Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are finally in a position where they can next face each other in a long-awaited heavyweight super fight.
The WBC surprisingly didn’t push for such a matchup, despite both being the two highest ranked contenders in their current heavyweight ratings.
Instead, the sanctioning body has opted to take a wait-and-see approach in lieu of an ordered title eliminator to establish a mandatory challenger.
“The Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk bout is confirmed for the undisputed championship,” WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed during the Ratings and Mandatory portion of the 61st annual WBC convention in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. “The WBC has granted sanctioning of this fight with the specific provision of a rematch.
“The WBC did make a ruling during the convention last year to have a mandatory process. Those fights did not happen. At this moment, the WBC will not address the mandatory position.”
Fury (34-0-1, 24KOs) is the current WBC and lineal heavyweight champion. He is due to next face WBA, IBF and WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14KOs) to crown the sport’s first undisputed heavyweight champion of the 21st century.
The decision to not yet establish a mandatory for Fury was in stark contrast to the sanctioning body’s effort to stage a Deontay Wilder-Andy Ruiz final eliminator as ruled during last year’s convention. The bout was supposed to serve as a continuation of a four-man boxoff which saw Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs) and Ruiz (35-2, 22KOs) win separate semifinal eliminators.
Ruiz—a former unified WBA, IBF and WBO titlist—has not fought since a win over Luis Ortiz last September to become a top contender. Wilder followed suit six weeks later with a first-round knockout of Robert Helenius last October 15. It was his first fight since his back-to-back knockout losses to Tyson Fury, the first which ended his lengthy WBC title reign.
Wilder-Ruiz never came close to materializing, though both sides blamed the other for the collapse. Wilder has since resurfaced on the loaded December 23 card, on which he will face fellow former titleholder Joseph Parker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The same show sees England’s Joshua (26-3, 23KOs) face Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Joshua and Wilder are ranked one and two, respectively, in the most recent WBC ratings. Wallin and Joshua are number two and three with the IBF, whose mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic appears on the same show.
It is unclear whether the Joshua-Wallin winner would next face Hrgovic should the IBF title become available, or if a Joshua-Wilder showdown is finally on the horizon.
“On December 23, we will have many heavyweight fights that will affect the heavyweight rankings,” noted Sulaiman. “At this moment, there is no proposal for a final eliminator. We have the heavyweight champion of the world fighting for the undisputed, with at least one confirmed bout after that. There is no mandatory position process.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox