WBA orders Anthony Joshua to fight Povetkin or lose title

LONDON — Anthony Joshua was given a 24-hour deadline on Tuesday to sign a deal to fight Alexander Povetkin or face being stripped of the WBA portion of his world heavyweight boxing titles.

Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, indicated he was close to agreeing on a unification bout with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, but the American’s team claim to be holding out for “clarifications.”

The WBA has lost patience and want him to fight its mandatory challenger from Russia.

WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said in a statement: “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.”

There seems no choice for Joshua (21-0, 20 KO), who holds three of the big four heavyweight titles and can’t afford to relinquish one in his bid to become the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000. His WBA and IBF belts were joined by the WBO version he relieved from Joseph Parker in March.

A Joshua-Povetkin fight this year would push Wilder to next year.

The WBA originally gave the promoters of Joshua and Povetkin until May 5 to reach an agreement then extended it.

Povetkin (34-1, 24 KO) became the WBA mandatory challenger last December when he beat Christian Hammer of Romania by unanimous decision. He enhanced his record in March by knocking out David Price of England in the fifth round on the undercard of the Joshua-Parker fight in Cardiff.

Povetkin held the WBA “regular” title from 2011 to 2013, when he suffered his only loss in a unification fight with Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision.

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