Hopes of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua meeting in the ring within the next year have been dashed by the WBC.
The pair were eyeing a showdown later this year until the coronavirus pandemic allayed plans and forced back their own upcoming bouts.
Fury was in talks over his trilogy clash with Deontay Wilder, mooted for sometime in July, but will now more likely be held in October, while Joshua's June meeting with Kubrat Pulev has been postponed with a new date yet to be confirmed.
As a result, Fury and Joshua shifted their hopes to a clash early next year, but the WBC have made it clear that mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte will not be made to wait any longer for his title shot.
Whyte will therefore earn an opportunity to face Fury for his WBC world heavyweight title before the end of February 2021.
That does not give enough time for Fury to fight Joshua in between, ensuring they will not meet until the following summer at the earliest.
It is likely that Joshua would instead use the time to fight mandatory challenger to his WBO title, Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk.
The WBO have ordered that fight to be completed this calendar year, but have not indicated whether they will allow for an extension on that period in light of the current lockdown situation.
Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn also represents Usyk and Whyte, but faces the current task of finding a new venue for the champion's showdown with Pulev.
The clash was due to be staged at Tottenham Hotspur's stadium, but that is now likely to be in use due to the postponement of the Premier League season.
Fury meanwhile has questioned Wilder's motives after the Bronze Bomber activated a clause for a third bout, despite being beaten so convincingly in their rematch.
“Yeah, I was surprised he took the fight because it was a one-sided fight,” The Gypsy King told Talksport.
“He didn’t win a second of that second fight, but in this game it’s a short game and a short career, and there’s an old saying – ‘We’ve gotta make hay while the sun shines.’
“And for Deontay Wilder at the age of 34, how many big fights out there are left for him after a domination like he had?
“I don’t know the man’s personal circumstances, but from what I’ve seen of these American fighters and sportsmen, they always live a rockstar’s lifestyle, even though they’re not rockstars.
“They go through a lot of money quite quickly. Just look at Mike Tyson, he went through like a billion dollars or whatever he went through.
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