Deontay Wilder has been ordered to defend his WBC heavyweight crown against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale next – in a blow to Dillian Whyte’s hopes of a title shot.
Wilder looked set for a rerun of his December 1 classic against Tyson Fury, only for negotiations to break down following Fury’s £80million deal with ESPN.
Now he will fight compatriot Breazeale after the WBC called on their heavyweight champion to fulfil his mandatory obligations. Reports suggest he is slated in to return on May 18 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The news leaves Britain’s Whyte out in the cold for now. Last month the sanctioning body ordered him to fight Breazeale in a fight to determine their No 1 challenger.
But following the postponement of Wilder-Fury II, WBC chief Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed on Wednesday that Breazeale had earned a shot at the title.
His and Wilder’s camps now have until April 4 to negotiate a deal, at which point a purse bid will be called.
Whyte’s situation is unclear. He and promoter Eddie Hearn said last week they would oppose any attempts to make Wilder-Breazeale on the basis that the WBC had said the mandatory challenger would only be determined by a fight between Whyte and Breazeale.
America’s Breazeale, 33, has won all but one of his 21 professional fights – his only defeat coming at the hands of Anthony Joshua in 2016.
Wilder, meanwhile, will now make the ninth defence of his title later this year, having kept his belt courtesy of a controversial draw against Fury in Las Vegas.
“I don’t care about Dominic Breazeale at all, I don’t feel he brings anything to the table but another body I can lay out on the canvas, another knockout for the highlight reel, another viral video for the internet,” Wilder told The Ring earlier this month. “That’s all he is to me.”
Should the fight go ahead, fans’ hopes of seeing any combination of Wilder, Fury and Joshua fight in the same ring would be put on hold once more.
Joshua defends his WBA, WBO and IBF title against American Jarrell Miller in New York on June 1, while Fury is set for an interim fight before renewing his assault on the two champions.