By Peter Akinbo.
Former heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua is on the verge of getting a title shot much earlier than he would have hoped as a chance to battle for the IBF belt comes knocking.
Joshua could get the opportunity to fight Filip Hrgovic as the next contender in line for a crack at the interim IBF title.
Joshua is close to landing the secondary heavyweight title shot and may be able to compete for the strap he won in 2016 as quickly as this summer.
The former two-time world champion is the next in line after Ruiz and Wilder in the IBF ranking. Therefore, he’s in for a shock opportunity at the vacant interim red strap against Hrgovic.
This is due to Andy Ruiz Jr. pulling out of purse bids on Thursday.
Joshua could also earn a shot at the full title against Hrgovic. However, he is ironically relying on Tyson Fury to get this unexpected chance at becoming a three-time heavyweight titleholder.
The British-Nigerian needs Fury to beat Oleksandr Usyk in the spring. If he does and relinquishes as promised, the IBF would move to sanction a clash with Hrgovic for the ultimate crown.
Fury has vowed to relinquish the IBF belt if he ever wins it again. The Gypsy King stated he doesn’t want to hold it again, even for one day.
Meanwhile Joshua is now scheduled to face Jermaine Franklin on his ring return on April 1 at the O2 Arena in London.
The Franklin fight is seen as make or break for Joshua, with many pundits of the belief that defeat would spell the end to any aspirations of becoming a three-time heavyweight world champion.
It will be the British-Nigerian’s first outing under new trainer Derrick James, and many fans are hopeful the link up could bring a return of success that has trailed Joshua throughout in his career.
A familiar face to UK fans after his impressive showing against Dillian Whyte last November, Franklin has always maintained he was hard done by that night and will have all the confidence of upsetting Joshua at the 02 Arena on April 1st.
A rematch for Joshua against Whyte looks set for the summer, provided he gets past Franklin in April.