‘Joshua Versus Fury More than the Belts’

Tyson Fury (left), wants Anthony Joshua in Heavyweight Unification Clash

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury’s collision course could be the moment to “take charge of the sport” with a new attitude towards the recognised championship belts, says promoter Eddie Hearn.

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua and WBC title holder Fury are deep in negotiations over two fights this year which would crown the division’s undisputed No 1.

But two of the main stumbling blocks are Oleksandr Usyk’s status as WBO mandatory challenger and Deontay Wilder’s claim for another chance at the WBC title.

Fury and Wilder’s dispute is “not an issue”, according to Hearn, but Usyk is digging his heels in – the Ukrainian’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk told Sky Sports that they “never gave consent” to the proposed undisputed title fight.

Hearn told Sky Sports: “I spoke to WBO president Paco Valcarcel and said: ‘You are in a tough spot because, probably, in a couple of weeks’ time I will write to you and say that we’ve made one of the biggest fights in boxing history’.
“’Paco, are you on board?’
“He will say: ‘Have you spoken to Usyk?’
“I will say: ‘Not yet. I am asking you – do you want to sanction this fight or not?’
“He will either say ‘yes, on you go’ or ‘I can’t until you talk to Usyk’.
“Then I’d go and talk to Usyk.

Joshua and Fury are in talks over an undisputed title fight
“Imagine my conversation with Fury and Joshua: ‘To keep all the belts on the line you’ve got to pay three per cent to the governing bodies [which equals] £1.5m you both individually have to pay plus Usyk wants a couple of million’.
“They would say: ‘What?’
“This fight is bigger than the belts. This is undisputed. AJ wants to be the undisputed champion but isn’t this fight even bigger than that?
“Isn’t this fight the answer to all of our questions?
“Who is the best? Who is the baddest man on the planet? Who is the best heavyweight?
“At some point we have to take charge of the sport and say: ‘No more’.

“But first I will do everything that I can to keep the belts on the line. For me, that is the glory – seeing AJ covered in every bit of silverware. That has always been his aim.

“Once they’ve fought for the undisputed championship, if the belts become fragmented then so be it. But I’d just love that moment to crown an undisputed champion.”