Super middleweight contenders Fedor Chudinov and George Groves were ordered on Tuesday to fight for a vacant world title.
The WBA, writing to both fighter camps, told them they have 30 days to negotiate a deal for the bout. If the sides fail to reach an agreement a purse bid will be ordered with each fighter entitled to 50 percent of the winning offer.
Groves (25-3, 18 KOs), 28, of England, will go into negotiations during a difficult time. Groves has lost three previous world title opportunities -- twice by knockout to Carl Froch and once by split decision to Badou Jack -- but put himself in prime position for another title shot on Nov. 18, when he won a lopsided decision in his hometown of London against Germany's Eduard Gutknecht (30-5-1, 13 KOs).
However, after the fight, the 34-year-old Gutknecht collapsed in the dressing room and was rushed to the hospital. He underwent surgery to relieve swelling on his brain and has been in a coma since.
Groves expressed happiness about the title shot on social media but he has remained quiet about the fight with Gutknecht "out of respect for Eduard and his family's privacy." Groves and his team have set up a fund to help raise money for his care and he said he is planning an auction of celebrity items to also raise money to give to Gutknecht's family.
Former titleholder Chudinov (14-1, 10 KOs), 29, of Russia, is getting a chance to reclaim the belt he lost by majority decision to Germany's Felix Sturm in their Feb. 20 rematch in Germany.
After the fight, Sturm tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid Stanozolol but vacated the title before he probably would have been stripped for the failed test.
The WBA's sanctioning of Chudinov-Groves goes squarely against the pledge of organization president Gilberto Mendoza Jr. to reduce the number of world titles it has in each division. Often crowning three titleholders per weight class -- a super, regular and interim titleholder -- the WBA currently only recognizes Germany's Tyron Zeuge (19-0-1, 11 KOs) as its 168-pound titleholder after eliminating the other two. However, it will have two titleholders when the winner of Chudinov-Groves is awarded the super belt.