TALKS have begun between Anthony Joshua’s and Tyson Fury’s promoters over a possible unification showdown in Saudi Arabia later this year.
Plans to pitch the heavyweight champions in a Battle of Britain contest have so far been scuppered by Deontay Wilder and the coronavirus pandemic.
Boxing’s ability to draw an audience to stage such a huge contest at any point in 2020 is also a factor while both AJ, 30, and Fury, 31, are tied in to other major fights first.
Therefore ESPN and The Athletic report that the two camps are in talks with WBC challenger Wilder to step aside from the trilogy fight he is contractually entitled to with the Gypsy King.
Dubai-based adviser MTK Global are leading Fury’s side of the negotiations due to the poor relationship between the fighters’ promoters Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn.
A concrete offer from Saudi Arabia to host the unification battle in December is said to be incoming soon.
That fee would have to be large enough to pay Wilder to waive his Las Vegas bout with Fury – which remains a difficult prospect to meet.
Furthermore, Joshua’s summer fight with Kubrat Pulev would also have to be paid off after both contests were delayed by the pandemic.
We’ve had a number of approaches from territories to stage that fight.”
Fury has told ESPN he will “fight in Timbuktu if the money’s right” after Hearn confirmed the discussions.
The Matchroom boss, 40, said: “We’re talking to MTK about where that fight would take place.
“At the moment, the main focus for everybody [is] the contractual situations.
“The conversations between myself and MTK are that we’ve had an approach. We’ve had a number of approaches from territories to stage that fight.”
Whether the fight can take place in December or not remains to be seen with Hearn concerned that fans will still not be able to attend events by that point.
He continued: “The only discussions at the moment are where this fight takes place and we don’t even know when this fight could take place.
“We’re certainly open to have discussions about the possibility of this happening this year or in the next fight.
“There’s more chance at the moment that the bigger money could come next year because we don’t even know if we can do live crowds in November, December.”
Convincing Wilder to stand down from his third fight with Fury is a seriously tough ask given the 34-year-old harbours dreams of avenging his seventh-round knockout defeat from earlier this year and unifying the division himself.
The Bronze Bomber’s promoter Shelly Finkel told ESPN: “As far as we’re concerned, the next fight is the third fight [with Fury].”
But Fury’s Stateside promoter Bob Arum has refused to rule anything out at this stage.
The unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic has so far only served to put boxing into stasis, the ramifications of which are yet to truly be known.