Deontay Wilder has been ordered to defend his WBC heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale.
With negotiations, also ordered by the WBC, for the rematch between Wilder and Tyson Fury ending without an agreement, Breazeale is almost certain to become his next challenger in New York on May 18.
Fury intends to face at least one lower-profile opponent – understood to be on May 11 or in June – before potentially revisiting the rematch.
With IBF, WBA and WBO champion Anthony Joshua fighting Jarrell Miller in New York on June 1, the world’s three leading heavyweights will again be separately engaged.
Though unsurprising, the development will also again frustrate Dillian Whyte who, after missing out on Joshua, had targeted both Wilder and Breazeale.
“WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder shall fulfil his mandatory obligations by fighting Dominic Breazeale next,” the WBC wrote in a statement.
“This order constitutes the start of the free negotiations period for champion Wilder’s mandatory defence of his title.
“If no agreement is reached between the camps, the WBC shall conduct a purse offer ceremony on April 4, 2019 at the WBC offices in Mexico City.”
Breazeale, like Wilder aged 33, lost to Joshua in seven rounds for the IBF title in June 2016. Wilder did not win for the first time in 41 fights as a professional when drawing with Fury last December.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has announced Tyson Fury will take on another opponent before a rematch with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
The governing body had ordered a rematch following the draw in their first fight in December but Fury will now “take on another fight” before turning his attention to Wilder.
Sulaiman said on Twitter: “@BronzeBomber (Wilder) vs @Tyson_Fury is officially not happening next.
“While WBC champion Wilder confirmed his willingness to fight the rematch, Fury will take on another fight with expectations to do the rematch at a later date.”
Last week Fury announced a lucrative deal with ESPN that makes it the “exclusive” broadcaster of his fights in the United States and that made negotiations difficult given Wilder has a deal with network Showtime.
However, after the announcement of that deal Fury’s promoter Frank Warren insisted the Wilder-Fury rematch remains likely.
Fury’s fellow Briton Anthony Joshua holds the other recognised belts in the division – WBA, IBF and WBO – and he will fight American Jarrell Miller at Madison Square Garden in June. That fight will be shown in the US on DAZN, giving all three fighters different loyalties and interests.
Anthony Joshua brushed off Jarrell Miller’s taunts after the pair came face-to-face in London to promote their world heavyweight title fight.
IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua will fight in the United States for the first time as a professional in New York on June 1.
That bout will also represent the first fight for a world title for Miller, who in 2014 was given a nine-month suspension by the California State Athletic Commission for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine.
The 30-year-old said he had noticed a change in Joshua’s physique, although added that he believes the Briton will be clean when the pair meet at Madison Square Garden.
Joshua, who has never failed or rejected a drugs test, responded: “He’s looking at my change between 2012 and 2013 but why doesn’t he look at the 11 years?
“Around the Olympics I was around 104kgs, then when I turned pro I was around 107kgs, so that’s around half-a-stone. I am 115kgs, so that’s 11kgs in 11 years; it averages out. It’s just my dedication.
“It’s not the first time this has happened. So many fighters will be accused but I get tested and if, in the next 10 years, something was to come up then it would be a genuine mistake because I do not shove needles up my a***.”
Miller revealed that both fighters have agreed to between 10 and 12 weeks of drug testing in the build-up to the bout.
Joshua confirmed: “I am on (drug testing scheme) ADAMS whereabouts, they have to know where I am for an hour every day and could walk in anytime.
“They can turn up any time during the day and that is a lifetime commitment. I have been on that since 2012 and I pay £40,000-a-fight to be tested by VADA two times a week.
“Jarrell Miller has been banned for drugs, so maybe that’s why he’s saying it.”