Anthony Joshua is already set to take care of his WBA mandatory title defense on September 22 against Alexander Povetkin, but if he wins, he could face yet another mandatory challenge in his next bout, this one from the WBO.
Sky Sports received a statement from the sanctioning body:
“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 fulfil his mandatory defence obligations. ... 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.”
Joshua (21-0, 20 KO) has the WBO, WBA, and IBF titles in his possession. There’s already an IBF eliminator set for October 27 in Bulgaria between Kubrat Pulev and Hughie Fury.
Whyte, ranked No. 2 by the sanctioning body, could well be ordered into a WBO eliminator, or the sanctioning body could make him mandatory challenger. Their No. 1-ranked contender is Povetkin, who would fall with a loss, plus Whyte now has the WBO international title, which Povetkin held before.
Jarrell Miller is at No. 3, followed by Tom Schwarz, Dominic Breazeale, Joseph Parker, Kyotaro Fujimoto, Bryant Jennings, Agit Kabayel, and Tyrone Sprong. Those rankings are as of July 2018. Parker lost to Whyte on July 28, so the next set of rankings could differ somewhat.
All of this makes it easy to understand why getting a unified champion in modern boxing is one thing, but keeping multiple belts for a sustained period of time is a lot tougher. You have various organizations to keep happy, and they’re all going to look out for their own best interests first and foremost.
It does help to be one of boxing’s biggest and most bankable stars, though, so Joshua conceivably could be given an exception if a deal were made to face WBC champion Deontay Wilder next April, or Tyson Fury, for that matter, if Fury were to fight and beat Wilder later this year.
But you really never know. You wouldn’t have necessarily thought the IBF would strip Gennady Golovkin for a Daniel Jacobs-Sergiy Derevyanchenko vacant title fight, either, particularly ahead of a massive money clash with Canelo Alvarez, but they did.