By Jim Dower: The has given //WBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. an exception to delay his mandatory defense against contender Kubrat Pulev in order to face former champion in a rematch on December 7. The winner of the Joshua-Ruiz rematch will need to defend against #1 ranked Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs) by May 31, 2020.

letting Ruiz Jr. bypass Pulev

This is good news that the Intentional Federation isn’t going to force Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) to vacate his title, because the sanctioning body has seen two popular middleweight champions in Saul Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin relinquish up their titles recently due to them wanting them to defend against Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

Pulev, 38, recently defeated by a 12 round unanimous decision in an title eliminator last October. The was criticized by some fans for making the Pulev vs. Fury fight an eliminator. There were arguably better contenders than the 6’6″ Hughie in the ’s rankings at the time.  Fury (23-2, 13 KOs) is still unproven at the world level. He had recently lost to Joseph Parker in September 2017.

Former //WBO heavyweight champion lost his title shortly after winning it in November 2015. He failed to quickly defend it against their mandatory Vyacheslav Glazkov when the fight was ordered by the sanctioning body. Charles Martin ended up capturing the vacant title in stopping Glazkov in the third round in January 2016.

Ruiz’s WBO mandatory is due in 2020

Things could get complicated for the winner of the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. winner, because they’ll have two mandatory defenses due in 2020. The first will obviously be against Pulev in May 2020. The next is World Organization mandatory (16-0, 12 KOs), who recently moved to heavyweight.

If Joshua loses to Ruiz on December 7th, there’s a chance that he could fight for the WBO title against Usyk in 2020 if Ruiz vacates the belt. There’s no money for Ruiz in defending the WBO against Usyk in 2020, because the Ukrainian doesn’t have a big fan base in the U.S. It would be a waste for Ruiz to face Usyk.

The WBO immediately gave the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk a #1 ranking at heavyweight. Without Usyk having fought at heavyweight, the WBO has already installed him as the mandatory for Ruiz Jr. to defend against. Usyk is still waiting to make his heavyweight debut. He was supposed to fight former world title challenger Carlos Takam on May 25 in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Usyk suffered a biceps injury while training, and had to pull out of the fight. It’s now unclear when Usyk will fight. Nevertheless, Usyk is the WBO’s mandatory at heavyweight, and he’s slotted to challenge for the world title in 2020. Being signed with Matchroom promoter could potentially make things easy for Usyk, as long as Joshua beats Ruiz Jr. in their rematch on December 7 in S Arabia.


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