Promoter Hearn 'not very confident' about prospect of Joshua v Fury fight in December

Matchroom and Queensbury 'working hard to try and get the deal done' despite WBC champion's deadline demands

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Promoter Eddie Hearn says he doubts the heavyweight world-title fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will take place in December given the former’s repeated public comments, but says both Matchroom Boxing and Queensbury Promotions are working hard to get the deal done.

WBC champion Fury, 34, has been increasingly more active on social media this past week, demanding on Monday that fellow Briton Joshua sign the contract for the proposed December 3 bout. Then, on Thursday, Fury said that he had extended the deadline until the end of the day.

Speaking to The National on Thursday evening, as he discussed the world title bout between Dmitry Bivol and Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in Abu Dhabi in November, Joshua's promoter Hearn said: “We’re baffled, really. We’re all working hard to try to get the deal done, and all of a sudden we get these imposed deadlines randomly on Instagram, then [Fury's] pulled out of the fight, then he’s offered it to someone else. Then two days later he comes back and says, ‘Actually we’ll give you today’.

“It just doesn’t work like that. We’re all working really hard with [Fury promoter] Queensbury to try to make the fight. We’ve accepted all the terms, but we’ve got to paper it in the correct fashion. It’s the biggest fight in boxing, so it’s going to take a couple weeks to finalise a long-form agreement – that’s not unusual.

“But Tyson Fury says one thing, does another, and we don’t know really where we stand. But we’ll continue to work away and hopefully he’ll allow it to take its course and try to get this on. But I don’t hold my breath.”

Joshua's team have verbally accepted Fury's offer of a 60-40 purse split for December 3, which is expected to be held at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Unbeaten in all 33 bouts as a professional, Fury has held the WBC crown since February 2020. Joshua, meanwhile, failed last month to regain the WBA, WBO and IBF belts in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh, losing via a split decision.

“Obviously, it’s a split in terms of the financials,” Hearn said. “AJ has a number of commercial deals already in place and at the moment we have no say, or no final say, as to any of the deals involved with the shows, which contractually we can’t do.

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“So we’re trying to overcome that. But it’s quite complicated and it involves speaking to a lot of people. Because AJ has always been the owner of his shows ultimately, and now he’s a co-owner of a show with different broadcasters, different sponsors, different promoters. And it’s complicated.

“But we’re all in on it. Queensbury are not putting us under any pressure; they’re not putting deadlines on us. But Tyson Fury pops up and says, ‘You’ve got to sign it today’. We’re going backwards and forwards, so there’s a lot of unrealistic deadlines.

“And I think the public are just starting to see now that, actually, maybe, he’s a little bit all over the place and he’ll end up fighting Manuel Charr in a terrible fight and pretend that it’s all because it’s AJ’s fault.”

On Thursday, in a video on social media directed at Joshua, Fury said: "The ball is in your court, everything is done. We have [broadcasters] BT, DAZN and ESPN all on the same page, they're happy with everything.

“If you have any dignity and pride about you, you'll get this contract signed today. I'm chucking you a massive bone, but I know I can punch your face in so I'm willing to give you an opportunity. Let the British fans have what they want.”

On how confident he was that the fight would happen, Hearn said: “Not very confident. After the last 72 hours, I think it’ll be very difficult to be confident. But we carry on. I’ve got a call with Queensbury after this and we’re trying.

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“But if there’s a deadline that pops up … probably AJ, on Monday, should have turned around after Fury cancelled the fight and gone, ‘We’re moving on’. But we didn’t, we stayed in it, we kept trying. And I expect Fury to come out today and say, 'Right, time up again, I’m fighting Manuel Charr', which will be a huge disappointment for everybody.”

Matchroom Sport chairman Hearn said Queensbury were trying to push through with negotiations, but added that there was no way a deal could be finalised by end of Thursday.

“They know where we are up to in the negotiations and the contracts, so they know we can’t sign today, because we’ve just had their comments [on our contract revisions] back. But they’re trying to get Fury to be reasonable, which is easier said than done.”

Should Fury-Joshua not go ahead, Hearn said the plan would be to get Joshua back into the ring with two fights in relatively quick succession. He cited former WBC champion Deontay Wilder, or British heavyweights Joe Joyce and Dillian Whyte, as potential next opponents.

However, Hearn emphasised that all parties were continuing to attempt to complete the Fury deal, with Joshua already in training.

“He’s keeping himself to himself,” Hearn said. “He just sees the stuff on Instagram, which is generally a sign that you don’t want to do the fight, if you’re coming out and trying to rub people up the wrong way.

“But [Joshua's] training hard. December 3 is never ideal coming off the Usyk fight, but we were told that’s the only option. So he accepted that, he’s in training, and we’ll see what happens.”

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Updated: September 29, 2022, 5:04 PM