Anthony Joshua has been officially ordered by the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) to defend his WBO title in a mandatory fight against a challenger, Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua who won his rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr last weekend in Saudi Arabia after sweeping the scorecard in a unanimous 118-110, 118-110, 110-109 verdict to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts that he lost to Ruiz in New York.
The WBO in its statement stated: “The WBO World Champion Committee hereby orders the parties herein commencement of negotiations for the above-mentioned WBO heavyweight mandatory championship contest.
“Please be advised that the parties have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to reach an agreement.
“If an accord is not reached within the time frame set forth herein, a purse bid will be ordered pursuant with the WBO regulations of world championship contests.’
By implication, Joshua now compulsorily will have to fight and defend his WBO title before June 4, of next year.
Failure of him to face the Ukrainian Usyk before January 10, 2020, he will be forced to vacate his belt, which will dash his hope of adding the WBC crown.
However, if Joshua vacates his belt, Usyk could face either Dereck Chisora or Joseph Parker for the strap, and this would further divide the belt across the division.
Usyk had conquered the cruiserweight division where he made his long-awaited step up in weight in October when he stopped Chazz Witherspoon in their seventh round.
The WBO President while commenting said, ‘The future plans are celebrate and celebrate hard, Joshua has won Olympic gold for Great Britain and tonight in Saudi he became two time heavyweight champion of the world.
“Tonight he is the guvnor of the division; give him the respect he deserves.”
Meanwhile, Joshua himself declared interest in a third deciding bout between himself and Ruiz shortly after becoming a two time World Heavyweight champion.