Anthony Joshua will unexpectedly keep hold of his World Boxing Organization title after confirming a mandatory defense for the International Boxing Federation.
Joshua was originally given a choice between facing number one contender Oleksandr Usyk or the IBF’s counterpart in Kubrat Pulev. The decision came on the back of both calling their stipulations at the same time.
Prior to losing his straps to Andy Ruiz Jr. in devastating fashion last June, AJ had been ordered to battle Pulev next. Following Ruiz dropping and stopping Joshua to inflict a first loss on his record, an immediate rematch took place.
Regaining the straps against an overweight Ruiz in a superior boxing display, Joshua’s further delay meant the WBO then joined the mandatory fore.
Eventually, after some debate, Joshua chose Pulev. It was then thought the WBO would strip Joshua, or at the very least he’d vacate for Usyk. This obviously hasn’t been the case.
A deal between Joshua, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and WBO President Paco Valcarcel has seemingly been reached.
It’s not known whether Joshua will drop the title after the Pulev battle or then move immediately forward with the Usyk encounter.
More will be revealed after this summer’s blockbuster at Tottenham Stadium. Joshua cannot wait for the first bell.
“On June 20, I am defending my heavyweight world titles,” stated Joshua as the Pulev collision was confirmed.
“I’m back in my home city after some time away. A spectacular stadium has been built in North London.
“I’m honored to bring the boxing community from all over the world. To witness us make history with the stadium’s first heavyweight world title fight.
“The belts go back up in the air and nothing will stop me from being victorious,” he added.
Bulgarian Pulev, much-fancied for the upset by his handler Bob Arum, is bidding – like Ruiz was – to become his home country’s first top division ruler.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to show the world how strong I really am,” said the veteran.
“Becoming a Heavyweight World Champion has always been my mission in life. On June 20, 2020, I will fulfill my destiny!”