Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury fight 'very likely' heading for Middle East
Promoter Hearn says heavyweight blockbuster is 'on the verge' after both fighters accepted offer from host country to stage event
The undisputed heavyweight world championship fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury looks "very likely" to be heading to the Middle East, with the deal even set to be sealed this week, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
The Matchroom chief, who promotes Joshua, said on Monday that the much-anticipated tussle between the British boxers is “on the verge” after both accepted an offer from a host country to stage the event.
Saudi Arabia has long been the frontrunner, with Fury’s co-promoter, Bob Arum, saying last week the bout was heading to Jeddah.
Hearn, who previously confirmed an option of three dates across the end of July or early August, told Sky Sports News: “Everybody knows it’s very likely the fight is heading to the Middle East … Bob Arum is not the best at keeping secrets”.
Hearn added: "People doubted we would achieve the site fee. We have achieved that. Now we have to make sure the fighters are happy with the contractual position from the site, which is straightforward and is something we've done before.
"It is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. We're in a strong position. Both fighters have signed the contract to fight. Both fighters have now agreed to an offer from a site.
"Loads of calls at the weekend and last night to finalise the contract, longform, for the site. Time is of the essence. Literally, we are in the second or third round of the final site longform agreement. Hopefully, this week, we can be in a position where it is all done.
"It's never done until the ink is dry, but there are no obstacles to overcome, except to finalise the paperwork and get it announced. I've not seen a fight fall through at this stage before. We're on the verge now. But we still have to finish the job and that's the plan for this week.”
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The price to host the fight, billed as one of the biggest in boxing history, has been reported to cost anywhere between $150 and $200 million.
The boxers are said to have agreed initially to a two-fight deal, with the rematch expected to take place in the UK before the end of the year.
Joshua, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, has been beaten only once before in 25 professional bouts: his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in New York in 2019. However, Joshua reclaimed the titles in the rematch six months later, which took place in Saudi Arabia.
Fury, meanwhile, has never been beaten in 31 pro outings. He defeated Deontay Wilder comprehensively in Las Vegas in February last year to capture the WBC crown.
Hearn said Fury told him personally in Las Vegas last week that he is “all in” for the clash, while the promoter also said to Sky Sports News that he hopes UK fight fans will be able to attend – even amid the uncertainty of the pandemic.
"That's something that we're talking about with the site," Hearn said. "A lot of international sites that stage major events will invest huge money to showcase their city as a point of tourism. It's important for them to do that.
"You hope at the end of July, early August, that corridor to the Middle East will be open. But it's not a necessity for the fight to take place."
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Updated: April 26, 2021 08:48 PM