Anthony Joshua could be ordered to face Martin Bakole in a WBA final eliminator bout after his crossover clash with Francis Ngannou in March. Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom, who represents Bakole, claims the major sanctioning body may order a final eliminator between their No 1 ranked fighter (Bakole) and No 2 ranked fighter (Joshua) after Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury square off for the WBA, IBF, WBO and WBC titles on February 17.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Shalom said: “The WBA may order a final eliminator and we are waiting on direction from them. The aim for Martin is to fight early in the year and continue his impressive run. I’m looking forward to seeing him fully fit, when he will look even more devastating.
“Of course Anthony Joshua is No 2 [in the WBA rankings] and so it would make sense that the fight would be ordered – and Martin would be ready. Martin remains the most avoided heavyweight in the world and his recent performances have only added to that.
“We’re looking forward to a big year for Martin, who will inevitably fight for world titles in the not-so-distant future.” Joshua is expected to face Filip Hrgovic for the soon-to-be vacated IBF strap at some point in 2024 so a WBA final eliminator with Bakole seems unlikely at this stage.
If Joshua does pass up the opportunity for a shot at the IBF world title then the offer will be extended to the next fighter in the WBA rankings, No 3 rated Joseph Parker. Joshua and Bakole are very familiar with each other having sparred several rounds over the years.
Bakole insists he has learned how to stop the Watford powerhouse during their time spent in the ring together and he would no doubt relish the opportunity to prove his claims right. The Congolese puncher recently made headlines after affirming he dropped Usyk in sparring with a body shot.
“First or second round I think and I stopped him, he took about one, two minutes and they start again, but from that day his coach told me not to spar, they just used dome other guys, for him to recover,” Bakole told Seconds Out.
“I wasn’t surprised, I’m too strong for Usyk, I know how to box a southpaw… It was a body shot. I stepped back and body shot.” Usyk’s camp have since come out and denied Bakole’s claims.