Eddie Hearn believes that boxing’s governing bodies will face a reckoning as he attempts to make an undisputed fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
The IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO champion is set to agree a deal with the WBC and Ring title-holder in the coming days, with a location for a first fight said to be agreed.
There is an obstacle to agreeing a fight for all five major belts because Oleksandr Usyk has a claim to a mandatory challenge for Joshua’s WBO belt, while Deontay Wilder continues to demand a trilogy rematch with Fury.
Hearn, and Fury’s co-promoter Bob Arum, expect that Fury will not be forced into another fight with the Bronze Bomber, but the Matchroom promoter does see more difficulty ahead with the WBO and the Ukrainian former cruiserweight.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hearn said: “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.
“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’.
It’s been another disruptive start to the Year but we have overcome the hurdles and are almost ready to announce our first run of shows for 2021 – stay tuned! 👌 @matchroomboxing
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) January 8, 2021
“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.”
Usyk’s last fight saw him defeat Dereck Chisora to retain his designation as the WBO mandatory, and he is reportedly in early negotiations with Hearn to at least delay his demands for a fight. Joshua has also suggested that he would be prepared to give up his WBO belt in order to move straight onto Fury.
Hearn suggested a path forward, saying: “We could say to Usyk: ‘Set a fight with Joe Joyce, maybe for the interim belt’.”
“Usyk is a classy guy. He is a boxing guy through and through.
“Even in his position he will see that AJ vs Fury is so good for boxing. Does he want to stop the undisputed championship fight?
“The fans won’t like it, if he does.
“But we can’t just disrespect him and say: ‘Wait’.
“We have to come up with something. The answer that I see is for him to fight Joe Joyce.”
Joyce has recently said he is keen to fight Usyk but will make sure he fights this April, whoever his opponent is. Hearn, meanwhile, believes that the complications of four major bodies is becoming an obstruction.
“Now is a pivotal time in terms of belts and politics because we can’t afford to necessarily be restricted by the rules and requirements of governing bodies,” he said.