Anthony Joshua is set to face Oleksandr Usyk in a mouthwatering heavyweight title showdown early next year.
Joshua reclaimed the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles with a unanimous points win over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, avenging his shock knockout defeat to the Mexican in June.
The Brit’s next opponent was expected to be against the Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in a mandatory title defence in April or May.
But now ESPN has claimed that the WBO have formally ordered Joshua to face their No. 1 contender, Usyk.
And is it reported that the fight is supposed to happen within 180 days, meaning Joshua could be back in the ring before April next year.
“The WBO World Championship Committee hereby orders the parties herein commencement of negotiations for the above-mentioned WBO heavyweight mandatory championship contest,” the WBO wrote in the letter, as claimed by ESPN.
“Please be advised that the parties have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to reach an agreement.
“If an accord is not reached within the time frame set forth herein, a purse bid will be ordered pursuant with the WBO regulations of world championship contests.”