Anthony Joshua faces being stripped of heavyweight title if he beats Wladimir Klitschko

Jack Austin
The Independent

Anthony Joshua could be stripped of one of his world heavyweight titles if he defeats Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley next Saturday.

The Ukranian will step back into the ring for the first time in 18 months next weekend, since dropping the titles to Tyson Fury in Germany in 2015, with unbeaten Joshua looking to establish himself as the best heavyweight on the planet.

Joshua’s IBF title is on the line during the fight, as is the vacant WBA strap, but he could lose the former in the same way he gained it after Fury relinquished it.

Fury was stripped of the belt for favouring a rematch with Klitschko, which never took place due to injury, over a clash with the IBF’s mandatory challenger.

Joshua’s mandatory challenger for the IBF belt is Kubrat Pulev, with the pair required to meet by November, while the WBA are expected to make him fight Luis Ortiz, who is their number one contender.

His promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed the possibility, saying: “You're going to get the problem of multiple mandatories coming up. So after this fight, AJ's mandatory is Pulev with the IBF. At some point, maybe not next, but probably this year, the WBA mandatory will become Luis Ortiz.

“Joshua will quite possibly (have to vacate a belt) unless a deal can be done. It's not really a concern right now. I'm not really concerned about belts. I'd love him to have all the belts, but as Tyson Fury found out, that's not really possible.

“The same thing which happened to Tyson Fury could happen to AJ. His mandatory was due, he wouldn't fight his mandatory and he lost the belt.

“It would be the same for Anthony Joshua and there would be no exceptions to the rule. If that is the case, we'll have to make the best decision for his future.”

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