Tyson Fury seems to expect to face Deontay Wilder next instead of Anthony Joshua, claiming his former foe requested $20 million to step aside for this summer’s world heavyweight title unification bout.
Fury and Joshua had this week agreed finally on a money-spinning clash in Saudi Arabia on August 14, which would crown the undisputed heavyweight champion. The Brit boxers had earlier this year signed a two-fight deal.
However, on Monday a US arbitrator ruled in mediation that Wilder has the legal right to fight WBC champion Fury for a third time following their rematch in February last year, with a deadline set of September 15.
On Wednesday, Fury posted a message on Instagram over a video of Wilder doing some pad work with trainer Malik Scott, with the tag: “What a joke [Wilder] has become.”
Fury said the American had asked for “$20m to move over" before adding: "Looks like I will have to crack his skull again."
Scott also posted on Instagram, saying Wilder "declined and had no interest in step-aside money. He wants blood and not step-aside money. Retribution is upon us."
Fury, undefeated in 31 professional bouts, became a two-time world champion when he stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their hugely one-sided rematch in Las Vegas 15 months ago. The first fight, in December 2018, had ended in a contentious draw.
The pair was slated to meet last year for a third time, but the coronavirus pandemic and an injury to Wilder appeared to clear the road to the much-hyped encounter with Joshua. Joshua holds the WBA, WBO, and IBF belts.
Fury's American promoter, Bob Arum, has seemingly given conflicting statements to various media outlets, with ESPN reporting the Top Rank chief on Tuesday as saying he would abide by the arbitrator’s ruling.
"We're not paying Wilder to step aside," Arum said. "It's better to get rid of him and go about our business. We can make the Fury-Joshua fight for November or December."
Arum said Top Rank has already reserved Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for a Fury-Wilder fight on July 24.
Meanwhile, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, the driving force behind the unification bout in Saudi Arabia, said he is now assessing possible alternatives for his client. Chief among those, a defence against Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, the mandatory challenger for the WBO crown.
Speaking on an in-house video on Tuesday, the Matchroom Boxing head said: "It would be in an ideal world, if the right deal could be done, to maintain those belts and to keep the Fury fight alive for probably December, but for the undisputed [title] as well.
"We want to be in a position by the end of this week to know are we fighting Tyson Fury or are we moving forward with another option.”