Tyson Fury's decision to give up his WBO and WBA heavyweight belts has removed a significant hurdle to Joseph Parker's goal of winning a world title in New Zealand in December.
Kiwi Parker, who has had a good relationship with Fury on social media, expressed disappointment for the 28-year-old Brit, but Fury's decision clears the way for a Parker v Andy Ruiz Jr fight for the WBO title - probably in Auckland, and possibly on December 10. Parker called it an "exciting opportunity which can't be ignored".
Should Parker win that fight, the biggest ever on New Zealand soil, the way will be clear for a unification fight against either Wladimir Klitschko or Anthony Joshua.
The promoters of both Parker and Ruiz Jr have already been negotiating on the basis that Fury would have been stripped of his belts due to his inactivity following his win over Klitschko last November and the fact he tested positive for, and admitted to using, cocaine.
Now there will be added clarity for both Dean Lonergan and his counterpart Bob Arum from Top Rank. There will also be a clear direction for Parker and trainer Kevin Barry to take - they will be looking for suitable sparring partners to match the size and technique of Ruiz Jr, a 1.88m fighter with freakish hand speed.
"This is a huge step in the right direction," Lonergan said from Las Vegas today.
"Three things have had to happen for us to fight Andy Ruiz for the world title - one, Tyson Fury has to be stripped, or he relinquish the belts, so that's one. Step two, Joshua - Anthony Joshua, has to sign to fight Wladimir Klitschko, that's coming up. Step three, we need to come up with an agreement with Bob Arum and Andy Ruiz. We're on our way."
Lonergan added: "I think Tyson Fury is looking to gain a little bit of favour and save the WBO a bit of drama by relinquishing the belts. [He is] trying to be a 'champion in recess' which means, should Joseph Parker beat Andy Ruiz, if we get that deal done, then Tyson Fury at some stage will be guaranteed his shot to get his belt back. It's a fight we'd be happy to have."
Parker, ranked No1 by the WBO below Fury, said from his Las Vegas base: "It's disappointing for Fury, he's been really good to me, and I hope he gets well soon, but it's an exciting opportunity which can't be ignored.
"I have my fingers crossed my promoters can stitch up a deal to bring the WBO world title to New Zealand."
Fury's decision, while not unexpected, is good news for the sport because it removes the risk of any legal action which could have put a halt to some big fights in a division going through unprecedented change.
Fury could have been stripped on the basis that he hasn't fought since his shock victory over Klitschko in Germany 11 months ago, but despite his mental health issues and the fact he isn't in a fit state to get in the ring, any decision by the WBO could have been subject to appeal.
"I feel that it is only fair and right and for the good of boxing to keep the titles active and allow the other contenders to fight for the vacant belts that I proudly won and held as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world when I defeated the long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko," Fury said in a statement.
"I won the titles in the ring and I believe that they should be lost in the ring, but I'm unable to defend at this time and I have taken the hard and emotional decision to now officially vacate my treasured world titles and wish the next in-line contenders all the very best as I now enter another big challenge in my life which I know, like against Klitschko, I will conquer."