Joshua vs Ruiz 2 winner likely to face Kubrat Pulev next
The IBF is being quite indignant these days.
Last year, the organization stripped Gennady Golovkin of its title for not facing a then-little known mandatory. And several weeks ago, they stripped Canelo Alvarez of the same title for passing on the same opponent.
Last week, the IBF threatened to strip the winner of the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz if a) that fight doesn't take place by December 7 and b) the winner doesn't face its mandatory opponent, Kubrat Pulev, next.
“The winner of that fight (Joshua vs Ruiz 2) must ... agree in writing to face number-one contender Kubrat Pulev (with the bout to take place) on or before May 31, 2020," IBF spokesperson Jeanette Salazar told BoxingScene.com yesterday.
The WBA and WBO titles will also be at-stake when Joshua and Ruiz fight again in December; And don't expect the winner to complain about facing Pulev next because he's a better risk vs reward option than Oleksandr Usyk who is rated Nos. 1 and 2 by the WBO and WBA, respectively.
Will the WBO strip the winner for opting to fight Pulev instead of Usyk?
Even after defending against Pulev, the winner of Joshua vs Ruiz 2 might still pass on Usyk if his team concludes its fighter doesn't need to have 3 belts to maintain his popularity and credibility. If that happens and the WBO makes the title vacant, we could see Usyk against Tyson Fury or Dillian Whyte for the WBO strap.
Regardless, Pulev and Usyk are sitting pretty at the moment. Kubrat is likely to get a title shot in May 2020 and Usyk, also the WBA's No.2 contender, has to figure into the title picture sometime next year, especially if the Joshua vs Wilder doesn't take place.