By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com has been advised that the World Boxing Council has ordered immediate negotiations between WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs) and top contender Anthony Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs).
If they are unable to reach an agreement during the free negotiations period, then the sanctioning body will hold a purse bid on Friday June 22.
Last year, the Benavidez and Dirrell were scheduled to fight each other for the vacant WBC title - but Dirrell withdrew with an injury, and he was later replaced by Ronald Gavril.
Dirrell holds the number 2 ranking under the WBC. Callum Smith, who is part of the World Boxing Super Series tournament, is ranked at 1.
Dirrell previously held the WBC title and lost the belt by way of a close twelve round majority decision to Badou Jack in April of 2015.
Since that loss, he's won five fights in a row - with his last appearance being last month's dominating decision win over Abraham Han.
As BoxingScene reported last week, Benavidez had reached a deal to defend his title against former Olympian Matt Korobov (28-1, 14 KOs) of Russia on July 28.
And that contest would be part of the Showtime televised undercard to the planned lightweight unification between Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter, which would take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
There is no clear indication, at least not yet, if the WBC's recent order will in any way affect Benavidez-Korobov.
Benavidez retained his world title back in February, when he won a dominant twelve round decision in his rematch with Ronald Gavril. The fight was a rematch of their contest from September 2017, when Benavidez got off the floor in the twelfth and final round to win a close twelve round decision to pick up the vacant WBC title. Because of the close nature in the first contest, the World Boxing Council sanctioned the rematch.