By Keith Idec
The WBA ordered Anthony Joshua on Tuesday to make a deal to fight mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin within 24 hours.
Gilberto Mendoza, president of the Panama-based sanctioning organization, issued that order because the WBA doesn’t want to wait any longer for a deal to be consummated between Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) and WBC champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) for a heavyweight title unification fight. Sky Sports first reported the WBA’s 24-hour order to complete a Joshua-Povetkin deal.
A Joshua-Wilder showdown would be one of the biggest fights in boxing and would make much more money than the mandated Joshua-Povetkin bout, but Joshua’s mandatory defense is overdue.
The WBA granted Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, 30 additional days last month to make a deal for the Wilder fight or his mandatory defense versus Povetkin. As of Tuesday morning, Wilder’s handlers hadn’t returned a signed contract for a fight against Joshua.
“Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin,” Mendoza said in a statement issued Tuesday. “The WBA [has] 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.”
England’s Joshua, 28, also owns the IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight titles.
The 38-year-old Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) defeated England’s David Price (22-5, 18 KOs) by fifth-round knockout in his most recent fight. That bout took place on the Joshua-Joseph Parker undercard March 31 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Russia’s Povetkin, a former WBA heavyweight champion, has lost only a 12-round unanimous decision to Wladimir Klitschko in their title unification fight in October 2013 in Moscow.
Since suffering that lopsided loss to Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs), Povetkin has twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. His first failure led to the cancelation of his WBC-mandated fight with Wilder in May 2016.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.