The IBF have confirmed that the Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev camps have asked for a deadline extension to negotiate their mandated fight.
Britain’s Joshua, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight championships, was recently ordered to make mandatory title defences against Pulev and Oleksandr Usyk, his IBF and WBO mandatory challengers respectively.
Speculation has been rife that Joshua will vacate his WBO title to pursue the Pulev fight, which will give promotional stablemate and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk the opportunity to fight for the vacant belt.
“I have just been told that the Pulev and Joshua camps have asked until January 31 to negotiate,” a spokesperson for the IBF revealed to Sky Sports.
Earlier in the week promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing revealed Usyk was being offered an alternative fight against Dereck Chisora in London.
“Conversations are ongoing with all parties to plan what’s next and it will really come to a head over the next few weeks,” Hearn told Sky Sports.
“We are still awaiting clarification from the governing bodies to confirm who is chronologically next but right now everything is in play.
“In terms of Usyk versus Chisora that is still a potential outcome, but March 7 is unlikely. Instead we have March 28 on hold at the O2.”
Bulgaria’s Pulev – whose lone loss was to Wladimir Klitschko – was scheduled to face Joshua in October 2017 before being forced to withdraw from the fight due to injury.
If the WBO title does become vacant former champion Joseph Parker looks likely to be in the opposite corner to Usyk after being elevated to No.2 in the rankings.
“If he [Joshua] vacates the WBO, then suddenly you’ve got Usyk mandatory and I think the next available ranked boxer is Joseph Parker,” said the New Zealander’s manager David Higgins.
“You could end up with a situation where you have Usyk fight Parker for the vacant title, which funnily enough is how Joseph became world champion. He fought [Andy] Ruiz for the vacant title. History repeats.”
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