Hughie Fury or Tony Bellew next for WBO champion Joseph Parker
The WBO is adamant Joseph Parker's next fight will be Hughie Fury but the Kiwi champion's handlers are refusing to rule out striking a step aside deal that could see them instead chase a lucrative payday against Tony Bellew in the UK.
In an underwhelming display, Parker secured a comfortable points win over Razvan Cojanu on Saturday to retain his WBO world title, and will now bid farewell to hosting fights in New Zealand.
All that remains is plotting his path to enter the booming UK market.
Fury pulled out two weeks before his scheduled shot at Parker in New Zealand, citing a dubious back injury.
WBO Asia Pacific vice president Leon Panoncillo said the organisation had no choice but to retain Fury as Parker's next challenger.
"Fury is the mandatory," Panoncillo said. "The injury has been proven by documentation submitted to the WBO. We don't know the severity of it or if it's a hoax. But he does have proof from a doctor that he was injured and that's legitimate for us to declare him as still the mandatory. Parker has to defend the title against Fury within 120 days."
Panoncillo indicated there were only two ways Parker could take on Bellew, or anyone else before facing Fury.
Fury would have to opt for another fight, or Parker could make a unification bout with Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF and IBO champion, or Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC crown.
"There is no way around it," Panoncillo said. "Parker has a mandatory - if Fury is unavailable we'll go to the next available contender.
"The president and the championship chairman would want to see a unification. If there is a unification against Joshua or the other organisation it would be considered because it is a higher prize.
"The best thing is for Parker to get exposure in another country. Bob Arum is working with him - he could take him to the States.
"People around the world are saying 'who is Joseph'. They haven't really seen him on an international stage. If he was fighting in Vegas or at Madison Square Garden against a name fighter it might be different and he would get that recognition."
Instead of staging a title defence against Fury, who mucked them around, Parker and promoters Duco would rather set up a fight with Bellew, the English cruiserweight who moved up to shock David Haye, albeit on one leg after he ruptured his Achilles.
Bellew has been vocal in regularly calling out Parker, viewing him as the easiest of the heavyweight champions. A possible showdown at Liverpool's Goodison Park in August has been touted.
Like Joshua, Bellew is promoted by Eddie Hearn, who unlike the Furys, Duco boss David Higgins has a solid relationship with.
"It's a fact that Hughie Fury is the mandatory challenger. We respect the WBO and the president. We haven't addressed that issue yet," Higgins said.
"If we want to we'll have a good look at that. We could roll into Hughie Fury - we could try put it in Samoa, in England or wherever. We remain the purse bid winner. Or we could look at challenging that, which would be a big call.
"In boxing deals happen; camps make deals. You might leapfrog one and give someone a shot or you can challenge things - often there are lawyers involved.
"Nothing is what is seems in boxing.
"Technically on paper, yes, Hughie Fury is the challenger - and that's not a bad fight. He's got a name and we think Joe does the business against him.
"Do we trust them? Jury is out a bit. You can manage that through contracts and the way money flows.
"There's deals to be done."
Despite the major disruptions, stress and significant loss of revenue Fury's late withdrawal caused, Higgins indicated animosity could be put aside.
"You'd be surprised how quickly those problems disappear. It's a matter of finding a win-win and you can't hold grudges. You take the emotion out. If Hughie Fury is the best fight; the best money and the best way to build Joe in the UK that's a fight we'd do.
"If the Furys meet the terms we want we'd go to the UK. If they don't, then we'll look at doing it somewhere else."
Parker and trainer Kevin Barry both oozed confidence when the prospect of meeting Bellew next was put to them.
Higgins said Parker's next move could be sorted within three weeks.