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Joshua receives mandatory defense exception

The IBF ruling clears the way for Anthony Joshua to make his contractual rematch with Wladimir Klitschko.

Boxing at Wembley Stadium Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua has cleared one hurdle standing in the way of a prospective rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. While Klitschko has yet to announce whether he’ll actually enforce his contractual rematch clause with Joshua, Joshua’s team is proceeding as if that will in fact be the case, reports ESPN.

And in order to safeguard Joshua’s IBF title belt, his team made a request with the sanctioning body for a mandatory title defense exception — a request the IBF has now granted as of yesterday evening.

Joshua is due to defend his IBF belt against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, but most expect that the 41-year-old Klitschko won’t retire and will ask for a second helping of Joshua, to whom he lost a close and thrilling fight in front of 90,000 screaming fans at Wembley Stadium this past April.

But even with the mandatory exception in place, any rematch between Joshua and Klitschko will have to take place by December 2nd, with the winner having to take on Pulev in their next outing — with no title unification able to supersede that mandatory defense.

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