Compiled by Rosemary Ekong
The president of the World Boxing Organisation has forced Anthony Joshua into defending his WBO title against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk after winning his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jnr.
The British boxer swept the scorecard with a unanimous 118-110, 118-110, 110-109 verdict to beat Ruiz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts that he lost to Ruiz in New York. But soon after Joshua had exacted his revenge, the WBO president stated that Joshua must take on Ukranian Usyk within 180 days of Saturday’s win.
That means that Joshua will now have to face the prospect of defending his WBO title before June 4th. If he does not agree to meet the Ukrainian former cruiserweight king before then, 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 to celebrate and celebrate hard, Joshua has won Olympic gold for Great Britain and tonight in Saudi he became two times 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’.