We wait, we wait, and we wait. The 100% British heavyweight unification shock between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua has not yet been formalized. And Fury’s camp is starting to sink into pessimism. Quite the opposite of that of Joshua, who continues to evoke a close agreement. But warns if things are not settled until next weekend.
A few years ago, before their in-ring date in May 2015, Dan Rafael (he worked for ESPN at the time) created a color barometer on Twitter – called “the threat level” – to give his readers an overview. idea of the progress of negotiations between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao and the proximity of the formalization of their fight. Six years later, the American journalist split a message on social networks to “threaten” with a smile to put it back in place. Reason? Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury, the long-awaited heavyweight unification fight, the first four-belt in the history of noble art. Which is slow to materialize.
The camps of the two Britons have an agreement since the summer of 2020 for the sharing of the purses of two shocks planned this year. In mid-March, Eddie Hearn, boss of Matchroom Boxing and promoter of Joshua (WBA Super-IBF-WBO champion), had once again confirmed the agreement. It only remained to agree on the place, essential to finance the affair, the date and a few other details. There were thirty days to get there. But since then, almost nothing. The deadline has passed and nothing has been formalized. Hearn however put the cover by affirming that an agreement had been found for the place, a priori Saudi Arabia which would have proposed more than 150 million dollars according to Mark Kriegel (journalist for ESPN), with a possible date of July 24. , July 31 or August 7.
But still nothing that comes. What to worry about? It depends on who you listen to. Top Rank boss and co-promoter of Fury (WBC champion and The Ring) with Frank Warren, Bob Arum has been pessimistic in recent hours. “If I had to bet if this fight will happen or not (within the time frame imagined), I would say no, he says on the magazine’s website. The Ring. As far as I can see, this thing with Eddie (and Saudi Arabia) is just a mirage. “Which the experienced promoter explains by his young counterpart’s willingness to secure the biggest fight possible before his contract ends. with “AJ”: “Eddie is desperate. He only has one fight with Joshua left and he wants it to be the one against Fury. But if this fight is postponed to winter, Joshua will have to face Oleksandr Usyk (his official and mandatory challenger for the WBO, note) and it’s not such a big fight. Eddie is in desperate mode. “
“Aren’t you a pessimist?”
And Arum, who is due to discuss the situation with Warren via Zoom this Thursday, concludes: “Eddie is not on schedule. He hasn’t spoken to us for two weeks!” He had developed a few hours earlier for the BoxingScene site: “The last time I spoke to Eddie was early last week and he told me he was going to have an agreement signed from the Saudis in the twenty-four hours. He’s a little late… Wouldn’t you be pessimistic if you hadn’t heard from him or anyone else in a week? ” The Top Rank boss, who traveled to California with Tyson Fury on Tuesday to meet with the mediator in charge of arbitrating the dispute over a potential third fight with Deontay Wilder, even threatens to “go to negotiations” with the puncher American.
It must be said that Bob Arum is a scalded man. According to the boss of Top Rank, he had negotiated in recent days an agreement for a welterweight clash between the American Terence Crawford (WBO champion) and the Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao for June 5 in Abu Dhabi. The two boxers agreed, a deal had even been signed but the money promised by local investors did not arrive before the deadline set. And he’s scared to see it happen again with Fury-Joshua and Saudi Arabia. In these times of pandemic, where filling a room to the hangers to compensate for the investment is a pipe dream (a priori one of the main reasons for the failure for Crawford-Pacquiao), the fear can be justified.
“If everything is not completed by the end of next week, we will have a problem”
But Hearn, who had managed to mount the revenge between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia, brushes aside doubts. He even has his explanation for the exit of his counterpart. “Bob tries to put the pressure on, it’s his way,” says the boss of Matchroom to BoxingScene. He thinks it’s a bit slow and he gives an interview thinking it will speed things up in the Middle East. . But we don’t need to play this. Everyone’s on board, let’s go through this process properly. Time is running out and if we come to a situation where the venue agreement is not signed in less than a year. ‘One week, we’ll have to start looking at things. But nobody has a plan B, which is a good sign. Bob can say whatever he wants but Tyson won’t face Wilder, it’s a fight that doesn’t. worth nothing. Normally I have plans A, B and C, but that’s all for this fight and it will happen. “
And the British promoter continued: “All parties have signed a contract, we got a fantastic deal for the venue and the two boxers agree financially, on everything. What takes longer than expected are back and forth to finalize the long format deal. It’s frustrating but it’s not just a question of signing. There is the Fury camp, the locals who are to host the fight, the broadcasters… C ‘is a massive deal to put in place but we will get there. I won’t stop until I cross the line. If it falls apart, and I don’t think it will happen, it won’t be our The fight is too big, the two boxers want it too much, you just have to keep pushing for that. ” Hearn goes further on the talkSPORT mic and gets wet: “If it’s not all done by next weekend, then we’ll have a problem. But I believe you’ll have an announcement next week.”
“Shut up and wait for the contract to arrive!”
The Matchroom boss, who sometimes seems to struggle on his own in this story, takes the opportunity to scratch his Top Rank counterpart: “We’re supposed to be partners in this fight. But the only one I see working is me. And I won’t stop. I texted Bob asking for an explanation of his statements. He said I had to go faster I told him I was going as fast as possible. it’s all on my shoulders. Everybody’s like, ‘Eddie has to go faster, Eddie has to do this or that.’ But I’m alone walking the planet to make sure this fight comes up. promise it will happen. I’m a one man army but I’ll make it happen. Everyone’s a little frustrated but we’re dealing with the same people that helped organize Joshua-Ruiz there, we have already negotiated with them, they paid the money at the time, they are solid, professional, and they like that things are done properly. Bob has never had to handle such a huge deal for a venue. Let me handle this, we’ll make it happen. If you’re going to leave me alone to negotiate, shut up and wait for the contract to arrive! This fight will take place and I can’t wait to see Joshua knock Fury out. “
The “animosity” between the two camps evoked by Arum – who also doubts that Joshua can accept July 31 or August 7 when his main coach, Rob McCracken, will be at the Tokyo Olympics with the British boxing team – is palpable. Can she bring down the most anticipated fight of noble art? A priori, no. But the more time advances, the more the evidence grows: either things are settled quickly enough, or everything could explode and everyone move forward in their own corner before meeting up later. With the second solution, as too often in boxing, it is the public who would drink.