Anthony Joshua could still face Tyson Fury in 2018 if the former heavyweight champion can regain full fitness and scale back his financial demands, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
Despite looming bouts with WBO champion Joseph Parker and WBC title holder Deontay Wilder in the New Year, an all-British world title fight remains the aim for both the Joshua and Fury camps.
Fury has only recently resumed training amid being permitted to return to boxing after having his two-year doping ban for testing positive for a banned steroid backdated, and in January will attempt to reclaim his license to fight.
The British Boxing Board of Control revoked his license due to medical issues that saw Fury take cocaine to fight bouts of depression.
Though the Mancunian has begun his campaign to return to the ring, Hearn believes several hurdles must be cleared to ensure a fight between Fury and Joshua materialises.
"There are only two reasons it doesn't happen," the Matchroom chief told ESPN. "The first is that Tyson Fury has lost all sense of reality for a deal for that fight with AJ. He wants a lot more than a 50-50 split, which is a joke.
"Second reason is that he can't get himself into a physical condition which is good enough to fight AJ.
"I've talked to Tyson Fury numerous times about it and I don't know if he was having a laugh when he was saying it's a 50-50 split or not, but we're not in a position to talk about that fight anyway for a while.
"Tyson needs one or two fights before he can fight AJ, he needs to get himself properly fit first and he knows that because I've read about him saying that.
"I saw him saying that joking aside he wasn't really doing anything serious [in training] and had a long way to go. He can't really run properly at the moment because he's so heavy so is doing other things.
"It's one thing doing 40 minutes on the cross trainer – I can do that – but it's another doing a proper camp, that's when we will find out if he can hold up. He went over on his ankle in one camp [ahead of facing Wladimir Klitschko] and stopped boxing.
"I think there's a chance for it for the end of the year. In an ideal world, AJ would fight three times against Parker, Wilder and Fury. That's a dreamland scene but we must fight two of those so if Fury has to wait, then it will be spring 2019 and Anthony is fine with that."
WBA and IBF champion Joshua expects to face New Zealander Parker – who beat Tyson's brother Hughie Fury in September – early next year, with a date of 31 March pencilled in for the bout.
The fight could see the 2012 Olympic champion return to fight at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, scene of his victory over Carlos Takam in October, though Fury remains the main target.
"If he wants to get straight in the ring with me in the summer, let's rock and roll," AJ told Press Association. "The ball is in his court but, either way, I'm ready to roll – I don't mind what we do."