Tyson Fury has begun negotiations for a world title defence against Dillian Whyte early next year.
The WBC has officially ordered talks over the all-British title showdown to commence having finally made Whyte the mandatory challenger for the heavyweight belt.
The governing body were expected to order the world title bout at their annual convention in Mexico in November.
An ongoing arbitration case involving the WBC and Whyte delayed that decision.
But WBC chief Mauricio Sulaimán has now ordered talks to begin, which will force Fury to defend his title against Whyte or vacate the belt.
All parties are now currently in a free negotiation period and will have 30 days to agree a deal or purse bids will be called.
The fight is expected to take place at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium or in Manchester early next year.
The development should end Fury’s immediate hopes of meeting IBF, WBO and WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk in a unification bout in 2022.
Anthony Joshua activated a rematch clause following his defeat the undefeated Ukrainian in September but has suggested in recent weeks he would be open to a ‘step-aside’ offer to allow Fury vs Usyk to take place first.
The WBC’s ruling however means Whyte is next in line for Fury.
Whyte, 33, has waited patiently for his first world title shot having held a lofty position within the WBC rankings for a number of years.
The Brixton fighter was scheduled to take on Otto Wallin in October – effectively putting his status as Fury’s mandatory challenger on the line against the Swede.
A shoulder injury forced Whyte to withdraw from that contest however just 10 days before fight night.
While Wallin’s team have demanded the fight be rearranged for a later date, the WBC have proceeded with plans for Fury to defend his title against his fellow Briton.Photo Credit: Getty