Anthony Joshua could fight Wladimir Klitschko before the end of the year according to promoter Eddie Hearn, who described a meeting between the pair as "the most likely scenario".
Klitschko is in Joshua's sights after the Ukrainian's planned rematch with Tyson Fury this month was cancelled due the latter's medical condition.
Both boxers are said to be keen on the bout which could take place as soon as December according to Hearn, despite Joshua currently being pencilled in for a mandatory defence of his IBF heavyweight title on November 26.
"I am hopeful, both guys have it in their mind that that is going to be the next fight", Hearn told the Press Association.
"There are plenty of hurdles to overcome still and day by day we are ticking each of them off and I think there is a real expectancy from all sides now that that will be the next fight.
"Can we push that back to December? I'd like a little bit more time, that's a possibility as well. Wladimir Klitschko against Joshua is the most likely scenario."
Klitschko would be the most accomplished opponent of Joshua's career so far. The 40-year-old successfully defended his heavyweight title for a record 18 times between 2006 and 2016 but was shocked by Fury in Dusseldorf last November.
According to Hearn, he is keen not to put his training for the cancelled Fury rematch to waste and is keen to take on the Briton 14 years his junior .
"Klitschko has been training for 12 months, he has got the bit between his teeth and he wants to fight," said Hearn.
"The Joshua fight is probably the biggest out there in the division right now and it is a great fight — a young lion coming through against the master.
"Is it too early for Anthony Joshua? Maybe, but isn't that what makes it exciting? Anthony is ready for the fight and wants the fight.
"Wladimir wants the fight and all being well we can overcome the inevitable hurdles that come with a fight of this magnitude."