IT has been reported by Sky Sports that WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and WBC titlist Tyson Fury have reached a financial agreement on a two-fight deal. According to Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, the first bout “could happen” in the summer of 2021.
But hold the champagne.
“It’s absolute bullshit,” said Frank Warren when Boxing News approached him moments after the story broke.
Fair to say, then, that Fury’s UK promoter does not share Hearn’s view that there is news to report.
“We all know it’s a 50/50 split and it’s two-fight deal that’s being discussed but there’s nothing new here,” Warren – frustrated that the story had broke before contracts had been signed – continued. “It’s all about Hearn. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
Nonetheless, we should all be optimistic that progress is being made. It’s no secret that Fury and Joshua talk regularly and are eager to fight each other.
The problem, of course, is that they can agree all manner of things but the world of heavyweight boxing – which last year saw Andy Ruiz Jnr emerge from obscurity to knock out “AJ” before order was restored in the rematch – is a minefield of promoters, politics, sanctioning bodies and broadcasters. Then there’s egos to appease, other fighters to swerve and a pandemic to emerge from.
At the moment, the coast isn’t exactly clear.
Hearn also promotes Dillian Whyte and he stated that the WBC No.1 contender “should” get his shot at Fury beforehand.
There was no mention of Deontay Wilder, the former champion, who was scheduled to take on Fury at the end of the year. The pair fought to a 12-round draw in December 2018 before Fury stopped Wilder in seven rounds four months ago. Fury has since said on social media that he’s “got to smash Deontay Wilder first then annihilate Anthony Joshua.”
Joshua, spotted last week in a knee brace and crutches, is expected to take on Kubrat Pulev next.
“We’re making great progress,” Hearn told Sky Sports. “There is a lot to overcome. We’re looking at venues and dates.”
“We’ve been talking to [Fury’s management team] MTK, giving them the assurances from Joshua’s side that all the details on the structure of the deal is approved from our side. And it is from Fury’s side, as well.
“We’re in a good place. It’s fair to say that, in principle, both guys have agreed to that fight. Two fights.”
But Hearn’s words should be examined carefully.
He went on to say that “no contracts had been signed” and there’s “a lot to overcome”. At risk of being a party pooper, it would seem there’s a long way to go.
“[There’s] a lot to overcome in the meantime. We’re moving in the right direction. I’m confident that both guys have given their blessing for the fight to go ahead.
“The point of Fury, Joshua and the teams agreeing to the structure of the deal? The first fight could happen next summer. It will be 2021.
“There is a big period of time where Whyte should get his shot at the title. That’s important to us. The main positive news is that Joshua and Fury have agreed to a two-fight deal, in essence.
“The most difficult part of any deal is the financial element. I believe we’re in a great place where both guys have agreed to what that should be.
“We have not signed contracts because there are still things to be worked out. We’re pushing towards a place where they can be drafted, for 2021. Both guys are in agreement. The structure of the deal has been put forward, and agreed to by both parties.
“There is a model in place that both parties are happy with.
“It’s the biggest fight ever in British boxing. It doesn’t get bigger, and there will never be a bigger fight in our generation.”
That much is definitely true. Should Fury-Joshua occur, it will be beyond huge. But until a broadcaster or venue has been agreed – and Boxing News understands that the fight will not happen in the UK and there are four sites under consideration – then any deal will have plenty of loose ends.
But we should remain positive. It’s worth noting that we never once heard any kind of confirmation that Joshua and Wilder had agreed on anything back when that was the biggest fight in boxing.
So for today’s news, which at the very least tells us that Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are moving together in the right direction, we should be thankful.