WORLD heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua is now not expected to fight for a unified title until probably 2022 now as he is now faced with four mandatory title defences which are likely to occupy him over the next two years.
On December 7 last year, Joshua regained the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Organisation, International Boxing Organisation (IBF) and International Boxing Federation titles after beating Mexican-American Andy Ruiz in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. In a unanimous points decision, Joshua reclaimed the four belts he surprisingly lost to Ruiz in June 2019 when they met at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
Joshua is now due to face Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in a mandatory title defence at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20. He will then take on another mandatory commitment, possibly against Oleksandr Usyk, later in 2020.
Over the weekend, things got even busier for Joshua as an unexpected win for Robert Helenius over Adam Kownacki saw the boxer known as the Nordic Nightmare earn a shot at a final eliminator for the WBA heavyweight title. When this is added to the fact ex-foe Charles Martin, who Joshua dominated and crushed early to win his first title belt, recently won an IBF eliminator for the number two spot.
This means Martin, the same as Helenius, is potentially one win or a ratification away from being Joshua’s mandatory for early 2021. With these developments, Joshua, who has his eyes on an ultimate unification fight with World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Tyson Fury, will now have to wait for this fight.
It could be at least 18 months before Britain’s two heavyweights get to clash. Tyson Fury is the main target for Joshua but several lengths of red tape may have to be negotiated in order for the contest to get approval.
Fury himself has a mandatory title defence against the man he beat Detonay Wilder and after that he may have face Dillian Whyte. At the earliest, no fight between Joshua and Fury can take place before the summer of 2021 at the very earliest.