EDDIE HEARN today revealed that he remains “100 per cent” confident that Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury will fight in the summer, while indicating that an outdoor arena in Saudi Arabia is in place to host. According to the promoter three dates are in play for Joshua-Fury: July 31, August 7 and August 14.
Hearn is growing frustrated with conflicting reports coming from Top Rank and Bob Arum, Fury’s international promoter. In recent days Arum has said a number of things: That Fury might again fight Deontay Wilder – who is back in training – instead of Joshua; that Hearn is not taking his calls; that he would not be surprised if the Joshua-Fury deal fell through.
“I would appreciate a bit of positivity from them,” said Hearn when asked why Arum seems so keen to downplay the heavyweight showdown. “I’m under pressure to make the fight but all this ‘Eddie needs to hurry up’ and ‘Eddie needs to sort it’ is driving me mad. We’re supposed to be partners in the event. It doesn’t seem like that. He [Arum] said we haven’t spoken in a week, I spoke to him Thursday and Friday. All the lawyers spoke on Sunday.”
The contract, the financial terms of which have been approved by all parties, is currently in the hands of four lawyers to finalise. There is a letter of intent from the hosts in place. Once the contract is in a position to be signed, Hearn expects there to be some final discussions on minor points before everything is agreed.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Hearn. “I think they [Top Rank] don’t believe. I don’t think they’ve been involved in a deal of this size. I know these are serious players. When they put it in writing that it is happening then it is happening but you have got a number of lawyers who have to sit across it, one might be in London, one is in LA, one is in the Middle East. It takes two days to get comments on the draft. I expected it to be signed by now but it could be signed by Friday. I just think they don’t believe it because they’ve not been involved in a deal like this.
“I’m 100 per cent confident this happens but I’m a positive person. I’d appreciate some positivity from them [Team Fury]. All this stuff about ‘Hearn is desperate, he’s running out of time’ and I think you lot have some cheek because they’ve done nothing, not one meeting, not one phone call.
“It won’t be a case that the fight doesn’t happen because of the site. If something weird is going on with them, and they choose not to take the fight… but I don’t see that happening. Fury is happy with the money and the deal. I think they’re going to sign it. There is too much money involved for anyone to turn it down.”
Saudi Arabia would now appear to be the only country in the running to host the fight.
“I’m not saying anything but Bob has confirmed it [is Saudi Arabia] already,” said Hearn. “We know the city now, we know the venue plans, we know everything. We are probably four or five days where I would have liked to have it done. But I know these people. How Bob is now [doubtful about Saudi] is where I was before the Joshua-Ruiz rematch. I didn’t think it was genuine and then all of a sudden they’ve transferred millions of pounds.
“These people don’t f**k around, you don’t draft letters of intent unless it’s all sorted.”
Hearn said both fighters wanted to fight in an outdoor arena. The temperature has been mentioned as a problem, particularly in the summer in the Middle East, but Hearn insists that won’t be an issue because the fight will take place late at night.
“If it is early August, it’s 24 or 25 degrees outside. That’s what they [the fighters] want to do. It’s hotter than that in the O2.”
Another obstacle, and it could be a sizeable one, is the proposed dates clashing with the Olympics. Joshua’s coach, Robert McCracken, is head of Team GB and would be expected to be in Tokyo. As things stand, the boxing tournaments will start on July 23/24 and conclude on August 8.
“That’s a conversation they’ve got to have [Joshua and McCracken],” said Hearn. “But I’m sure something can be sorted out.”