By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
ANTHONY JOSHUA could have to face Luis Ortiz early next year despite the Cuban boxer testing positive for banned substances last month.
IBF, IBO and WBA heavyweight champion Joshua defends his titles against Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev on October 28 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
But Ortiz could retain the mandatory challenger position for the British star’s WBA title despite a failed drugs test.
Ortiz was due to face WBC champion Deontay Wilder next month until he failed an anti-doping test for hydrochlorothiazide and chlorothiazide.
The substances are on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list as “masking agents” but Ortiz’s team have claimed the failed test was because of his medication for high-blood pressure.
But he did not have a therapeutic use exemption for the testing procedure, which was conducted under the WBC clean-boxing programme by Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Ortiz can still have his B-sample tested and VADA are awaiting a response from his team, although they are confident he will be cleared.
But the WBC has already called the clash with Wilder off, with the American now set to face Bermane Stiverne instead on November 4.
However, even if Ortiz’s B-sample comes back positive it still doesn’t mean he will be suspended by the WBA and boxing still has no worldwide governing body banning those who fail drugs tests.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said: “I don’t know what’s happening. WBC say they won’t sanction the fight, Ortiz’s lot say they are about to be cleared.
“The WBA have to rule on their position, they might have to install him as the mandatory.”
Joshua is set to fight abroad early next year with Las Vegas, Nigeria and the Middle East all vying to stage one of his fights before a unification clash with either Wilder or WBO champion Joseph Parker in the summer.
Chris Eubank’s World Boxing Super Series semi-final against WBA super-middleweight champion George Groves or Jamie Cox could be staged at Craven Cottage in January.
The event’s promoter, Kalle Sauerland, is planning talks with Fulham this week despite the likelihood of poor weather and freezing temperatures for an outdoor fight at that time of year.
Wembley Arena is also on hold for January 20 as an indoor option.