Joshua won the WBA title with stunning triumph over Wladimir Klitschko a year ago as he climbed off the canvas to stop the Ukrainian in the 11th round at Wembley.
The World Boxing Association have now told Joshua to negotiate a defence against Povetkin if he wants to keep his title.
AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports News: “The WBA called the mandatory yesterday for AJ to face Povetkin next.
“We have a 30 day window to negotiate – at this stage it means it’s very likely Anthony’s next fight will be between Deontay Wilder or Povetkin.”
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A member of Povetkin’s promotional team said: “Povetkin is now a mandatory contender of Anthony Joshua. He was appointed by WBA.
“Now there are 150 days to arrange the fight, it must take place. Before the fight with Sasha, Joshua has no right to fight with anybody else. We have 30 days to negotiate.”