Joshua to Defend WBO Title after Povetkin’s Clash



Anthony Joshua could be called to fulfill a WBO mandatory title defence following his Wembley fight with Alexander Povetkin.

The WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion will defend his titles against WBA mandatory challenger Povetkin on September 22, and the WBO have confirmed they could then order the British star to face one of their contenders.

But there are a number of options for Joshua’s next fight at the national stadium on April 13, with the unified champion still seeking the WBC belt, currently held by Deontay Wilder, while he could also grant a rematch to Dillian Whyte, who is one of the highest-ranked contenders by the WBO.

A WBO statement to Sky Sports read: “With respect to our WBO heavyweight champion Mr. Anthony Joshua, be advised that Joshua has 180 days counting from the date of his last compulsory defence (after the Alexander Povetkin bout) to fulfill his mandatory defence obligations.”

Whyte holds the WBO international belt and a No 2 WBO ranking, just behind Povetkin, although the governing body could not confirm whether he would be ordered to take part in a final eliminator fight.

The statement continued: “Be advised that at this time the WBO has yet to determine if a WBO heavyweight elimination contest will be ordered.

“Further, the involvement of our WBO international heavyweight champion Mr. Dillian Whyte in a WBO heavyweight elimination bout is uncertain.”

The IBF have already ordered a final eliminator between Kubrat Pulev and Hughie Fury, which is due to take place in Bulgaria on October 27, with the winner becoming mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF belt.

But before Joshua can consider his future plans, he must firstly overcome the dangerous Povetkin, and promoter Andrey Ryabinsky is delighted with the Russian’s preparations.

“Everything is going by the plan,” Ryabinsky told Sky Sports. “We’re looking forward to a great event on September 22.”