Dillian Whyte’s heavyweight world title ambitions have suffered a setback with the WBC failing to order champion Tyson Fury to fight him next.
Whyte was expected to be named as the mandatory challenger to Fury’s WBC belt, a title he retained with an eleventh-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in October.
However, the WBC indicated Whyte’s legal battle – thought to focus on his frustrations at not getting a title fight – means they cannot officially call for the mandatory defence.
WBC chiefs had previously said they were intending to order a mandatory defence for Fury if he was unable to arrange a bout with new unified and WBA (Super), WBO and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk. That unification fight was effectively ruled out as soon as Anthony Joshua triggered his rematch clause against Ukrainian Usyk.
Whyte, meanwhile, was scheduled to fight Otto Wallin in a contest to determine the mandatory challenger, but pulled out because of a shoulder injury.
However, his withdrawal from that bout was not expected to affect the WBC’s order as he currently holds the sanctioning body’s interim title.
There was an expectation therefore that the WBC would name Whyte as the challenger at their annual convention on Tuesday, but they instead indicated that the ongoing legal battle made such a move impossible.
The arbitration case is believed to centre about Whyte’s frustration with the WBC’s decision-making in recent years, having spent long spells atop of their rankings but never been offered a crack at the title.
Whyte remains the interim champion title holder but the news will come as a huge blow to the ‘Bodysnatcher’ who held a press conference after his withdrawal from the Wallin fight detailing his injury and looking ahead to a fight with Fury in early 2022.
British fight fans are keen to see Whyte take on Fury – the bout would be expected to take place in the UK in what would be a long-awaited homecoming for the ‘Gypsy King’.
Fury has made Las Vegas his home since penning a deal with ESPN and Top Rank in 2019, with his last fight in the UK in August 2018 when he beat Francesco Pianeta in Belfast.
Should the WBC’s issues with Whyte drag on, Fury could still return to the UK in his next fight while he awaits the outcome of Joshua’s rematch with Usyk.