Plans for a ‘Battle of Britain’ are under way after Anthony Joshua beat Kubrat Pulev on Saturday to stay on course for a potentially titanic double-header with Tyson Fury in 2021.
The two world heavyweight champions from the UK both want to fight next year, but there are issues to be resolved.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what needs to happen for Joshua and Fury to face off and firmly decide who is the best in boxing’s top division.
While an agreement in principle for the duo to clash has been in place since the summer, it is still to be signed off. However with both promoters Eddie Hearn and Bob Arum, plus the two key men involved, eager to get this fight arranged, it appears only a matter of time before a deal is reached. Hearn insisted on Saturday it could take as little as “a couple of days” for an agreement to be confirmed, with the two fighters to get an equal share from the first bout and the winner to get a 60-40 split from fight two.
A TV deal will have to be struck and there are some complications, with Sky having an exclusive deal with Joshua, while Fury has similar terms with ESPN. Both fighters also have matching deals with DAZN and BT respectively. All four could agree to share the rights and it is highly unlikely any would do anything to jeopardise one of the biggest fights in boxing history.
The signs point towards the first fight being hosted in the Middle East, with the coronavirus pandemic unlikely to allow full capacity at sporting events in the UK before the summer. If Wembley cannot host 90,000 spectators in May or June, it may have to wait for the second bout later in 2021. Finance-wise, the money on offer from countries like Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia means even if only a limited crowd are in attendance, this would still be one of the most lucrative events in sporting history with the fight potentially worth up to £200million.
@anthonyfjoshua looked sensational against @KubratPulev. As to the @WorldBoxingOrg belt, @EddieHearn knows the meaning of commitment; the ball is in Hearnâs court. @usykaa @AKrassyuk @KlimasBoxing @Tyson_Fury @DanRafael1 @boxingscene @SteveKim323 @pugboxing @JakeNDaBox— Paco ValcÃ¡rcel, Esq. (@PacoValcarcel) December 13, 2020
Two other heavyweights could have a say in whether Joshua-Fury is able to go ahead. The WBO are keen to ensure Joshua fights mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, although Hearn has already confirmed they would be willing to vacate that belt if it meant the clash with Fury is made. An alternative would also be to talk to the Ukrainian and set him up to face either of the Brits in 2022. A bigger problem is Deontay Wilder, who exercised the right to face Fury for a third time only for the contract to expire with the fight not arranged – partly due to the coronavirus pandemic. If Wilder goes to court, they could declare Fury has to go up against the American for a third time and any hopes of a bout with Joshua in the summer would be over.