WBO orders Joshua to defend title against Usyk
Anthony Joshua has officially been ordered by the World Boxing Organisation to defend his WBO title against mandatory challenger, Oleksandr Usyk, reports dailymail.co.uk.
Joshua won his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr last weekend after sweeping the scorecard with a unanimous 118-110, 118-110, 110-109 verdict to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts that he lost to the Mexican in New York.
But following his emphatic victory in Saudi Arabia, the WBO president has stated that Joshua must take on Ukranian Usyk within 180 days of Saturday’s win.
The WBO confirmed: ‘The WBO World Championship Committee hereby orders the parties herein commencement of negotiations for the above-mentioned WBO heavyweight mandatory championship contest.
“Please be advised that the parties have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to reach an agreement.
“If an accord is not reached within the time frame set forth herein, a purse bid will be ordered pursuant with the WBO regulations of world championship contests.’
That means that Joshua will now have to face the prospect of defending his WBO title before June 4.
If he does not agree to meet the Ukrainian former cruiserweight king before January 10, he will be forced to vacate his belt, dealing a setback to his hopes of adding the WBC crown.
If Joshua does vacate his belt, Usyk could face either Dereck Chisora or Joseph Parker for the strap, which would divide the belts further across the division.
The Ukranian has conquered the cruiserweight division and made his long-awaited step up in weight in October when he stopped Chazz Witherspoon in the seventh round.
While the WBO president has pushed Joshua into fighting Usyk before early June, the British boxer’s promoter, Eddie Hearn didn’t say as to what fight would next be on the cards for his fighter.
He said: ‘The future plans are celebrate and celebrate hard, Joshua has won Olympic gold for great Britain and tonight in Saudi he became two time heavyweight champion of the world.
“Tonight he is the guvnor of the division, give him the respect he deserves.”
Joshua himself however did declare his interest in a third deciding bout between himself and Ruiz shortly after becoming a two-time World Heavyweight Champion.
“If you heard – we’re gonna do a third,” Joshua said in his post-match interview.
On the matter, Ruiz also added: “I don’t want to give excuses. If we do the third I’ll be in the best shape of my life.
“I thought I was going to come on stronger but next fight I’ll get prepared and look at my team.”