Anthony Joshua has made it clear that he’s looking to become three-time world champion before all is said and done, and some strategic matchmaking could see it happen sooner than expected.
The Olympic Gold Medalist unified three of the four major heavyweight belts in 21 fights before briefly losing in a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua won that back in an immediate rematch six months later, beat Kubrat Pulev in 2020 but lost again to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021.
That rematch did not go in the Brit’s favour, and Usyk left the rivalry with all three titles and the opportunity to fight for undisputed – a longterm goal of ‘AJ’s – against the division’s other champion, Tyson Fury.
With that fight now signed and set for February, it was previously thought that Joshua would either have to beat Usyk in a trilogy or finally face off with Fury to achieve his goal.
Confirmation of a two-way rematch clause in the four-belt fight means that the IBF – which has ordered the winner to face its mandatory challenger, Filip Hrgovic – will strip the winner and make its belt vacant.
Hrgovic will fight the number two ranked contender, currently Otto Wallin following a points victory over Murat Gassiev.
Joshua – currently ranked number three – are keen to snatch that spot from the Swedish southpaw, and are reportedly close to finalising a deal to face him on December 23 in Saudi Arabia.
A win would mean that a fight with Hrgovic, potentially in March, could well be for the vacant IBF Heavyweight World Title.
Deontay Wilder, also a former champion looking to get back to the top, could appear on the card too. He’s angling to face Joshua himself in the first half of next year.