Tyson Fury has been ordered to fight Deontay Wilder for a third time, casting doubt over a proposed 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.
Wilder’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 from the contest over claims the contract had expired.
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.
Joshua’s camp is still optimistic that a fight can take place in August but fresh deals will now need to be struck for it to do so.
That could mean Wilder being offered money to allow Fury-Joshua to take place.
“It’ll cost quite a bit of money. He will want as much as possible so I think it’ll be about the negotiation if we go down that road,” said Joshua’s promoter Eddie Warren.
If it goes ahead, Joshua versus Fury will be the first bout in heavyweight history where all four world titles are on the line.