- A presumably safe title defense in the U.S. against Jarrell Miller prior to a 2019 superfight with WBC Champion Deontay Wilder.
- Fighting Wilder straight away in September, October or November, or
- Facing his WBA mandatory opponent, the menacing Alexander Povetkin, in September, October or November
(Image courtesy of The Boxing Channel)
Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn, dearly wants the first scenario to come to fruition while the third scenario would be the least appealing to him beacuse fighting Povetkin would be a risky endeavor. With all of the hype over a possible Joshua vs Wilder superfight, promoters on both ends want to keep immediate risks to a minimum in order to secure the big-money affair.
As a result, Promoter Hearn has offered Alexander Povetkin a June high stakes, high money showdown with Dillian Whyte hoping the Russians will bite.
Answer: Probably not, unless Hearn offers Team Povetkin some handsome 'step aside' money.
Alexander Povetkin is already the WBA and WBO's top contender and the mandatory challenger of the former. Why would he risk his ranking and a sure title shot against Joshua and/or Wilder by facing another dangerous opponent for less money in a non-title affair?
Moreover, Alex's age (38) is another reason his team is likely to exercise Alex's WBA mandatory status. He's not 22 anymore and his days as a heavyweight powerbroker are numbered.
Andrei Ryabinsky, Povetkin's promoter, told BoxingScene he's engaged in discussions with Hearn and, to no surprise, hinted they want Alex to face Joshua as soon as possible.
"We spoke with [Joshua's promoter] Eddie Hearn," Ryabinsky told BoxingScene.
"We discussed beforehand that the next fight should take place between Povetkin and Joshua, but until the contract is signed, it's too early to talk about it as being something concrete."
"We plan to do it [Joshua vs Povetkin] before the end of the year, probably in the fall," Ryabinsky said.
Counterpoint - Povetkin should wait
Opting to forego a title opportunity now might not be a poor decision because the stakes will be even higher fighting the winner of Joshua vs Wilder (as opposed to Povetkin fighting Joshua next). After all, that fight's winner will be the undisputed champion.
The ultimate question: Would the winner face him? After making history, the winner’s team might choose to vacate the WBA title and insist they don’t need to fight Alex.
Stranger things have happened in boxing.
Should Alex's team insist Joshua vs Povetkin must happen next, Team Joshua will have three options.
- They could meet their WBA obligation and fight Povetkin later this year with or without a rematch stipulation in the event AJ lost
- Offer Team Povetkin 'step aside' money in return for not forcing the WBA to strip Joshua of its title should AJ fight Wilder next instead of Povetkin, and
- Have AJ relinquish the WBA strap and proceed with plans to fight Wilder for 3/4 of the title.
Not having the WBA's involvement wouldn't squash Joshua vs Wilder but without their belt at-stake the fight would no longer have the 'undisputed' distinction which serves as a major selling point.
Boxing hasn't had an undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000. Moreover, no heavyweight champion has simultaneously held four major boxing titles (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) so the winner of Joshua vs Wilder would make history in that sense.... If the WBA title isn't vacated first.
The WBA's non-participation would take some of the 'wind from the sails' of Joshua vs Wilder, but we'd have two unbeaten champions fighting for 3/4 of the heavyweight title so the fight would still generate tremendous buzz and revenue.
... And let's not forget, Joshua vs Povetkin would be an awesome match-up should that happen instead.
At this moment, Hearn is pulling all the strings but Team Povetkin holds a valuable key.
Joshua and Povetkin's last 10 KOs