Monday 19 March 2018

Joshua may be forced to give up IBF crown

Anthony Joshua. Photo: Getty Images
Anthony Joshua. Photo: Getty Images

Bernard O'Neill

English heavyweight Anthony Joshua will be stripped of his IBF world title if he doesn't defend it by this November.

The unbeaten Watford sensation stopped Wladimir Klitschko in the 11th round at London's Wembley Stadium last Saturday to improve to 19 straight wins and add the WBA and IBO belts to his IBF crown.

The mandatory challenger for the IBF strap is Kubrat Pulev, but if Joshua doesn't defend against the Bulgarian, or if Kubrat doesn't accept step-aside money, the Olympic champion will be relieved of the title.

Tyson Fury, who boxed for Ireland and England in the amateur ranks, was stripped of the same IBF title for favouring a rematch with Klitschko which never took place.

Meantime, the WBA are expected to name Luis Ortiz as the mandatory for Joshua, who beat Ireland's Sean Turner and Cathal McMonagle in the amateur ranks.

"I'm not really concerned about belts. I'd love him to have all the belts, but as Tyson Fury found out, that's not really possible," said Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn, who also promotes Katie Taylor.

"The same thing which happened to Tyson Fury could happen to AJ (Joshua). His mandatory was due, he wouldn't fight his mandatory and he lost the belt."

Joshua said he wanted to a shot at Fury after his win over Klitschko. "I came back and fought my heart out. Fury where you at, baby?" he said.

But Hearn has ruled it out for now: "Physically, he (Fury) is not at the races and he has a lot to resolve in terms of his doping hearing and getting his licence back. Those have to be sorted before we can make anything happen."

Meanwhile, former Irish head coach Billy Walsh was delighted to see Joshua win last weekend but reckons Sean Turner, who is trained by Katie Taylor's dad, Pete Taylor, in the pro ranks, asked plenty of question of Joshua when they met.

"I was in Sean's corner in Wales that night. There wasn't a whole lot between them.

"Anthony Joshua is one of the true gentlemen of the sport," he said.

Irish Independent

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