The World Boxing Association (WBA) have named Alexander Povetkin the mandatory challenger to Anthony Joshua's heavyweight belt.
AJ's promoter Eddie Hearn has made no secret that his prized possession wants to unify the division, and he had hoped to announce a mammoth clash against New Zealander Joseph Parker, who holds the WBO belt, before the end of 2017.
That hasn't come to fruition yet, though, and if negotiations are scuppered, then the 38-year-old Russian Povetkin will be the next challenger for one of AJ's three belts.
Povetkin defeated Romanian Christian Hammer in a final title eliminator three weeks ago in Yekaterinburg, and also knocked out Joshua's last opponent Carlos Takam in 2014.
In March 2017, Povetkin was handed a $250,000 fine and a lifetime ban from the World Boxing Council for failed drugs tests, but that ban was lifted last month.
Despite this news, Parker's promoter David Higgins is still confident that the fight will be made between his man and Joshua soon, and Higgins praised Hearn for his professionalism during negotiations.
"We have taken a giant leap forward," said Higgins.
"The fight has never been closer to reality.
"There are a few other things to be ironed out but I've been sent the contract. It's with my lawyers and I'll send if back in the next day or so.
"I'd like to pay tribute to Anthony Joshua and Eddie Hearn. Talk is cheap but they want to unify the division and they've put their money where their mouth is.
"Eddie has been wonderful to deal with. There has been no ego and even though we're the smaller side he has been respectful."
It is thought that the Kiwi wanted 40 percent of the cut from the fight, but a 30 to 35 percent share has been agreed, with Parker's belt also on the line.
The winner of the fight could then face Povetkin further down the line.
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