WBC can sanction Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder despite ordering ‘direct rematch’ with Tyson Fury

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The World Boxing Council may sanction an historic April showdown between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua despite ordering a 'direct rematch' between their heavyweight champion and Tyson Fury.

Wilder and Fury served up one of the most dramatic heavyweight title fights of the generation on December 1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, when Fury twice climbed from the canvas to hear the final bell. Most expected the Gypsy King to be awarded the decision – and the green and gold WBC belt - after dominating the majority of the fight despite the pair of knockdowns, the heaviest of which came in the 12th and final round.

But Fury was left seething when the three ringside judges combined to deliver a split draw verdict, which he later described as the worst decision he has ever seen. As a result, the British Boxing Board of Control wrote to the WBC requesting an immediate rematch and it was confirmed on Friday that the governing body had voted unanimously in favour of the demand.

Since then, Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn as reiterated his desire to lure Wilder to Wembley on April 13, when the WBA, WBO and IBF champion will next defend his titles. Should Joshua and Wilder meet it would be the first time in history that all four major belts have been on the line in a heavyweight fight, but it would go against the WBC's directive and also leave Fury out in the cold.

Ordinarily, a unification bout would supersede a mandatory challenge and Mauricio Sulaiman, the WBC's President has confirmed that his board would vote once again should Wilder request the chance to face Joshua next.

“That's a fight that everybody has wanted to see for a long time,” Sulaiman told The Independent. “But unfortunately it did not materialise in September of this year. I do not want to anticipate anything but if there's something for the WBC board to vote on we will do so.

“When there's a unification bid as a request of course we will consider it but the WBC has voted for Deontay Wilder against Tyson Fury next. We will take everything into action on the first week of January.

“The WBC voted for the rematch. If Wilder has a request, every request has to be considered and reviewed but, for now, the WBC voted for the rematch and we have not yet received any other scenario.”

The situation has been further complicated by Dominic Breazeale's current status as mandatory challenger, not to mention Dillian Whyte's back-to-back defences of the WBC's 'silver' title.

However, given Fury was a voluntary defence for Wilder, the WBC's recent vote has allowed the Bronze Bomber to forgo an encounter with his fellow American Breazeale for now.

Eddie Hearn has already begun negotiations with Deontay Wilder's team (Action Images via Reuters)
Eddie Hearn has already begun negotiations with Deontay Wilder's team (Action Images via Reuters)

Both Breazeale and Whyte are in action on opposite sides of the pond on December 22 and it has been suggested that the WBC will order the pair to meet in a final eliminator if they are both successful three days before Christmas. The winner would then be mandated to face whoever holds the WBC belt late next year.

“On December 22, Dominic Breazeale and Dillian Whyte are both fighting,” Sulaiman added. “That’s the No.1 contender and the silver champion, so let's see what happens on the 22nd. Until we know the results of those fights it is all hypothetical. But as per the WBC ruling, the next fight must be the rematch between Wilder and Fury.”

Sulaiman also defended the bizarre scorecard returned by his countryman Alejandro Rochin, the experienced world championship judge, who was back in the chair a week later at the StubHub Center, California.

Rochin, somehow, had Wilder winning the fight 115-111 which meant the American would have won on his card even without the two knockdowns, which earned Wilder 10-8 rounds in both the ninth and the 12th. But Sulaiman said: “It was not incompetence.

“Mr Rochin has a proven record of judging. He just saw from his side WBC that fight. I believe the problem came in the first four rounds, which he gave all to Wilder. He just got stuck to what he was seeing at that time. Had he given two rounds to Fury or even one to Fury then it becomes a much closer fight.

“But I'd rather stick to the feeling of a great fight, which we saw, and not concentrate on the controversy. A draw was a fair result. It was a difficult fight to score, there were close rounds and the judges were all over the place. I believe the end result, a draw, was more than fair for both. I don't like to see the scoring become a controversy but unfortunately Mr Rochin had a wide decision going Wilder's way and Mr [Robert] Tapper had it going to Fury and the British judge had it a draw.

“Anyway, it was a great match for boxing and I would hope that the controversy about the scoring does not overshadow the greatness of the fight. I'm sure the rematch will be a massive event.”

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