A rematch between heavyweight world titlist Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury was already under discussion between the camps, but on Wednesday the World Boxing Council ordered the sequel, meaning it is likely to happen.
"Consistent with the WBC board of governors voting regarding the direct rematch between WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, the WBC is hereby notifying both camps that the free negotiation period is opened," the WBC, which sanctions the title belt that Wilder holds, said in a statement.
The sanctioning body further said that if the camps do not strike a deal, a purse bid will be held on Feb. 5.
Typically, a mandatory WBC world title fight would give the titleholder 70 percent of a winning purse bid and the challenger would receive 30 percent, but the WBC rules allow it to modify the split in some cases. So, if Wilder-Fury II goes to a purse bid -- which is unlikely - the split would be 60 percent in favor of Wilder and 40 percent for Fury.
In announcing the modification of the usual split, the WBC said it had considered "the market value of Fury."
On Dec. 1, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Wilder and Fury treated fans to a classic heavyweight title fight that generated around 325,000 buys for Showtime PPV in the United States. Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches but Wilder also scored two knockdowns, one in the ninth round and a thunderous one in the 12th round, after which Fury shockingly beat the count and was able to continue.
The fight was ruled a draw -- 115-111 Wilder, 114-112 Fury and 113-113 -- as Wilder retained his belt for the eighth time.
After the fight, Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs), 33, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), 30, of England, both forcefully said they wanted an immediate rematch. A week after the fight, the WBC said it would approve a second fight, meaning Wilder's mandatory challenger, Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs), would have to wait longer for his turn.
Shelly Finkel, one of Wilder's managers, told ESPN on Wednesday that their side is ready to make a deal.
"We've been talking about it but now things will get serious," Finkel said.
He said he had no issue with Fury getting 40 percent if the fight goes to a purse bid because "he deserves it."
Finkel said he hopes that the fight will take place "sometime in late May. I could be June but I would hope May."
A rematch would likely take place in the United States. Frank Warren, Fury's promoter, told ESPN late last week that they remain interested in the rematch and acknowledged that it would likely be in the U.S. after at first talking about the prospect of the fight being in the United Kingdom.
"We're trying to make that fight at the moment, everyone wants the fight and most importantly the fighters want it," Warren said. "The venue is looking like the U.S. That's where the money is. ... Tyson is already in the gym working hard, ticking over, and I think we would get it (the fight) before June."