Joshua Buatsi and Jean Pascal have both accepted an invitation from the IBF to enter talks for a sanctioned final eliminator.
The pair, who campaign at light-heavyweight and have respective ledgers of 16-0 (13 KOs) and 36-6-1 (20 KOs), will now enter a period of free negotiation to work out terms.
Buatsi, the Olympic bronze medallist from Rio in 2016, was most recently in action at the O2 Arena in London when he outpointed former world title challenger Craig Richards, while Canada-based Haitian Pascal, 39, dropped Fanlong Meng en route to a 12-round unanimous decision in May. That fight took place at the Whitesands Events Center in Plant City, Florida.
The winner of the eventual eliminator will become the IBF mandatory challenger to lineal and unified champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs), the Canada-based Russian who also holds the WBC and WBO titles.
Both fighters have until August 11 to reach a deal and avoid a purse bid hearing, with Buatsi – ranked number three – entitled to 60 per cent of the winning bid and number six-rated former WBC champ Pascal getting the remaining 40 per cent.
However, before the winner of this fight gets to take on a crack at world honours, Buatsi’s fellow Brit Anthony Yarde is in pole position. His promoter, Frank Warren, is understood to have done a deal with Beterbiev and Top Rank for the champion to travel to London – at the O2 Arena – and defend his crown.
It is understood that Pascal’s team are keen to travel to England to meet Buatsi and details regarding the making of the fight are expected to relatively straightforward.