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Joshua is currently locked in talks with WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker and revealed this week that the fight deal was ’95 per cent done’. But, should that fight fail to make it over the line, Joshua will conduct a voluntary defence and Povetkin will be the opponent.
Povetkin is fresh off a points victory over Christian Hammer and that win earned him WBA’s top ranked contender spot. Joshua is eager to hold onto all his heavyweight titles, which means a mandatory defence is likely in 2018. Just as Joshua defended his IBF title against Carlos Takam in October, Povetkin will most likely get a shot at the WBA strap this year.
Joshua has spoken at length about his ambition to at some stage hold all four major world titles and that will mean holding onto his WBA belt. Povetkin is an experienced opponent who fought 24 rounds and two fights in 2017 after previously recording five stoppages in a row. The Russian has had issues with doping watchdogs and was forced to compensate Deontay Wilder after That showdown was canceled as a result, but a life-time ban handed down by the WBC on Povetkin was lifted this month. Joshua has another major 12 months ahead of him and is likely to fight at least twice this year, if not three times.
The 28-year-old returns to training this month in preparation for a March fight in Cardiff, with Parker the frontrunner to be Joshua’s next opponent.