The World Boxing Organization on Friday selected unbeaten Brooklyn welterweight Sadam Ali as the mandatory challenger for welterweight champion Timothy Bradley.
Bradley promoter Bob Arum told The Times minutes after the decision that he's already close to finalizing a deal for Cathedral City's Bradley to fight Oxnard's Brandon Rios on Dec. 12 at the Forum.
"We'll work that out. We'll work out a deal for Ali to step aside and make the Rios fight," Arum said.
Ali promoter Oscar De La Hoya said it's "too premature" to discuss the scenario now.
"I'm going to speak to Arum and Ali and see what they want to do," De La Hoya told The Times in a text message.
The 26-year-old Ali (22-0, 13 knockouts) claimed a lesser WBO title in November by scoring a ninth-round technical knockout of veteran Luis Carlos Abregu. Ali won again on April 25 by unanimous decision over Francisco Santana at Madison Square Garden in New York.
He's the WBO's top-ranked welterweight contender.
Days after defeating Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision in Carson, Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs) claimed the welterweight belt when the WBO stripped it from Floyd Mayweather Jr. in July for failing to pay his sanctioning fee.
Bradley, 31, originally won the WBO belt with his controversial split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao in 2012.
He defended it with narrow decisions over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez, then suffered his first loss, to Pacquiao, and had a draw last year with Argentina's Diego Chaves.
A Southern California showdown with Rios (33-2-1, 24 knockouts) would match Bradley against a former lightweight world champion who engaged in a trilogy against Colorado's Mike Alvarado. Rios' victory in the first meeting was a classic in Carson.
Rios has also lost to Pacquiao. He defeated Chaves by disqualification last August.
Arum said he understands why WBO President Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel designated Ali the mandatory challenger.
"Paco is following his rules. If you fight for a vacant title, you've got to fight the [No. 1 contender]," Arum said.
Arum said he would explore with Ali's promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, the possibility of making an Ali fight with Vargas on the same card, televised by HBO, while setting up a scenario where the winners fight each other in 2016.
Arum said of making Bradley-Ali now, "I can't sell that to HBO."
If Ali and Golden Boy declined to step aside, Arum said he still preferred making a Bradley-Rios bout without the belt on the line.