LOS ANGELES -- World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury must face Dillian Whyte in his next title defense following a ruling on Tuesday by the World Boxing Council (WBC).
The WBC said Whyte has now been installed as mandatory challenger to Fury, who retained his crown with a thrilling knockout victory over Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in October.
"The WBC hereby orders the start of the free negotiations period pursuant to the WBC Rules & Regulations for the mandatory bout between WBC World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury and Mandatory Challenger and WBC Interim World Champion Dillian Whyte," the WBC said in a statement on Twitter.
The WBC initially said in October Fury would only have to face Whyte if he was unable to arrange an undisputed world title fight with Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, the unified WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion.
However after the 30-day window for Fury and Usyk to agree terms expired, the WBC have now moved to install Whyte as Fury's next opponent.
Whyte last month accused Fury of "running away" from a planned showdown.
"Fury has been mandated to fight me twice... he just keeps making excuses," Whyte told Sky Sports.
"Hopefully now he's got no choice. What's he going to do? Throw the belt in the bin and run away from more money than he got to fight Wilder?"
Usyk is expected to face a rematch against former champion Anthony Joshua in early 2022. Usyk outclassed Joshua in September to dethrone the former unified champion.
© Agence France-Presse