The mega-fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua is on the brink of being called off, with alternative opponents for both Britain’s world heavyweight champions already on stand-by.
Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum said on Thursday night: ‘We keep passing deadlines for Eddie Hearn to deliver the deal he keeps talking about and we are out of time. Once again he is saying next week but next week never comes.’
Legal arbitration about Deontay Wilder’s right to a trilogy fight with Fury, who sensationally knocked him out to gain the WBC world title, have been delayed even longer than the Joshua contract but have been accelerated this week in New York.
Anthony Joshua’s fight with British heavyweight rival Tyson Fury is under serious jeopardy
A two-fight deal had initially been agreed between the heavyweight champions in March
Wilder is back in training and Arum added: ‘Fury-Joshua looks dead in the water. Tyson has been out of action for too long and has to fight this summer. Who else is he going to fight other than Wilder? A third fight between them is huge in its own right.’
Oleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, is also back at work in the gym as the mandatory challenger for one of Joshua’s collection of belts and is ready to step in against AJ.
Hearn is still insisting that a $150million (£108m) deal for a mid-summer battle between Joshua and the Gypsy King remains in the Saudi Arabia pipeline for this summer, saying: ‘It is definitely, 100 per cent, going to happen.’
Bob Arum (left), Fury’s US promoter, has slammed Eddie Hearn for not delivering a deal
AJ’s promoter, Hearn, has been confident that the heavyweight bout would be confirmed soon
Arum retorts: ‘Eddie only has one fight left with his Joshua contract and he is desperate for it be this big one. Usyk is a a good fight but not as huge as Tyson and AJ. But it doesn’t look possible now before next year or even the year after. Like Tyson, Joshua needs to fight soon.’
Hearn protests that he has been carrying the work-load of finding a country willing to pay a site fee massive enough to meet both boxers’ expectations of one hundred million dollar purses, adding: ‘A little support would be nice.’
Arum and Fury’s UK promoter Frank Warren said that when the various, complex tasks of a fight of this magnitude were allocated between them, Hearn insisted on handling the search for a site.
Arum has now talked up a trilogy fight for Fury with American rival Deontay Wilder
Under Arum’s TV contract with ESPN, the US Disney-owned giant, Fury can still expect a hefty pay-night in America against Wilder, with help from BT.
Unless the biggest Brit battle ever can be saved – and next – Sky will have to rejoin the bidding for UK rights to what might yet end up as a Wembley blockbuster.
If so, that would delight British fans, even though there will be massive, widespread dismay at another delay. Even more so if Joshua v Fury never happens.
Oleksandr Usyk is ready to step in against Joshua if the deal with Fury does collapse