Promoter Eddie Hearn is again in the firing line after the Matchroom Boxing CEO confirmed Fury vs Joshua would not happen.
Anthony Joshua has now officially walked away from a 60-40 purse split of the biggest UK heavyweight fight in two decades. Missing two d-day deadlines didn’t matter in the end, as Hearn said the fight could not be done in two weeks.
Tyson Fury has since begun camp for his next WBC title defense on December 3rd. And after Hearn confirmed a fight on DAZN for the same date, there’s no chance of a u-turn by Joshua.
Anthony Joshua walks away to a non-title fight
Instead, the Londoner is eyeing a December 17 bout of his own that will mean a first non-heavyweight title event for AJ in six and a half years.
The two-time world champion beat Charles Martin for the IBF crown in March 2016. He added the WBA super and WBO versions until losing them all to Andy Ruiz Jr.
Three defeats in his last five bouts, two to Ukrainian master Oleksandr Usyk, mean Joshua again holds no titles.
And due to his inability to stipulate another contracted rematch, Joshua will compete for no world championship upon his return.
Fury’s promoter Bob Arum, who handles business in the United States, is firmly putting the blame for that at the door of Hearn.
“He wanted to kill it because even as late as yesterday [Monday] if he’d have said let’s all get together. He’d have said let’s all sit in a room and get everything finalized.
“It could have been done in a couple of hours,” Arum told Sky Sports.
Fury vs Joshua went smoothly until Hearn
On DAZN and BT Sport getting together for a joint Pay Per View, Arum added that all went smoothly until Hearn entered the discussions.
“I mean, really sad because I really believed both fighters wanted this fight to happen. The first issue was the different networks involved.
“So, there was a meeting held, and all the networks signed off. They found a way to do it.
“But now, Mr. Hearn got involved, and he didn’t want the fight to happen from the get-go. He slow-played it.
“I’ve been in this business almost 60 years, so I can tell when somebody doesn’t want something to happen. Then they slow-plays the negotiation.”
Joshua verbally agreed to a 60-40 and then 50-50 two-fight deal with “The Gypsy King” for December and April 2023 onwards for the rematch clause.
But somehow, from Joshua saying yes – to talks getting more serious, a block was placed to halt the finalization.
Eddie Hearn sabotaged Fury vs Joshua
Arum is sure that’s down to only one man – Eddie Hearn.
“Once the percentages were decided, there were no real issues. You could sit in a room for three hours and get everything finalized.
“But Hearn refused to do it. I think that was terrible on his part because I know Frank Warren and George, partners from Queensberry, were prepared to meet personally with Eddie and get everything worked out.
“I mean, there were no issues for a fight not to happen. There are [then] issues because one promoter doesn’t want it to happen. He is in a stalling position, and it’s to my mind reprehensible.”
On Hearn stating that Arum predicted the fight wouldn’t go ahead as soon as Joshua accepted the terms, the Hall of Famer responded: “Maybe I said that I thought it wouldn’t happen, but that’s because I knew Eddie.
“I knew that Eddie would find a way to sabotage the fight.
“Now, I mean, isn’t that ridiculous? ‘Bob said the fight wouldn’t happen; therefore, it’s not my fault.’
“What are you talking about? Get in a room with Frank Warren and his son George, work out a couple of issues that are really nothing, and get the fight on.
“But, Eddie Hearn has nothing left really in his stable. He is clinging to AJ as his only potential attraction,” concluded the Top Rank boss.
AJ and Fury opponents
Joshua now looks likely to be facing an also-ran contender at Wembley Arena to get some confidence back. Joshua looked like a fighter lacking in real self-belief in those three contests he lost in New York, London, and Saudi Arabia.
Maybe the pressure of carrying so much and so many people into headlining PPVs on his back has been getting to him since 2019?
It certainly seems that way. But where does he go without Fury or Usyk? – Well, Deontay Wilder and his old rival Andy Ruiz Jr. are also off the menu.
Wilder fights Robert Helenius on October 15. Ruiz will fight the winner in the first quarter of next year.
Without the Fury fight, Joshua is basically looking at scraps. A return with Dillian Whyte or a Zhang Zhilei battle could happen next as UK fans of AJ are forced to get to grips with forking out for non-title events on DAZN PPV.
Fury’s team and promoters Frank Warren and Arum can concentrate on an opponent for the fight Dec 3rd, but maybe not at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in Wales.
Derek Chisora and Mahmoud Charr are the current frontrunners. The final venue will be dependent on who gets the nod.
If it’s Chisora, Fury may get away with staging at a Stadium – but only just. If it’s Charr, Tyson Fury’s fight will almost certainly need to be at an arena.
UK fans will feel like they’ve gotten mugged compared to what they seem likely to get and what they could have had in Fury vs Joshua.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of Phil Jay.