News | Mar 25 2019

Could Tyson Fury become Anthony Joshua’s mandatory challenger?

Anthony Joshua would consider fighting on another platform, promoter Eddie Hearn tells John Dennen
Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua & Jarrell Miller Press Conference  |  Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

THERE is a reason Tyson Fury’s next fight is coming against an underwhelming Tom Schwarz in Las Vegas on June 15. The German is an unbeaten 24-0 and this fight will launch Fury’s new deal with US promoter Top Rank and American broadcaster ESPN. Schwarz is also ranked number two by the WBO. That raises the intriguing possibility of Tyson Fury rising up their rankings and becoming the mandatory challenger for that heavyweight belt, held by none other than unified heavyweight champion and Great British rival, Anthony Joshua.

A WBO mandatory route however would still take Fury some time to reach Joshua. Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk will be ahead of him in the queue. He was the undisputed cruiserweight champion and is now moving up to heavyweight. “Usyk’s mandatory,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “When you’re super champion and you move up in weight you become automatic mandatory. He will be the next WBO mandatory.”

Hearn expects to promote Usyk’s heavyweight professional debut in Chicago on May 17, so it doesn’t clash with Deontay Wilder’s WBC title defence against Dominic Breazeale on the 18th in New York. (Hearn would also like Britain’s WBA super-middleweight champion, and Usyk’s fellow World Boxing Super Series winner, Callum Smith to box on that card.)

Wilder is fighting on broadcaster Showtime for his next contest but Hearn has not entirely despaired of the American eventually meeting Joshua in an undisputed heavyweight title clash. “If they had done a three or four fight deal with Showtime it would have made things very difficult. The fact that they’ve come out and said one fight leaves the door open,” Joshua’s promoter said.

While Joshua is boxing on streaming service DAZN, he could in theory box Wilder on Showtime or even Fury on ESPN. “Our plan is to stay with DAZN for the future,” Hearn said, “but they know that he wants the Wilder fight and if he received an offer that makes sense to do it on another platform, that will be considered. But no platform would pay more than DAZN so we feel like we’re in the right place.”

The champion is not dwelling on such things right now. He is focusing on his June 1 defence against Jarrell Miller. Hearn noted, “When he boxed Parker, everyone was talking about Wilder and he boxed a bit cautiously in that fight as he was thinking about the Wilder fight afterwards.”

Anthony Joshua vs Jarrell Miller

Even though DAZN has just changed its pricing plan from $9.99 a month to $19.99 a month or $99.99 a year, Hearn has no doubts that the channel will continue to richly reward its fighters. “You haven’t got to worry about that,” he said with a grin.

“If you [as a viewer] are going to dip in and dip out, you’re going to have to pay a premium for that benefit [now],” he added. “People are now saying ‘they’re going to go pay per view’. They’re not but they’ve got that many pay per view [standard] fights coming scheduled and planned I think they’ve got to be able to say this is the deal, no free trial.

“You’re getting Canelo-Jacobs, Joshua-Miller, Usyk, our UK cards, some Bellator stuff all for $19.99.”

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