Thursday 21 September 2017

Anthony Joshua rematch with Wladimir Klitschko pencilled in for October at Cardiff's Principality Stadium

Declan Taylor

Welsh rugby could have an impact on Anthony Joshua's next move with scheduled autumn internationals putting the boot into the initial plans for a November return.

It is looking highly likely that the IBF and WBA heavyweight champion will face Wladimir Klitschko in an immediate rematch after their enthralling classic at Wembley last month.

Klitschko, who dropped Joshua in the sixth but was stopped himself in the 11th, is expected to trigger the rematch clause in the initial fight contract with a return in the process of being organised.

A post-war record crowd of 90,000 packed into the national stadium to watch the fight but staging an outdoor clash in the autumn is more problematic.

As such, the Principality Stadium in Cardiff is considered the frontrunner to host the rematch, should it take place in the UK, because of the retractable roof.

But, with Wales in action at home for four consecutive weekends across November and December, promoter Eddie Hearn has ear-marked 28 October as the most viable date for a fight in the Welsh capital.

He said: “I believe Klitschko will go ahead with the rematch so we are looking at dates.

“The Principality Stadium is not really available in November because of rugby so 28 October is the option. Most of December is available but I don't really want to go that late.

“Josh has a bit of a sore shoulder, Klitschko has had a tough fight, his face was bashed up. You have got two more weeks in May, all of June and after that they will be thinking 'right let's get back in camp'.

“Even if you started back in camp in August, then you have September and October so end of October can work.”

Due to expected ticket demand for any rematch, it appears that Cardiff remains the only viable option should the fight be staged in the United Kingdom.

But Hearn is also exploring the option of staging the fight overseas, which would make the 28 October date more flexible.

He added: “For Cardiff that date is an option and also December but I don't really want to go into December so we are looking at the MGM in Las Vegas, China and Dubai as options too.”

Meanwhile, the situation regarding his mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev remains unclear. The IBF ordered that the Wembley winner had to face the Bulgarian next or risk losing the belt without being beaten for it.

The same thing happened to Tyson Fury after he dethroned Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 when the governing body stripped him of the title as he was contractually obliged to face Klitschko in a rematch instead of mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov.

I don't really want to go into December so we are looking at the MGM in Las Vegas, China and Dubai as options too. Eddie Hearn

As such, the IBF appear obliged to strip Joshua should he sidestep Pulev and take on the more lucrative and prestigious option of a Klitschko return. But Hearn, who enjoys a good relationship with Pulev's Sauerland promotional team, remains relaxed about the situation.

“We are probably going to put a [mandatory] exception request in to fight Klitschko,” he said. “Then it's up to the IBF whether they grant it.

“One of the things that is important is that if Sauerland object to that - but if Joshua stripped of the title then Pulev would have to fight Carlos Takam for the vacant belt.

“Sauerland don't want to object. I speak to Kalle Sauerland all the time so I'm confident it will get worked out.

“We are presuming Klitschko wants the rematch and that is what I believe. I believe he will.”

Independent News Service

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