Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua – what happens now as Fury frustration grows?
Since Anthony Joshua beat Kubrat Pulev in December, boxing fans have been waiting in anticipation for news of the super fight they all want to see: Joshua vs Tyson Fury. There’s little doubt the ‘Battle of the Brits’ would be a huge sporting highlight well beyond the ring and capture the imagination in the UK. But, as with many proposed big fights, the pathway to the fight happening is far from easy. Here is where the two camps stand on the hugely anticipated, proposed mega bout. What has happened? Tyson Fury has expressed frustration that the mega-fight for the undisputed heavyweight crown with Anthony Joshua “is no further forward today than we were a year ago”. This in spite of the promoters on both sides having reported in January and February that a contract is going back and forth between the lawyers of the respective teams. The blockbuster fight between WBC champion Fury and IBF, WBO and WBA champion Joshua is set to be the richest fight ever between two Britons with the protagonists expected to earn £100 million each. A two-fight deal has been agreed between the pair with a 50/50 split for the first contest, and a 60/40 split for the winner/loser in a second encounter. At present, the Middle East, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, is the favoured location for the first fight, with the organisers aiming to have the second fight in the UK late in the year. What has Fury said? Fury, clearly frustrated at the contract dragging out, stressed in a video interview with ESPN, his paymasters in the USA, under promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank boxing company, that he will fight twice in 2021, regardless of whether the Joshua fight goes ahead. “I should have boxed [in December 2020], because I’ve been so inactive. I’ve been out for over a year. By the time I fight again, looking at maybe June if this Joshua fight happens, that will be a year and six months out of the ring, which is not ideal preparation for any super fight,” explained the unbeaten 32-year-old. “They’ve had a full year to try and make this fight happen,” Fury said. “Since the last [Deontay] Wilder fight, even before the Wilder fight, they were talking about a fight potentially between me and Joshua. They’ve had a full year to make something happen, and it hasn’t happened as of yet. It is what it is. We’re no further forward today than we were a year ago.” What does Joshua think? Cryptically, that all contradicts a tweet by Joshua earlier this week in which the IBF, WBA and WBO champion appeared to give an update on the fight, saying: “Another positive meeting with 258 Management. They’ve informed me things are shaping up nicely. They will be sharing the update with Eddie [Hearn] and you’ll be hearing from me soon.” Joshua has also this week branded himself as ‘the boss’ in this fight, adding that a fight is being worked on for June this year. “They have been working in negotiations. They updated my promotional team about how things are going, they updated me. “It is getting close to things being normal. We’re working on a date for around June. So if Tyson is serious, which I think he is, he’ll know where to come and fight the boss. I’m ready. I’m really looking forward to competition – all I want to do is fight, fight, fight. I can’t wait to get back in the ring.” So what is going on? Major fights often take weeks, even months to complete. Arum, Fury’s promoter, has said that matters were moving along, and told The Telegraph: ”that it is akin to two major companies merging”. “The negotiations have been pleasant, it’s proceeding like every big fight does,” explained Arum. “We made changes, they accept some, they send it back, back and forth. And all I can say is that the issues are gradually dwindling.” “That’s what you want to do in this type of situation, you want to diminish the number of issues. And now the number of issues is less than a handful, so I am very optimistic that this is gonna go over the line.” Will the fight be made? The Telegraph understands that the contract is moving forward towards finalisation, with the finer details being agreed, before the promoters tender the bids from territories aiming to host the fight. “The way [COVID-19] is at the moment, I don’t think [negotiations] got much to do with the fighters. It’s to do with the venue, date, place, site fees. It’s to do with everything but the fight itself,” said Fury. “If that fight doesn’t happen this summer, it’s got to happen sooner or later,” added Fury. “But Top Rank has to give me two fights this year. I will fight two times on [Top Rank network partner] ESPN. I don’t care who it is. If it’s not Joshua, we’re looking to fight in April or early May, and the end of the year. If it is Joshua, then June and the end of the year. Bang, bang. So, 2021 is looking bright.”