Updated: May 19, 2021
The ever-present problem of boxing politics strikes again. The ‘Biggest fight in boxing history’, the crowning of the Undisputed World Champion. Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury has been put in doubt.
This isn’t a new issue but it does not make it any less frustrating. Here’s the lowdown of what the hell is going on with the Joshua vs Fury fight.
14th August. The date that should’ve been marked. But Daniel Weinstein, the arbitrator in the Tyson Fury/Deontay Wilder rematch dispute had other ideas. He ended up ruling in favour of Wilder, deeming Fury guilty of not fulfilling the rematch clause in the 2-fight deal signed after the controversial draw of Fury-Wilder 1.
Fury side argued that since the Team Wilder were not agreeing to a 2021 date, the rematch clause was in their eyes nullified, allowing negotiations between Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom and promoter of Anthony Joshua, and Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank and promoter of Tyson Fury, to commence.
Due to the rematch clause not being on Team Fury’s mind, negotiations were going well, even getting to a point of a Fury announcing on his Twitter account he will be fighting Joshua in Saudi Arabia on August 14th. This would’ve crowned the first Undisputed World Champion of the Heavyweight Division since Lennox Lewis became Undisputed World Champion when he beat Evander Holyfield on 13th November 1999.
The big news, that hit on 17th May, sent the heavyweight division into disarray. Eddie Hearn was incredibly being shocked and disappointed in the decision that happened, judging from his recent interview. In his eyes, he felt he had been working tirelessly for months to get the fight over the line, only for Team Fury not to do their due diligence on their side in regards to the Wilder rematch.
There were reports that Hearn had secured a $155 million fee from the Saudi government to host the event in Jeddah, the largest site fee any boxing event has ever had.
Reports have come out that Bob Arum has already reserved a 24th July date in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium to host Fury-Wilder 3. In an interview with ESPN, Arum said that he and Team Fury will not be paying the ‘step-aside’ money that Wilder would need for the fight to be put on hold so that the Fury/Joshua fight could go ahead first. ‘Step-aside’ money is money given to a mandatory challenger for a boxer’s Championship Belt so that boxer can go ahead with other fights. Arum also stated that “It’s better to get rid of him and go about our business. We can make the Fury-Joshua fight for November or December.”
Reports from Team Fury suspect that the step-aside money that Wilder would request £14 million ($20 million) in terms of his step aside money, but Team Fury are reluctant to pay the fee on Joshua’s behalf.
Tensions boiled from Joshua, publicly callout out Team Fury on Twitter in the evening of 19th May. This led to a Twitter spat between the two online, both acting as if the other half had put the fight in doubt due to their negligence and lack of due diligence.
The WBO have also set a timer on their belt, Oleksandr Usyk being the mandatory challenger. Usyk’s promoter’s have been in constant contact with Hearn and the WBO in case of any fall through in the negotiations between Joshua and Fury. Anthony Joshua and his team now have 48 hours to rectify the situation with Fury, or else the mandatory will be called by the WBO and Joshua vs. Usyk will have to happen first unless Joshua gives up the WBO belt. The cherry on top we all needed.
Wilder, now working with trainer Malik Scott after firing Mark Breland, has definitely thrown a wrench into the works here. Working with a new trainer as of only recently, does he have the time to engrain a new coach’s ideas and tactics into his arsenal in just over a month’s time? This of course if Fury-Wilder 3 is the main priority of Top Rank.
Just get the fight done. Boxing politics has and is restricting fans from seeing the fights we want to see. Mayweather/Pacquaio happened 7 years too late due to this. Crawford/Spence will never get over the line because of the promoters they have. But Joshua/Fury was the fight we all perhaps naively thought could get over the line. Only time will tell as to if/when it happens.