As enticing as a September showdown with Tyson Fury is, Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua just aren’t sure whether to take Fury seriously.
Hearn is performing his due diligence by exploring that intriguing heavyweight title fight with Queensberry Promotions’ George Warren, just as he did last fall. Unless something changes, however, Joshua doesn’t want to deviate from his plan to face Dillian Whyte sometime in August in England and, assuming Joshua wins their rematch, proceeding to a very lucrative fight against Deontay Wilder in December in Saudi Arabia.
Hearn, Joshua’s career-long promoter, explained during an appearance on “The DAZN Boxing Show” on Tuesday, that Joshua’s side is awaiting a contract from investors in Saudi Arabia this week for the Wilder fight. Hearn also assured co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes that no one from Joshua’s team has received a contract for a Fury fight in September, despite Fury’s recent post on Instagram about sending one.
“No, no truth in that at all,” Hearn said. “He didn’t send a contract to us, 258 [Management], Anthony Joshua. What happened was George Warren sent us an email to say, ‘Look, we’d like to talk about the fight in September. Same terms as last time. We had some positive conversations. What do you think?’ I called him straight up and I said, ‘Look, we’re planning our fight in August and we’re planning on fighting Deontay Wilder in December.’
“It’s very difficult for me to – I mean, I spoke to AJ about it. He said, ‘Isn’t he fighting Jai Opetaia or Demsey McKean or Jon Jones?’ He’s been fighting three guys the last four days. So, AJ said, ‘Look, I can’t put my trust in canceling my August and December fights to fight this guy in September, when we just don’t know. Like, do you trust him?’ I said, ‘I know they would like to discuss the fight. My job is to go through that process with George Warren and see the legitimacy of it.”
Once contract negotiations with Oleksandr Usyk’s team ended two months ago for an April 23 title unification fight, England’s Fury tentatively was scheduled to return to the ring July 22 at Wembley Stadium in London. The unbeaten WBC champion’s handlers had trouble securing a suitable opponent for that date, thus they’re now focused on returning in September.
Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) most recently fought December 3, when he easily defeated Dereck Chisora (33-13, 23 KOs) by 10th-round technical knockout at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
England’s Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) is already training at Derrick James’ gym in Dallas for a fight with Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs) on an undetermined date in August.
“Obviously, we see what happens in Saudi this week,” Hearn said. “They want the Deontay Wilder fight. AJ’s got that in his head. It’s a huge fight, huge money fight. And he’s got the fight in August, which will develop and ready him for that fight with Derrick James.
“So, that’s our plan and we’re not gonna deviate from that plan on the basis of some Instagram hope. But it’s also my job to go through the process, see how real that opportunity is. And if August and particularly the Deontay Wilder fight doesn’t materialize, absolutely he’ll fight Tyson Fury next.”
Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their rematch and viciously knocked out the former WBC champ in the 11th round of their third bout, but Joshua-Wilder remains one of the most attractive heavyweight fights that can be made. Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) knocked out Robert Helenius (31-4, 20 KOs) in the first round of his only appearance since his second defeat to Fury in October 2021 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Joshua comfortably outpointed Jermaine Franklin (21-2, 14 KOs) in his last fight, a 12-rounder April 1 at O2 Arena in London.
“We all know AJ against Wilder is a dream heavyweight matchup, one of the biggest in the sport,” Hearn said. “And we’re up for that fight. We’ve committed to those conversations. There’s been conversations. And we’ll see, as I said, what happens with Saudi this week. But we need, obviously, a formal contract for that, which they’re working on.
“But that is our plan, you know, ideally Dillian Whyte in August, Deontay Wilder in December. If there is an opportunity to do a Tyson Fury fight, and we have to scrap the other two, I’m sure that will be looked at as well. … But we don’t want anything to get in the way of AJ’s plans. He’s in camp now in Texas, training for his August fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.