Whoever emerges as the winner between secondary heavyweight titlist Ruslan Chagaev and challenger Francesco Pianeta, he will have to make two mandatory defenses in a row.
Chagaev faces Pianeta on Saturday at the GETEC Arena in Magdeburg, Germany, but the winner will not have much time to enjoy the victory.
In July 2014, Chagaev (33-2-1, 20 KOs), who is from Uzbekistan but based in Germany, outpointed Chicago's Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs) in Grozny, Russia, to win the vacant secondary belt -- Wladimir Klitschko, who already owns a knockout victory against Chagaev, reigns as the world champion -- and contractually owed him a rematch. When his handlers instead arranged the fight with Pianeta (31-1-1, 17 KOs), who is from Italy and based in Germany, Oquendo sued and won an injunction to stop the bout.
The sides eventually settled with Chagaev being allowed to face Pianeta as long as the winner next faces Oquendo within four months of Saturday's bout. The winner of that bout will then be obligated to take on Australia's Lucas Browne (22-0, 19 KOs).
"Ruslan will be very busy in the next months," promoter Timur Dugazaev said. "Of course, we believe that he will beat Pianeta, Oquendo and Browne. It might very well be that we promote all three fights before the end of the year."
Said Chagaev: "I will defend my title against whoever crosses my way. I don't care who my opponent is -- if it's Pianeta, Oquendo, Browne, [Deontay] Wilder, [Tyson] Fury or Klitschko. I respect every opponent but I am not ducking anybody. Right now all that counts is the Pianeta fight. We can talk about everything else after that."
Ulf Steinforth, Pianeta's promoter, sees his man winning Saturday.
"Francesco is well prepared and ready for this huge fight," he said. "We will, of course, follow all orders by the WBA in case Francesco brings home the belt. But, to be honest, we are not thinking too much about that right now. We are fully focused on Saturday night and the big event."