Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury 'very close' - with Middle East favourite to host the super fight

Fighters consider options with decision imminent, according to Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn

The setting for Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua could be announced soon, with the Middle East a top contender. PA
The setting for Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua could be announced soon, with the Middle East a top contender. PA

The much-anticipated unification heavyweight world title bout between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury is "very close" to being finalised, according to promoter Eddie Hearn - with the Middle East thought to be favourite to host.

Matchroom chief Hearn has confirmed he will present “multiple” options to both fighters on Sunday as they decide on a venue and date for one of the most lucrative fights in history.

The clash, which puts on the line Joshua’s WBA, IBF and WBO belts against Fury’s WBC title, looks set for July, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar among a number of countries in the running to stage the event.

Both Joshua and Fury took to social media this weekend to raise hope that the all-British encounter would go ahead this summer.

Speaking to Sky Sports on Saturday night, Hearn said: “Tomorrow both guys will be presented with the options for a fight in the summer. Joshua doesn't talk much about fights, but he talks when it's close. You can feel the excitement building.

"We are in a great place with several offers on the table. I'm quietly confident. It was nice to see Fury post with enthusiasm because he feels that we are close.

"The teams will get together. I will try to see [Top Rank Boxing head] Bob Arum [who co-promotes Fury] on Tuesday. We're nearly there. We have worked really hard and we don't want to give in. We're in a good place, nice and close. I can't do any more than I'm doing. People know that we're on the verge.

Clash on the Dunes: Joshua beats Ruiz

"Both guys are desperate to get moving. Joshua wants a date for the start of his camp. This is the sporting event of 2021. One lucky site will get good news next week and the whole world will stop to watch this fight."

Although the Middle East appears the frontrunner, a “home” event in London apparently remains on the table. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said this weekend that he would support any attempt to stage the fight at Wembley Stadium, although Hearn cited Covid-19 restrictions as reason it most probably will go elsewhere.

"[Wembley] will be presented," Hearn said. "Financially, it's not at the races. The question is: can we get 100,000 fans on July 24, the potential date in London? The answer is, 'We hope so'. It is difficult to make a decision on that basis.

"This is why it's taking longer than expected. It's the logistics, testing policies, crowds. But now is the time to make this fight; now, the summer. We may not get this opportunity again. Both guys accept that and are ready for the challenge."

Hearn has a relationship with Saudi Arabia following the “Clash on the Dunes” in December 2019, which was headlined by Joshua’s victory in his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. That event took place at a newly constructed 15,000-seater Diriyah Arena.

Hearn said last week that the kingdom was “absolutely keen” on hosting Joshua-Fury and that his previous experience with organisers there would be a factor when it came to deciding upon a venue.

Meanwhile, Fury has also “fought” in the kingdom: in October 2019, he joined the WWE for a one-off appearance.

Both fighters have agreed in principle to a two-bout contract, with the first meet slated for the summer and the second to fall before the end of the year.

Updated: April 11, 2021 12:34 PM

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