A rematch between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko has moved a step closer after the Englishman was granted an exception by the IBF.
The British boxer became a unified world heavyweight champion in April by stopping Klitschko in the eleventh round of a classic fight at Wembley Stadium. Joshua was then scheduled to meet IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, until the special dispensation was given.
However, the exception means a fight between Joshua and Klitschko must take place before December 2. Then, Pulev will be next in line for the winner. The Bulgarian objected to an exception but has accepted it knowing he will definitely get a shot at the title.
Promoter Eddie Hearn recently told Sky Sports the rematch “is happening” unless he hears differently from the Klitschko camp.
When asked about Joshua’s next opponent and possible venue, Hearn said:
“I feel like it’s Wladimir Klitschko. People keep saying is there a deadline? The situation is the fight is happening unless we are told otherwise by Bernd Boente and Wladimir Klitschko, who have a meeting this week.
“So many offers this week – Nigeria, Dubai, America, and also we have the opportunity of Cardiff here in the UK.
“Financially, Cardiff’s not the best choice, but also at the same time, if it’s not broke don’t fix it, and we have that mentality with ‘AJ’ moving forward.
“Over the next two weeks we are going to look at all those opportunities and sift out the ones that are real and the ones that make sense, and look at where the fight will be. But in our minds moving forward, it’s Wladimir Klitschko next.”
Now, any rematch is down to whether Klitschko wants it or not. The Ukrainian has hinted at retirement since defeat to Joshua. However, he may want to avenge that loss before he calls it a day. A decision is expected from Klitschko in the coming days.
Whether a second fight between the two will be as good as the first remains to be seen. But, regardless of the quality of the actual fight, it will make a lot of money.
The first fight was a classic and it looks as though it will happen again before the end of 2017.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena