Tyson Fury has been ordered to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time, casting doubt over his eagerly anticipated August super bout with Anthony Joshua.
Fury, 32, won the WBC world heavyweight title from Wilder in a rematch in February 2020 after an initial draw.
The pair were due to fight again but delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic prompted Fury to seek an alternative.
On Monday a US judge ruled in mediation that Wilder has a right to face Fury for a third time before 15 September.
The American’s team had long argued their fighter had a contractual right to a third fight with Fury.
But after delays caused by the pandemic led to a July 2020 contest being postponed, Wilder’s team sought to move the bout to 2021.
Fury refused the 2021 date and said he would move on. That prompted mediation overseen by American judge Daniel Weinstein, who has now sided with Wilder and set a 15 September deadline for a third contest.
Monday’s arbitration hearing comes a day after Fury confirmed he had agreed to fight fellow Briton Joshua – holder of the IBF, WBA and WBO belts – for all four heavyweight world titles in Saudi Arabia on 14 August.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has also said several times that the August bout was in place, with terms agreed.
The ruling does not necessarily mean a Fury-Joshua fight cannot take place in August but fresh deals will now need to be struck for it to do so.
And this could mean Wilder being offered money to allow Fury-Joshua to take place.