Jorge Linares has his options for one final shot at a major title.

The former three-division titlist was ordered by the World Boxing Association (WBA) to begin negotiations with Dominican Republic’s Michel Rivera (22-0, 14KOs) for a lightweight title elimination bout. The two sides have until December 17 to come to terms to avoid a purse bid hearing, where the winning bid will be split 50/50 between Linares and Rivera as the two highest ranked available challengers.

It’s highly doubtful that talks reach that point, if such talks even commence.

Linares (47-6, 29KOs) has long served a favorite son of the WBA, having held the sanctioning body’s title at junior lightweight and lightweight along with having reigned as a WBC titlist at featherweight and lightweight. The 36-year-old Tokyo-based Venezuelan is currently ranked number-three at lightweight both with the WBA and WBC, while Rivera is ranked number-two by the WBA.

While there is a good chance of Rivera traveling the WBA path towards a title, Linares instead seeks the most lucrative options in the twilight of his career.

Terms were already reached for a fight between Linares and former title challenger Zaur Abdullaev (14-1, 8KOs), whose recently claimed WBC Silver lightweight title will be at stake for the fight to take place on a yet-to-be-determined date in Russia. German Titov, Abdullaev’s promoter petitioned with the WBC for the fight to serve as a final eliminator, though rejected by the WBC as the lightweight title picture remains muddled.

Regardless, it appears to be a path that Linares will choose. The fight will be his first since a 12-round loss to reigning WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (26-0, 15KOs) this past May at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

Rivera remained unbeaten following his most recent win, a ten-round decision over Jose Matias Romero on October 30 also at Michelob ULTRA Arena. The win preserved his place in the WBA rankings, having earned the spot in an off-the-canvas, eighth-round knockout of Spain’s Jon Fernandez on July 3 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The fight was classified as an eliminator for the number-two spot, with the assurance of next fighting for the mandatory contender slot.

In the event that Linares abandons talks, the WBA will call for a new eliminator between Rivera and the next highest ranked available challenger.

Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero (14-0, 12KOs) is the number-one contender but also currently the subject of a police investigation surrounding allegations of sexual assault. The active case caused Romero to lose out on an already scheduled challenge of WBA “World” lightweight titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, who now faces Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz (22-1-1, 15KOs) on December 5 from Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2, 11KOs) is currently ranked number-four by the WBA, with the opportunity to advance should he beat former IBF lightweight titlist Richard Commey on December 11 in New York City. After Lomachenko is another former IBF lightweight beltholder in number-five ranked Miguel Vazquez and unbeaten contender Roman Andreev at number-six.

Exactly who the mandatory challenger would next face remains unclear. Davis holds the WBA “World” title, while lineal lightweight championTeofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) holds the WBA “Super” title as well as the IBF/WBO belts which are on the line versus IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. (19-0, 10KOs) on November 27.

The WBA has remained committed to reducing its number of recognized titlists. Theoretically, the next move would be to order the winners of Lopez-Kambosos and Davis-Cruz to meet in a title consolidation clash. There exists the possibility of Lopez moving up in weight, which—should he beat Kambosos—would render the WBA “Super” title vacant and with the Davis-Cruz winner to become the sole recognized WBA lightweight titlist.

It’s just one more issue the WBA will need to resolve, in addition to securing an available opponent for Rivera should Linares-Abdullaev move forward.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox