WBA MOVING TOWARDS STRIPPING JOSHUA?
Yesterday's retirement announcement by Wladimir Klitschko could trigger the splintering of the WBA and IBF heavyweight championships, which are currently both held by England's Anthony Joshua. Both the IBF and WBA were on board for the planned rematch between Joshua and Klitschko, but as soon as Klitschko bowed out, the WBA rushed to order Joshua to make his next defense against Cuba's Luis Ortiz. However, Joshua held the IBF title before he acquired the WBA version, and the IBF previously ordered Joshua to face the IBF mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria. The IBF allowed Joshua to face Klitschko in their first match on the condition that the winner face Pulev. Clearly, Pulev is at the front of the line, so for the WBA to order Joshua vs. Ortiz, it shows the organization is intent on separating the major heavyweight titles. (The WBC title belongs to Deontay Wilder and the WBO is with Joseph Parker). Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn told the Daily Mail that Joshua would "almost certainly" fight Pulev next. That would put the ball in the WBA's court whether to sanction Joshua-Pulev or strip him and let Ortiz fight someone else for its belt. Fans would probably be a little more interested in Joshua vs. the undefeated Ortiz because Pulev already failed in a title bid vs. Klitschko, but Ortiz also has a reported history of cheating with pefromance enhancing drugs. --Scott Shaffer