The International Boxing Federation (IBF) have set an official deadline for current heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua's second title defence, against Joseph Parker. The undefeated New Zealander, who currently holds the WBO Oriental belt at regional level, confirmed his status as mandatory challenger last month by outpointing tough veteran Carlos Takam in a bruising contest held in Auckland.
Joshua became the fifth-fastest man ever to claim a world heavyweight title in April with his second-round knockout of Charles Martin, and the 2012 Olympic gold medallist – who has stopped all 17 of his professional opponents inside the distance – returned to London's O2 Arena on Saturday night (25 June) to voluntarily defend his crown against another unfancied American in Dominic Breazeale. He preserved his impressive record with an emphatic seventh-round finish that showed the necessary patience and ring intelligence after the California native had proven surprisingly durable.
Speaking to Boxing News about the proposed meeting with Parker, the IBF said: "We will notify Anthony Joshua that he must fight mandatory challenger Joseph Parker on 9 November 2016. The mandatory due date is 9 January 2017."
While Joshua will enjoy a deserved break after two title fights in the space of just two-and-a-half months, Parker is due to return to action on 21 July against former rugby league player Solomon Haumono. The Pan Asian Boxing Association (PABA), World Boxing Association (WBA) Oceania and WBO Oriental straps will all be on the line at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch.
"We're ready now," promoter Dean Lonergan told Sky Sports about that mandatory IBF challenge. "If Eddie Hearn rang me up tomorrow and says we want to fight in the mandatory period, we want to fight November or December – that would be fantastic. They are going to take a long break, which I think Anthony Joshua deserves, and they will make their decisions.
"It doesn't worry us either way. We've got our shot guaranteed and it's going to happen. Eddie himself was saying it's either November, December for Joseph or March, April. Either one doesn't worry us. Joseph fights on 21 July. We'll probably fight another time after that in late September, early October, and then the mandatory period comes up 19 November. Any day after that, Joseph would be ready."
After watching Saturday's fight, Lonergan also confirmed that his charge was "very confident" of inflicting Joshua's first career loss and questioned Breazeale's experience and skill set while warning of the dangers of Parker's impressive jab.