Anthony Joshua has officially been ordered by the World Boxing Organisation to defend his WBO title against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
The British boxer won his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr last weekend after sweeping the scorecard with a unanimous 118-110, 118-110, 110-109 verdict to reclaim the WBA, IBF and WBO belts that he lost to the Mexican in New York.
But following his emphatic victory in Saudi Arabia, the WBO president has stated that Joshua must take on Ukranian Usyk within 180 days of Saturday’s win.
The WBO confirmed,”The WBO World Championship 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.’
That means that Joshua will now have to face the prospect of defending his WBO title before June 4th.
If he does not agree to meet the Ukrainian former cruiserweight king before January 10, he will be forced to vacate his belt, dealing a setback to his hopes of adding the WBC crown.
If Joshua does vacate his belt, Usyk could face either Dereck Chisora or Joseph Parker for the strap, which would divide the belts further across the division.
The Ukranian has conquered the cruiserweight division and made his long-awaited step up in weight in October when he stopped Chazz Witherspoon in the seventh round.