Wladimir Klitschko’s sudden retirement has made waves in heavyweight boxing. Klitschko was expected to face Anthony Joshua in a rematch of their monumental title clash. Joshua’s team even requested a mandatory exemption for the IBF title.
This means that he had to ask to face Klitschko before defending the IBF strap against its mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev. Without the exemption he would have been stripped of the title despite being obligated to fight Wladimir due to a rematch clause.
However, Klitschko has opted to retire so Joshua is free to face his mandatories. The reason I use the plural form is a recent piece of news. The WBA have ordered Joshua to defend his WBA belt against Luis Ortiz.
There is also the matter of a call-out from WBC champion, Deontay Wilder. He challenged AJ to a unification fight in Las Vegas. The Tyson Fury fight would have been some time in the future, but after an apparent retirement on Instagram, it may never happen.
So, in a recent interview with IFL TV, Eddie Hearn revealed the potential plan of action. He called it Anthony Joshua’s ‘three fight plan’. Kubrat Pulev has been the mandatory for a year so he will fight AJ first. That bout will take place in October or November.
Luis Ortiz, a dangerous heavy hitter will face Joshua for the WBA title in February or March. The WBA recently ordered Joshua to face Ortiz but he should be allowed the time to face Pulev first so that he can keep both belts. Once the mandatories are out of the way, the unification title clash with Wilder will go down in Summer 2018.
It would seem, Joshua has his hands full before he can chase another high profile championship bout. Fans should be excited to see AJ back in the ring regadless of the opponent.