By Michael Benson
Tyson Fury caused a stir across the boxing world this week by unexpectedly calling out Anthony Joshua for a fight before the end of the year.
AJ, who suffered his second consecutive defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in August, has accepted the challenge and has since agreed to a 60/40 purse split proposed by the champion.
From the outside looking in, all would seem to be going well, however many of course remain sceptical this will actually come to fruition and Fury’s latest deadline has only added to these worries.
Boxing is a sport that often promises far more than it actually delivers and fans remember having been here before with Fury and Joshua just last year.
Back then, when they would have met in an undisputed title showdown for all the belts, it was Deontay Wilder’s arbitration victory that ultimately scuppered a potential Saudi Arabia showdown.
This time around, no such issue exists, but there still could be an obstruction in the way.
Joshua has accepted Fury’s 60/40 offer for a WBC heavyweight world title shot and so it does not appear as though the financial terms will get in the way of making this fight.
Fury’s offer to Joshua includes a rematch clause in case he loses. Joshua is happy to accept this.
At the moment, though, there is a dispute as Fury has offered a deal which would see the rematch split at 50/50, while Eddie Hearn has said AJ would want it to be 60/40 in his favour as he would be the champion if it happened.
Fury’s last fight saw him KO his WBC mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte, so he has no outstanding obligations.
As Joshua no longer has any world titles, neither does he.
Fury’s next mandatory likely won’t be due until late 2023 or early 2024, after the Deontay Wilder vs Robert Helenius winner has fought Andy Ruiz Jr in a final eliminator.
Fury has stated that he’s happy for fight to be a joint BT and DAZN PPV.
Hearn has said he’s already had conversations with Frank Warren’s son George Warren about ways to make the shared PPV broadcast happen.
These things are often complicated though and there is no guarantee it could be finalised.
Fury’s offer to Joshua is for a UK fight, which Joshua has agreed to despite the fact that it means the bout will generate less money than it could in the Middle East.
Warren told talkSPORT: “How we make it work is that Tyson insists that the fight is in the UK, so it’s gotta work, that’s what’s gonna happen. He wants to fight here and deliver to the British fans.”
At the moment, this is the major point of dispute.
Fury’s initial offer was for a November date, but Joshua wants the fight on December 17.
In response, Fury told talkSPORT: “I have November 26 at Wembley or Dec 3 [at Principality]. One is 11 weeks, and one is 12 weeks.
“If a professional athlete who’s shredded all year round can’t get himself in shape in three months, there’s a problem.”
Thankfully it appears as though Fury has given up claims that he is retired.
He told Ring Magazine: “I got bored with retirement. I had five months out the ring and changed my mind. Nobody believed me anyway, did they?…
“It was great. But nothing will ever compare with being heavyweight champion of the world. I love boxing. I absolutely adore it.”
Race Against Time
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way of this fight happening will simply be the limited time available to actually get it made.
Fury set a deadline of Thursday for Joshua to agree to one of his proposed dates, and the other issues such as rematch purse split and TV broadcaster would also have to be resolved.
Boxing fans will remain hopeful that Hearn and the Warrens can find a way to finalise this fight.
However, it’s known that both parties are also eyeing back-up plans for if it does not come to fruition.