Anthony Joshua looks likely to face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in September after the WBA issued a statement saying he had 24 hours to agree a deal or risk losing his belt.
The Daily Mail reports that WBA, WBO and IBF holder Joshua is in negotiations with American boxer Deontay Wilder about a unified heavyweight title clash, but the WBC champion is yet to sign a deal to fight the British star.
The delayed negotiations with Wilder has forced the WBA to issue a deadline of 24 hours for Joshua’s team to set up a bout with Russian Povetkin. Quoted by the BBC, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said: “Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with the mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin.
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“The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder.
“It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua versus Povetkin fight with immediate effect.”
‘It feels like a big game’
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, the boss of Matchroom Boxing, admits he has been frustrated by Wilder’s team regarding the negotiations for a potential unification fight.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hearn said: “I think they [the WBA] have just said enough is enough. I think Povetkin’s people are getting extremely restless as well. They have been waiting and to be fair to them, they have been patient, but [WBA president] Gilberto Mendoza has clearly decided enough is enough and we’ve got to move.”
On Joshua’s two potential opponents, Hearn added: “He [Joshua] knows that Povetkin is an extremely tough fight. Deontay Wilder is another fight that he wants badly. We can’t do a lot more than we’re doing. I think Anthony is frustrated that he feels, people feel he might not want this fight. He wants that fight more than anything.
“We sent the contract [to Wilder] nearly nine days ago now. We’re not even necessarily expecting a signed contract back. We just want your comments. If my fighter wanted a fight, and we received a contract, I would be back with the comments within 24 hours.
“They know we’re under pressure from the WBA and it all feels like a big game, to be honest with you. It’s very, very frustrating and right now it looks like Povetkin is next.”
Sky Sports reports that a Joshua vs. Povetkin fight would happen in September. Hearn said: “If it is Alexander Povetkin, it will be in September, that’s for sure, and then we fight Wilder straight after, if he signs a contract.
“But the way they are going at the moment, I can’t tell you whether this contract gets signed in 10 days or 10 years.”
Meanwhile, Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel has told ESPN that the contracts were being sent back to Hearn with a number of “small changes”.
Finkel said: “I’m sending him back the contracts with a couple of notes. Hopefully, there is no problem and we’ll sign right after the changes are made.”
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