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IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch has been ordered by the governing body to start negotiating his mandatory title defence against James DeGale.
Froch must agree to defend his title against DeGale by the end of January or his mandatory challenger will be allowed to face Andre Dirrell for the belt.
The Nottingham-born star has not fought since his sensational stoppage against George Groves at Wembley back in May 2014, and he has previously hinted that he could retire if he doesn’t land his dream fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Las Vegas this year.
The 37-year-old is adamant that he will not fight DeGale as it isn’t a big enough fight to motivate him at this stage of his career, but with promoter Bob Arum suggesting that a fight with Chavez Jr won’t materialise, it remains to be seen what Froch opts to do.
However, what is certain is that DeGale has established himself as his mandatory challenger for the IBF strap after convincing wins over Brandon Gonzales and Marco Antonio Periban last year, and he will likely move ahead with plans to face Dirrell if Froch is not willing to fight him.
Lindsey E Tucker, the IBF Championships chairman, told Sky Sports: “We sent him a letter on December 31, ordering him to start negotiating with mandatory challenger James DeGale.
“They have 30 days to negotiate. If they don’t reach a decision, then we call for a purse bid.”
Dirrell currently sits behind DeGale in the governing body’s rankings and so the pair will likely be in line to face each other for the vacant belt. Meanwhile, Dirrell’s brother, Anthony, is expected to defend his WBC title against George Groves later this year.