In a rather unexpected move the WBA has officially given unified heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua a 24-hour deadline to sign a deal to face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. The move inherently undermines a proposed undisputed unification fight with Deontay Wilder which was anticipated to be signed by this Friday.
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza issued this statement on the matter via Sky Sports:
“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.”
Now Joshua seemingly has to decide quickly if he wants to take care of his mandatory defense immediately or risk losing one of his belts to pursue a Wilder fight towards the end of the year. The latter is highly unlikely.
Eddie Hearn, who has accused Deontay Wilder of playing games and drawing out their negotiations, says he doesn’t understand what’s taking Wilder’s team so long to get back to them on his proposal and it’s now looking like that fight won’t be next.
“It’s very, very frustrating and right now it looks like Povetkin is next.”
Many fans believe Hearn wasn’t keen on having Joshua take on Wilder this soon anyway, so this WBA decision gives him a built-in excuse to push the fight with Wilder off until 2019 without claiming fault. But what say you, fans?