Dillian Whyte's quest for a shot at the heavyweight championship has suffered a setback after the WBC failed to mandate champion Tyson Fury to face his British rival.
Whyte was expected to be named as the mandatory challenger to Fury's WBC belt, a title he retained with an 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in October, with Whyte sitting in pole position to challenge due to his status as the WBC 'interim' champion.
However, the WBC did not reveal Fury's mandatory commitments at its annual convention on Tuesday, meaning Whyte must wait longer for the fight to be sanctioned.
The WBC indicated Whyte's legal battle - thought to focus on his frustrations at not getting a title fight - means they cannot officially call for the mandatory defence.
WBC chiefs had previously said they were intending to order a mandatory defence for Fury if he was unable to arrange a bout with new unified and WBA (Super), WBO and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk. That unification fight was effectively ruled out as soon as Anthony Joshua triggered his rematch clause against the Ukrainian.
Whyte, meanwhile, was scheduled to fight Otto Wallin in a contest to determine the mandatory challenger, but pulled out because of a shoulder injury.
His withdrawal is not thought to have had any effect on the WBC's decision not to order Fury to face Whyte.
The impasse leaves Fury's own plans in limbo. The 33-year-old Englishman cemented his legacy as one of the best heavyweights of his generation by closing out his epic trilogy against Wilder in emphatic style, with a fourth instalment against the 'Bronze Bomber' holding little appeal.
It has been three years since Fury last fought in the UK – when he outpointed Francesco Pianeta in Belfast – and his co-promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren have both said they expect the unbeaten champion's next fight to take place in the UK.
Fury is currently training half-brother Tommy Fury for his upcoming bout against YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul in Tampa, Florida next month.