THE IBF are set to make a decision this week on whether they will enforce a mandatory defence onto heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua – who does not intend to avoid No 1 challenger Kubrat Pulev.
After adding the WBA title to his haul by stopping Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium last month, the unbeaten Londoner faced the prospect of having to fight Pulev next.
However, Klitschko may elect to exercise his right to a rematch against Joshua, in which case promoter Eddie Hearn would hope to come to an agreement with the IBF and Pulev’s promoter.
“Everyone wants Joshua to be their champion but you’ve also got to follow the rules and we respect that,” he told Boxing News.
“If we fight Klitschko, we would like to put the Pulev fight on ice. We know we’ve got to fight him. Kalle Sauerland promotes Pulev and we’re very close with them, so we’ll look for a resolution.
“You don’t want to lose a belt, I won’t let Josh be caught up by politics, he’s bigger than that. Ideally, we want to win all the belts, that’s the childhood dream isn’t it?”
It is a similar situation to the one Tyson Fury found himself in after he took the IBF, WBA and WBO titles from Klitschko in November 2015. After agreeing to a rematch with Klitschko – something he was contractually obliged to do – Fury was stripped of the IBF title, who had ordered him to box No 1 challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov.
Hearn was aware that an IBF mandatory defence loomed after the Klitschko fight, so he put measures in place to ensure they would have time to find a solution.
“We would have had the same thing as Fury but we were prepared, we’ve known about this for months but they didn’t, it caught them unexpectedly and it was too late then,” he explained.
“We’ve put measures in place to make sure that doesn’t happen; that doesn’t mean we cannot fight Pulev because we have to, but we can take our time and find a solution.”