ANTHONY JOSHUA has been given a 24-hour deadline to sign to fight Russian Alexander Povetkin or face being stripped of a portion of his world heavyweight title.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has been negotiating for a unification bout with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder but the WBA has lost patience and wants him to face its own mandatory challenger.
WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said in a statement: ‘Today the WBA requested an answer from Anthony Joshua’s team regarding his fight with the mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin.
‘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.’
The demand will not cause Joshua’s team too many issues given negotiations with the Wilder camp appear to be deadlocked and former champion Povetkin represents the next-best bet for a stadium-filling autumn bout.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn had indicated he was close to agreeing a deal with Wilder, but the American’s team claim to be holding out for ‘clarifications’.
Povetkin, who held the WBA’s ‘regular’ title between 2011 and 2013, beat Briton David Price in his last fight in March on the undercard of Joshua’s win over Joseph Parker in Cardiff.
The Principality Stadium would be favourite to host the prospective contest between Joshua and Povetkin, confirmation of which would delay a clash with Wilder until at least next year.