Anthony Joshua could be in line for an imminent shot at the European Boxing Union (EBU) heavyweight title after promoter Kalle Sauerland cast considerable doubt on current champion Robert Helenius's proposed defence against Dereck Chisora.
Helenius, who controversially beat Chisora via split decision during their first meeting in Helsinki back in December 2011, was initially due to face Erkan Teper last month, but that fight was postponed after his opponent suffered an arm injury. He instead met Franz Rill in his home country, securing both the vacant EBU belt and the IBF international heavyweight championship with a comfortable 12-round victory.
The EBU subsequently ordered the Finn to defend his title in a second bout against Chisora, setting 21 January as the deadline for purse bids. With that date quickly approaching, however, Chisora's promoters claim that they have heard "nothing back" with regards to their last offer and state that they have heard from good sources the champion plans to give up his crown.
"If Helenius gives up the belt then okay – thanks for wasting our time," Sauerland told Sky Sports. "The next one is [Wladimir] Klitschko, who's lining up a Fury rematch. Then there's [Alexander] Povetkin, who's in talks with [Deontay] Wilder. The next one in the rankings is Joshua, so it would come down to a Chisora-Joshua fight. In the UK, we don't need to do much selling there.
"The fight would be imminent because it would be ordered. It would then be up to us to agree a deal with Matchroom, and we have a very close working relationship. The fighters have their demands, we represent those and try to reach terms. That would be the next step.
"It's all speculation at the moment because as it stands, the rumours of Helenius vacating are only that and we're still going to a purse bid tomorrow... but strong indications are that they've got cold feet."
Chisora has had three fights since leaving Frank Warren and joining Team Sauerland, stopping Peter Erdos in Hamburg before breezing past Jakov Gospic on the undercard of Joshua's grudge match with former amateur rival Dillian Whyte on 12 December. He returned to the ring once again this month, easily defeating another journeyman in Andras Csomor.
As for Joshua, the aforementioned seventh-round knockout of Whyte was comfortably the toughest test of his professional career to date and saw him retain his WBC international and commonwealth titles in addition to winning the vacant British heavyweight belt. Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn has already confirmed he is scheduled to return to the O2 Arena on 9 April, although an opponent is yet to be announced.
A potential match-up with David Haye seems almost inevitable after the latter floored Mark de Mori in the first round of his comeback fight. However, that bout is likely to be held further down the line as the 2012 Olympic gold medallist pursues the traditional title route to continue his careful development.