Nigerian-born heavyweight king Anthony Joshua has been ordered by the WBA to sign for a mandatory title defence against Alexander Povetkin “within 24 hours” or forfeit his belt.
This comes amid negotiations for a blockbuster heavyweight clash between Joshua and WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
Wilder has yet to return a contract for a massive unification fight with Joshua for all the world heavyweight belts and the WBA has wielded the big stick, ordering Joshua to instead fulfil his title obligations to Povetkin.
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza had granted Joshua an extra month to continue talks for a fight with Wilder, but with a deal proving elusive, he has called on AJ to finalise a bout with mandatory challenger Povetkin.
Gilberto Mendoza said: “Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with the mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin.
“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.”
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said his fighter was “frustrated” over the time it was taking to reach an agreement with Wilder’s team.
“We can’t do a lot more than we are doing,” he told Sky Sports.
“Anthony is frustrated. We sent the contract nine days ago. Nothing makes sense here at all. They know we’re under pressure from the WBA. It feels like a big game.
“He wants to fight Wilder but at the same time we are not going to lose a belt to the WBA.
“Right now it looks like Povetkin is next but anything can happen in this sport.”
some likely conclusions have been speculated by BBC radio Boxing correspondent Mike Costello:
As Eddie Hearn has been in parallel negotiations with representatives of Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin – and there have been significant developments in the past 24 hours – in a long-running wrangle, Wilder’s team have said the latest version of their fight contract will be returned to Hearn by Friday of this week.
But now the WBA has given Hearn a deadline of only 24 hours to confirm a date for a fight against Povetkin. Hearn had said recently that a likely scenario for Joshua would be to face Povetkin later this year and Wilder in the early part of next year.