Dec 17, 2020
Close•Reports on boxing for ESPN.co.uk, as well as several national newspapers
•Has been reporting on British boxing for over 15 years
•Appears on BoxNation’s Boxing Matters show
Promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren have agreed world title belts could be dropped in order to make Tyson Fury versus Anthony Joshua a reality in 2021.
Both sides started negotiations this week for the rival world heavyweight champions to meet next, after Joshua stopped Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds on Saturday.
But there are obstacles to overcome with mandatory defences and claims that both fighters have other fights that must be completed first. WBC champion Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) has been contracted to face American Deontay Wilder in a third fight first in 2021. WBA, IBF and WBO champion Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) has been told he needs to make a mandatory defence of his WBO belt against Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk next.
As a solution, promoters of Joshua and Fury are exploring the idea of one or all of the belts not being on the line when the two English boxers meet.
But Warren, who co-promotes Fury along with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, wants Hearn to convince Usyk, the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, to agree to wait for his title shot. Hearn promotes Usyk as well as Joshua.
“It will not make any difference what belts they are fighting for because the public are not watching for the belts, they want to just see them in the ring, but we want them on the line because it’s the first time all four world heavyweight titles could be unified,” Warren told ESPN.
“Whatever it takes to make the belts on the line we have to try. He [Hearn] has got Usyk so it’s up to him to make Usyk step aside.”
Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) insists he has a contractual right to a rematch after Fury stopped him in seven rounds in February and has taken legal action to ensure Fury’s next WBC title defence is against him.
Promoters of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are exploring the idea of one or all of the belts not to be on the line when the two English boxers meet. Photo by RINGO CHIU,FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images
“We’ve not heard anything on the arbitration,” Warren added. “They say they have got a case but we’ve been told they haven’t got a case because contracts can’t go on forever.”
Hearn said dropping all of the belts in order to make the fight happen in 2021 is a possibility and told Matchroom Boxing at an event to promote Gennadiy Golovkin- Kamil Szeremeta in Florida this week: “We have a fight on our hands and, sorry to the governing bodies, that eclipses all belts.
“We’ve just got to be a bit careful because you may be on the verge of going, ‘Let’s just get rid of politics right now. Let’s just drop all the belts because if we lose one belt, we might as well lose them all.’
“The aim of this fight has always been for the undisputed championship. We will do whatever we can to make sure every belt in boxing is on the line for the Tyson Fury fight.
“What we won’t do is be held to ransom and we won’t let politics get in the way of a fight that boxing needs.”
With the plan to match Joshua against Fury by May, staging the fight outside of the boxers’ native England and instead in the Middle East is an option.
“Everyone wants to see the biggest fight out there,” Warren said. “We can only put it on at Wembley Stadium [in London] in front of 90,000 if we are allowed, but at the moment we are COVID-restricted.
“If we go overseas with it [outside of UK] for a site fee, which ever country puts it on will have to feel comfortable with a crowd or will be doing it for the prestige.
“We are determined to make this fight happen. We want to get it on April or May. But no one can say what’s going to happen at the moment, they have just stopped allowing fans at Premier League football in London this week.”