A LOT can happen in a week, though just how much we can never be sure. In last week’s issue this column was reflecting on comments from Oleksandr Usyk about a potential fight with Tyson Fury and positing the notion of Anthony Joshua “resetting” his career from this point.
Now we’re facing the prospect of a Fury-Joshua megafight. When Fury posted a video to social media, adorned in various sanctioning body baubles, to call out Joshua it seemed like more of a ploy than anything else. Perhaps an attempt to put pressure on Usyk and his team.
However, we then got wind that the folks handling Fury and Joshua had in fact been in contact. And that Fury had extended a 60-40 purse split offer. And Joshua had accepted those terms. For seasoned boxing fans it was somewhat surreal to see it unfold – fights of this scale are not put together so simply.
That does appear to be the case here too, though. Since then there have been countless reports about disputes over dates and venues, with Fury even imposing some sort of deadline for Joshua and his team to agree to the fight within.
We’ve not heard much in the past few days and Frank Warren, who works with Fury, told talkSPORT that is because the two of them apparently did not think it was appropriate to continue the negotiations in the wake of the death of Her Majesty The Queen.
If that is the case it’s a truly bizarre decision. A Fury-Joshua fight is being slated for early December, so if they want to get it finalised they need to act fast. With all due respect, putting negotiations on hold due to the death of a monarch makes no sense.
Eddie Hearn – who promotes Joshua – once said that when things go quiet on social media and in the news with regards to a big fight like this, it’s usually a sign of negotiations getting more serious and developing further. Perhaps that is the case here and explains why the flurry of updates on these talks ceased so abruptly.
Because we were being inundated with reports – some accurate, some not so much – about who had offered what and which dates were in play and where this could happen. It’s actually been pleasant to not hear anything because it was getting boring. In fairness, Hearn claimed that he and the Warrens had agreed they weren’t going to talk publicly about some of their discussions – for example the 60/40 split – only for Fury himself to reveal them on social media.
Part of the problem is that the public only gets glimpses of the negotiations, and only through the lens of certain figures. There are so, so many aspects of these talks that we are not privy to and so any opinions formed aren’t backed up by all the evidence. For example we’ve heard about the purse split, but nothing on broadcast rights, which is a huge hurdle to clear.
What can be said is that it’s a positive sign these sides – who are so often at odds with one another – are in dialogue. Credit should also go to Joshua himself; according to Hearn his acceptance of 60/40 and of certain dates went against advice from those around him. ‘AJ’ could have rightfully said “thanks, but no thanks” to Fury and focused on rebuilding himself before a potential showdown next year.
We continue to watch with interest, particularly if Oleksandr Usyk’s ears have been pricked by news that, if Fury-Joshua were to go ahead with a rematch clause in place, he could be frozen out for a year. We doubt Team Usyk will allow that.
As we entered fight week for the trilogy bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin, both men had been dropping soundbites and quotes about the other. Golovkin said Canelo is “out of touch with reality” due to his view on the recent defeat to Dmitry Bivol. Canelo himself doubled down on his commitment to stopping ‘GGG’ on Saturday and “punishing” him for things he has said.
It’s actually good to see some needle between these two. They are usually respectful of their opponents but there is clearly bad blood between them, which adds an extra layer of intrigue to this third meeting.
Sadly, the discussion of broadcasts this week is of one that never happened. In the wake of The Queen’s death, the excellent Sky Sports bill topped by Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall was postponed to October 15. The decision was taken out of Sky’s hands as it was the British Boxing Board of Control who declared that no fights in Britain would take place over the weekend out of respect for Her Majesty.
This was announced on the day of the card, which must have been devastating for the fighters, their teams and fans who were looking forward to watching either at the O2 in London or on television.
It was a questionable decision. Other sports, like cricket and rugby, went ahead as planned though included services of respect to The Queen. The Premier League was the most notable competition to cancel all its matches and reports emerged that part of this decision was that fans could not be trusted to remain respectful during moments of silence.
This may or may not have been a consideration of the Board, but whatever the case boxing is vastly different to the Premier League. Footballers and staff will still get paid even without matches going ahead. Clubs like Manchester City even paid their casual staff for the hours lost.
If boxers don’t fight, they don’t get paid. Neither do their trainers and other members of their teams. It’s all well and good showing respect to the passing of a monarch who reigned for so long, but cancelling sporting events at such short notice seems drastic.
Boxing on the Box
Denzel Bentley-Marcus Morrison
BT Sport 1
Coverage begins at 7pm
Lyndon Arthur-Walter Gabriel Sequeira
Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin
Coverage begins at 1am