The team behind light heavyweight contender Maxim Vlasov is negotiating a fight sanctioned as a final eliminator to set down a mandatory challenger to the WBO title, according to the manager of the Russian boxer, Oleg Bogdanov.

Back in April, Vlasov lost what he felt was a controversial twelve round majority decision Joe Smith - in a fight for the vacant WBO light heavyweight belt.

One judge scored the contest a 114-114 draw, while the other two saw it 115-113 and 115-112 for Smith.

The victory left him with a record of 45 victories (26 of them inside the distance) with four defeats.

Bogdanov also noted that Vlasov parted ways with Las Vegas-based promoter Top Rank.

"We are negotiating with the WBO so that Vlasov will be appointed as a mandatory contender to take part in an eliminator. With the Top Rank promotional company, we did not renew the contract by mutual agreement," Bogdanov said to Vasily Konov.

Initially, Vlasov was set to face Umar Salamov in a final eliminator - with the winner to face Smith for the vacant WBO belt. Because Salamov was forced out due to COVID-19, it allowed Vlasov to face Smith for the vacant belt. And now Smith is bound to make a mandatory defense against Salamov. 

The WBC and IBF light heavyweight belts are owned by Artur Beterbiev of Russia, and the WBA (Super) title belongs to another boxer from Russia, Dmitry Bivol.