Jorge Linares-Javier Prieto Dec. 30

Injured Omar Figueroa Jr. was stripped of his lightweight world title on Monday and given the designation of "champion in recess" by the WBC, paving the way for Jorge Linares and Javier Prieto to battle for the vacant 135-pound belt.

Linares (37-3, 24 KOs), a former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist, will face Mexico's Prieto (24-7-2, 18 KOs) for the vacant title on Dec. 30 in Tokyo, according to matchmaker Robert Diaz of Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Linares and Figueroa.

Linares, who is from Venezuela but lives much of the year in Japan and has fought there regularly, was Figueroa's mandatory challenger. However, Figueroa (24-0-1, 18 KOs), 24, of Weslaco, Texas, suffered a terrible gash over his left eye from an accidental head clash with Daniel Estrada in their Aug. 18 title bout. Figueroa won by ninth-round knockout to retain the title, but with the cut -- which became infected after the fight, necessitating further treatment -- keeping him sidelined for several months, the WBC made its move.

Figueroa has said he wants to move to up to the 140-pound junior welterweight division, but should he remain at 135 pounds, the WBC mandated that the Linares-Prieto winner must face him when he decides to return to the ring.

The WBC said the reason for Figueroa's demotion was to "allow him to take the necessary time to heal and to begin training without any time pressure" of a mandatory defense.

Linares and Prieto are the organization's top two leading available contenders.

The fight is a chance for Linares to claim a third title in a third weight class.

"I truly believe Jorge is at the best moment in his career and come December he will show it," Diaz said. "With that being said, I believe 2015 will be his best year yet. Bigger fights versus the best out there."

Linares, 29, has won six fights in a row since suffering consecutive knockout losses, a 12th-round stoppage against Antonio DeMarco for a vacant lightweight title in October 2011 followed by a shocking second-round knockout to Sergio Thompson in March 2012.

Prieto, 27, of Mexico, is coming off back-to-back 12-round draws with Ivan Cano in May and September and will be boxing in his first world title bout.