DEONTAY WILDER is in talks to fight Charles Martin in case his trilogy with Tyson Fury falters.
Wilder was dethroned of the WBC belt last February by Fury, but the pair already had a third bout contracted.
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However, the Gypsy King and his team are adamant the immediate rematch clause expired in October and as a result want to instead face Anthony Joshua.
Wilder, 35, responded by launching a mediation to salvage his crack at redemption, but talks are now progressing between AJ, 31, and Fury, 32.
The legal dispute appears yet to be resolved, but Sports Illustrated report former IBF champion Martin, 34, is being lined up as an alternative for the Bronze Bomber.
And his co-manager Shelly Finkel acknowledged Wilder has to have a back up plan if he is unsuccessful in securing a trilogy with Fury.
Finkel said: “If we can’t get the Fury fight, Deontay needs to be active.
“If it’s the worst case scenario, we are going to be prepared to get him back in the ring.”
Martin held the title for only four months, winning it only after Vyacheslav Glazkov suffered a knee injury in their fight.
The American lost the belt in his first defence, as he rolled over for Joshua in two rounds, in what was AJ’s coronation night.
But Martin is still ranked No2 in the IBF rankings, and having won his last three, emerges as a contender to welcome Wilder back to the ring.
Finkel revealed a mediator had informed Wilder that Fury was refusing to fight him.
Now, they plan to take the case to arbitration – which will be filed in the next two weeks.
Finkel said: “We’re going to go for everything we can.
“I’m a realist with what I am up against. We have an agreement. Even if we didn’t have an agreement, we gave Fury two shots.
“He has made more money than he has ever seen. Deontay was very kind to him while he was going through his mental problems.
“Forget everything else, morally he should give him his shot.”