Tony Bellew believes an agreement to fight Oleksandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) is "inevitable", but has warned the Ukrainian it must happen this year.
Negotiations between the two camps are already underway as Bellew (30-2, 20 KOs), who is due to retire at the end of 2018, looks to secure one final clash against undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk.
"The first meeting was good and it looks inevitable at this stage," Bellew told Sky Sports. "Things can change though, you just don't know how it all lands. We'll see. We haven't agreed a venue yet and other things, but it's looking likely now.
"It is moving in the right direction. We've got to agree something and get it written down on paper and we'll take it from there. Eddie [Hearn, promoter] is happy, I am happy and there has been no major demands on my part, as I don't feel there needs to be.
"It has to be done this year, this year is my last year in the sport. I won't be fighting in 2019, I'm done at the end of this year. I should've been done in March this year."
Bellew, 35, was last in action against David Haye in May, where he secured a fifth-round stoppage.