Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 24-1 (22) plans to give up his WBO title if his mandatory title defence against Oleksandr Usyk 18-0 (13) is forced to go to purse bid.
The 31-year-old Brit was expected to unify his WBA, WBO and IBF belts with WBC champion Tyson Fury 30-0-1 (21) in Saudi Arabia on August 14.
Those plans were thrown into turmoil when an independent arbitrator ruled in May that Fury must honour his contractual obligation to face Deontay Wilder 42-1-1 (41) for a third time after the 35-year-old American enacted the immediate rematch clause in their contract following his seventh-round knockout loss to the 32-year-old Brit in February last year.
Ukrainian southpaw Usyk, 34, has been listed as the WBO’s leading contender since moving up to heavyweight two years ago.
The former undisputed cruiserweight champion is now pushing for his mandated shot at the title.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has warned that if a deal can’t be reached, they would rather vacate the WBO title than go through the purse bid process.
“We’ll either make a deal or we’ll vacate,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said on Saturday night following Devin Haney’s win over Jorge Linares at the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“I mean, we won’t be going to purse bids or anything like that and mucking around. By the way, I don’t blame the WBO. They were actually quite generous to us with our time.
“I mean, let’s be honest – it dragged on a lot, didn’t it? So I have to take my hat off to [WBO president] Paco Valcarcel because he did put himself, his neck on the line, to allow that fight when Usyk had a strong case for it not to be allowed.
“But when the time come, [Valcarcel] had to do what he had to do. So I’m not annoyed with the WBO. I’m just annoyed that it seems that basically AJ is told who he’s gotta fight every single time. But that’s the problem of having three or four belts. That’s just how it is.”
Hearn added that negotiations with Usyk’s co-promoter Alexander Krassyuk were going smoothly and that he expected to be able to reach a deal in the coming week.
“I feel like as long as the deal goes smoothly… and no one tries to be clever, then I think that fight is quite automatic,” he said.