury v Klitschko return never took place anyway. It left Joshua free to mop up all the remaining straps.
Now, fast forward to June 2019 and the IBF would seemingly have no hesitation making the same move.
This means Ruiz would have to defend his red belt against Pulev BEFORE trading blows with Joshua again. If he doesn’t, Ruiz, like Fury, would be relieved of the title.
Money would almost certainly dictate and make the decision an easy one for Ruiz. The 29 year-old is likely to accept any IBF decision and push on to AJ a crown lighter.
Therefore, Ruiz v Joshua II would be for the WBO, IBO and WBA belts. Pulev would then be put forward for the IBF title as the mandatory.
Who would Pulev face?
The current number two position in the rankings in unoccupied, whilst Agit Kabayel is next in line.
Given that Pulev is a stablemate of Fury and the pair are already on a collision course, Top Rank boss Bob Arum could indeed move to lobby for ‘The Gypsy King’ to be given the chance to regain his old title.
IBF bosses owe the Briton one for the way he was treated four years ago, given that Fury never actually lost the belt inside the ring.
Facing Tom Schwarz on June 15, Fury has three bouts lined up before a Deontay Wilder rematch.
Fury v Pulev (the third of those three Wilder interim fights) would be easy to make and give fans a huge contest on ESPN Pay-Per-View and BT Sport Box Office.
You can add some extra spice with the notion Pulev recently inflicted a second loss of Fury’s cousin Hughie.
A revenge win for Fury over Pulev, of course then adds another championship to the Wilder fight in February. Wilder v Fury II becomes a massive unification clash.
All depends on what course of action the IBF take in the coming days and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay