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Grigory Drozd exercises right to face Tony Bellew by year's end

Mairis Briedis is Bellew's current mandatory challenger.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Current WBC Cruiserweight Champion-in-Recess Grigory Drozd has announced his intention to face newly-minted champion Tony Bellew by the end of 2016, a right granted him by the organization after stripping him of said belt.

Drozd (40-1, 28 KO), who turns thirty-seven this year, dominated Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in September of 2014 to earn the belt, then knocked out Lukasz Janik last May in his sole title defense. He was twice booked to face Ilunga Makabu, whom Bellew (27-2-1, 17 KO) knocked out last Saturday, but was forced out due to injury, resulting in his current status.

Drozd claims he will be ready in "autumn or winter," a delightfully ambiguous statement that could keep Bellew out of action for a while. World Boxing News mentions that Eddie Hearn could presumably ask for a voluntary defense, which would actually be pretty fair considering the timeframe involved.

Or he could just take on mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis.

It's a solid fight provided Bellew steps up and Drozd doesn't disintegrate again. Getting to the top wasn't the hard part, Tony.