Talk of Anthony Joshua possibly facing alternative opponents like Andy Ruiz Jr. means an imminent split to the world heavyweight championship.
That’s if the Londoner avoids a recently reiterated mandatory.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has begun his usual media rounds on the back of an undisputed clash with Tyson Fury failing to materialize.
Fury moves on to a contracted third collision with Wilder, set to take place in Las Vegas this summer.
The consensus was Oleksandr Usyk would be automatically in the opposite corner to AJ for his next fight. According to Hearn, this scenario may not be the case, but it remains the hot favorite.
Former opponent Andy Ruiz Jr. has made contact. At the same time, Hearn considers whether the third fight with Ruiz or a battle with two-time Wilder foe Luis Ortiz would fit for an American redemption jaunt.
When Joshua fought on US soil, he got battered by Ruiz in a shock result at Madison Square Garden. With Ruiz back in the best shape of his life, a trilogy of his own would make sense.
Ruiz was a shell of himself when Joshua took back his titles in Saudi Arabia. With Canelo trainer Eddy Reynoso by his side, the Mexican-American would be a different proposition for AJ.
If Joshua goes down either of these alternate routes to Usyk, the WBO will take away their title for the Ukrainian to contest with UK title-holder Joe Joyce.
Alternatively, Joshua may look to Dillian Whyte for a rematch of their bad-blooded 2015 encounter. It’s believed that Joshua needs two considerations for Wembley or The O2 Arena. Whyte fits the bill in this capacity.
Whoever gets the nod has ramifications for the belts – unless it’s Usyk, of course.
Any deviation from the former cruiserweight king takes away any real chance of an undisputed fight with Fury in 2022 or beyond.
ANDY RUIZ JR
At present, it seems to be only a lucrative clash with Ruiz that could derail the Usyk fight. Ruiz is back in the win column. He looked in tremendous shape in returning from defeat to AJ in Diriyah.
With another training camp behind him, bookies might find it difficult to split Joshua and Ruiz, who hold one victory each in very different circumstances.