Anthony Joshua vs the World: If Wladimir Won’t Fight, Pulev, Povetkin, Ortiz, and Others Will
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Here ye, here ye. Dr. Wladimir Klitschko has retired, and will not be exercising the mandatory rematch clause option in his contract to fight Anthony Joshua for a share of the world heavyweight title again. Neither fame, pride, ego nor money could convince Klitschko of his big ‘chance’ in such a rematch for the WBA Super, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight titles.
Joshua will not be facing the still missing and problematic Tyson Fury in the near future, whose chatter of a comeback has not yet materialized but could still occur, and if and when it does, will be Joshua’s most significant evenly matched challenge. Title unification bouts with WBC World champion Deontay Wilder, or Joseph Parker, the 23-0 WBO World champion, will require bigger contractual agreements and paydays for both sides. Parker will face Manchester’s 20-0 Hughie Fury in Manchester on September 23. If Hughie Fury wins, he could become a lucrative and attractive local challenge for Joshua while cousin Tyson is inactive.
25-1 Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev becomes the world ranked mandatory challenger for Joshua.
Pulev currently holds the WBA Inter-Continental Heavyweight title.
25-0 Lucas Browne of New South Wales, Australia, who has held the WBA world title, is another highly regarded possibility. 27-0 Luis Ortiz, a Cuban fighting out of Miami, Florida, with 23 knockouts, has held the interim WBA World title and is still waiting for an opportunity. 29-2-1 Tony Bellew, a former WBC Cruiserweight champion (who has beaten David Haye) hails from Liverpool in the UK and represents a formidable UK challenger. Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Briggs, 60-6-1, Brooklyn, New York, is a distant possibility. Inactive over a year, Briggs, who talks a good game, knows Joshua, and is appealing a VADA positive test for elevated levels of testosterone which has held up his vacant WBA title bout with Fres Oquendo, with Alexander Ustinov, now scheduled to get the opportunity to fight Oquendo instead if Briggs appeal is lost. Briggs might take a big payday.
Former WBA World Heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin, 32-1, Chekhov, Russia, who has lost by decision in a title unification match only to Wladimir Klitschko, and who currently holds the WBO International and WBA Continental, remains the best possibility. At 37, Povetkin has the drive, ability, work ethic and heart. At 6’2”, though, Povetkin lacks the high height to defeat the tall super heavyweights who have dominated the division. A positive test for Meldonium caused Povetkin’s scheduled WBC titular May 21, 2017 clash with Deontay Wilder in Moscow, Russia, to get cancelled. Wilder and World of Boxing LLC filed a 5 million dollar lawsuit against Povetkin for his promised purse. Povetkin, who remains in Russia, to his advantage, has not come to the United States, nor paid Mr. Wilder a nickel.
There are always rising star fighters in the heavyweight division knocking at the door to greatness. One such prospect, 16-0 Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki, is not ready for a world title shot at Joshua yet, but could be a force to reckon with in the heavyweight future.