Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury Heavyweight Fight in Serious doubt as Deontay Wilder throws hat in the Ring
The Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua heavyweight superfight seems to have fell through only days after Fury announced the fight will take place on August 14.
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said as much back in March.
There has now been almost 11 months of substantive discussion regarding this battle, including the fact that the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to schedule the match at a period when paying spectators might not be present in a stadium to see it.
However, with fans returning to Joshua vs Fury live stream concerts, an end to the stalemate seemed to be close.
The battle had a date — August 14 — and a location — Saudi Arabia — that was said to be costing a reported site charge of $US155 million ($200 million), with each fighter winning just short of $97 million until pay-per-view money was added.
Fury declared earlier this week on social media that the battle was “100% on” after getting guarantees on the arrangements from Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud.
Then, just one day later, an arbitrator decided that Fury had to honor his deal with Deontay Wilder by battling him a third time before September 15 — effectively killing the chance of an August date with Joshua.
So, what is the actual status of the most awaited heavyweight battle in recent years?
Joshua considers Fury a thief and a “fraud.”
Despite both fighters’ proclivity to voice their frustrations online, the debate over this new loss was unavoidable.
“@Tyson Fury the universe now knows you for the liar you are,” Joshua posted on Twitter.
“You’ve let boxing down! You lied to the people and pushed them on.”
Fury, never one to step away from a Twitter feud, retorted that the arbitration was known to everyone of Joshua’s staff and that it was out of his control.
He then gave a hollow challenge to Joshua to compete bare knuckle this weekend for a pot of $40 million, which Joshua, predictably, declined, claiming, “I’ll smack your bald head and you’ll do nothing.”
He then backed up his point by sharing a video of Fury watching a fist battle while ringside at the Canelo lvarez-Billy Joe Saunders fight last weekend, claiming “a fence holding you back, not even a bouncer.”
Fury responded by calling Joshua a “dosser,” a “bum,” and a “bottlejob,” but tellingly added that he will “smoke Wilder first, then you’ll get yours as well,” apparently suggesting that the Wilder war would take place and putting an end to talk of unification for the time being.
Would Fury have to face Wilder?
It seems the Fury would have to face Wilder before taking on Joshua.
This seems to be on Bob Arum’s mind as well, not least because he has provisionally booked the current Las Vegas stadium for a fight on July 24.
Step-aside money is often charged to a boxer to sweeten the bargain while he or she is owed a mandatory match that must be postponed in order to make room for a better fight.
Fury reported that Wilder’s step-aside fee was $26 million, saying, “looks like I may have to break his skull again.”
Malik Scott, Wilder’s new trainer, stated on Instagram that Wilder has “no interest in step-aside capital” and “wants blood.”
Every clash between the two would be fraught with animosity.
After Fury persuaded Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel in their second encounter, Wilder offered an extremely bizarre list of excuses for his defeat, including that his extravagant mask was too bulky, Fury’s gloves were illegal, and his corner was against him.
With Wilder remaining between Fury and a shot at fellow Englishman Joshua — not to mention a monstrous payday — there would be ample bad blood to set up an exciting end to the pair’s trilogy.
What would Anthony Joshua do?
Hearn said that he had “no plan B” in terms of another rival for Joshua, throwing all of his energies into winning a war with Fury.
However, after allowing Fury’s camp a week to settle their condition with Wilder, he revealed he had begun to consider a battle between Joshua and the WBO’s mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
Usyk, who has an 18–0 record and was the undisputed cruiserweight champion between 2018 and 2019 before moving up to heavyweight, is a phenomenal talent who has only competed twice at heavyweight.
In 2019, he defeated virtually unknown American Chazz Witherspoon before winning a majority decision against Derek Chisora in his most recent fight in October.
Joshua has already defeated one mandatory opponent, the IBF’s Kubrat Pulev, who he knocked out in the ninth round in December.
Can Joshua vs. Fury happen?
It might always happen in August, but it’s a long shot right now, because a lot would rely on what happens in their interim battles.
Joshua would do well not to underestimate Usyk, who, like Joshua, earned gold in the heavyweight category at the 2012 Olympics. Joshua was the super heavyweight winner.
Usyk is still regarded as one of the strongest pound-for-pound boxers in the country, and he would put the reigning champion to the test.
Wilder was defeated by Fury in their previous meeting, but the Bronze Bomber has the highest knockout ratio of any current heavyweight.
The 35-year-old has a record of 42 victories from 44 fights, 41 of which were by knockout, including 20 in the first round.
The only fighter he has not defeated is Fury, who won a tie in their first encounter (despite a considerable knockdown in the 12th round) and beat Wilder in his last match.
Wilder, as one of the most lethal punchers in heavyweight division history, is a strong contender to spoil the all-British crowd.
Why will this war have been so memorable?
This reconciliation war was widely expected since it occurs quite infrequently.
For those that are new to boxing, there are four formally recognized boxing regulatory bodies.
The World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Organization (WBO) (WBO).
There are several smaller organizations, such as the International Boxing Organization (IBO), which Joshua actually holds, but they are not deemed big prizes and appear to float out from the spotlight.
But bringing the four champions together for a fight is difficult and very unusual.
There have only been six contests in the 33 years since the WBO was established in 1988 when all four belts were on the line — notwithstanding the fact that the WBO belt has only been deemed an integral part of the collection for the last 15 or so years.
Just four wrestlers, Terence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, and Oleksandr Usyk, have ever worn all four belts at the same time.
This weekend, Scottish boxer Josh Taylor will face José Ramrez at super-lightweight.
An eighth bout is also planned for later this year, as Jermell Charlo and Brian Castao square off in Tim Tszyu’s super-welterweight category.
The last unified winner of the blue riband division was Lennox Lewis in 1999/2000.
Never before have all four heavyweight belts been on the line in the same battle.
Unified champions don’t last long.
Each organization has a mandatory challenger that may take the belt away from the holder if they do not reach their mandatory under a certain time period.
With all of the politics that come with having four major sanctioning bodies attempting to corral a slew of fighters and promoters into these battles — particularly with such a large sum of money at stake — bringing these huge fights across the line is difficult to say the least.
Nonetheless, boxing enthusiasts want to see the best battle the best, and this delay, even if just brief, risks alienating those backers.