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26th Jun 2018

Anthony Joshua ordered to fight Alexander Povetkin, must sign contract within 24 hours

The Wilder fight will have to be put on hold

Darragh Murphy

So it’s Povetkin again?

It was looking like a done deal for Anthony Joshua to fight Alexander Povetkin as recently as two weeks ago but then the pendulum suddenly swung back in Deontay Wilder’s direction after the American announced that he’d agreed terms to fight Joshua in the United Kingdom.

The ongoing negotiation saga between ‘AJ’ and Wilder now looks set to be shelved, for a few months at least, as Joshua has been ordered to sign for a mandatory WBA title defence against Povetkin within 24 hours.

The WBA had allowed Joshua an extra month to attempt to put together the monster unification bout with Wilder but with little headway being made, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza is now demanding a date for Joshua vs. Povetkin.

“Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with the mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin,” Mendoza told Sky Sports.

“The WBA have allowed over a month extension to negotiations with Povetkin and also ongoing discussions with Deontay Wilder.

“It appears the Wilder team have not returned the contract for the fight and therefore we are requesting a date for the Joshua versus Povetkin fight with immediate effect.”

‘AJ’ must now make a massive decision on whether to continue pursuing the Wilder fight as his next outing, which would mean he would have to part ways with his WBA (Super) title, or keep hold of his belt by agreeing to fight Povetkin.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has claimed that Wilder must not actually want the unification fight because of his team’s dawdling over a deal.

Hearn has rejected claims that he refused to clarify two details in the contract sent to Wilder’s manager, Shelly Finkel.

“Let’s just stick to facts. We made them an offer firstly, they didn’t even reply,” Hearn said of the Wilder discussions.

“They made us an offer, we asked to see a contract, they refused to send one.

“We made them another offer, after nearly four weeks they accepted and asked for a contract and we sent them one. If they want the fight they will sign it.”