Promoter Bob Arum tells Telegraph delays in negotiations in Saudi Arabia have scuppered richest fight in British boxing history
Tyson Fury’s USA promoter Bob Arum claimed on Thursday night that the heavyweight’s £200 million mega-fight this summer with Anthony Joshua is “dead in the water”.
The fierce rivals had been expected to fight in July or August for the undisputed heavyweight title, with Saudi Arabia understood to have offered £107 million to host what is the richest fight in British boxing history.
But after Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said on Thursday that the fight is a done deal, Arum told the Telegraph Sport that both boxers will have to fight alternative opponents owing to delays in negotiations.
“It will take months for the Saudis to do their due diligence on such a huge deal,” explained Arum. “It is not just a site fee, there are ancillary demands from the Saudis stretching into the broadcast deals and other things, it could take months for it all to play out. It could even take until 2022 the way it looks right now.
“The fight in July or August is dead in the water as far as we are concerned. The two fighters need to go and have other fights this summer while the negotiations for that fight in the Middle East conclude.”
Arum added that he and Fury’s UK promoter Frank Warren were “on the same page” with where they stand on the fight.
“It is absurd what Hearn is saying that it is a done deal,” said Arum from Las Vegas, where the ‘Gypsy King’ Fury is in training. “If we had just done a site deal without all the other complications that have arisen, we would have a fight by now.
“Tyson Fury is fuming about it and is refusing to keep waiting.”
Arum and Fury are due to go to the Kentucky Derby this weekend with the nonagenarian promoter invited by the owners of the horse ‘King Fury’ which is running in the elite horse racing event there.
Concerns had surfaced in the last 24 hours over the final contract for the Joshua-Fury blockbuster with conflicting news emerging from the respective camps of the two fighters.
Both Arum and Warren – respectively Fury’s USA and UK promoters – expressed concerns that final terms have not been sent out after Hearn had told them nine days ago – according to Arum – that a final contract was “24 hours away” for a fight to take place on July 24, July 31 or August 7, in the Middle East.
Hearn has explained this week that the “long form site agreement” is taking longer than expected, and had urged patience. He insisted that he will not stop “to get the fight over the line”, that he is “a one-man army going out to try and make this fight”, and that Fury’s team “is about 40 people” to deal with, although that has been denied by Frank Warren (“it’s Bob, me and Tyson’s lawyer, Robert Davis”).
The conflict between the sides was made clear by Hearn on Thursday who said: “We last had communication on Friday of last week and Thursday. Arum said in an interview, we haven’t spoken for two weeks, yet five days ago he was telling the world it was a done deal. I think he’s trying to put pressure on. We’re a couple of days later than expected. The situation is still the same.”
Hearn added: “We have an offer in writing from a site, the same site that we’ve dealt with before. The same people we’ve dealt with before. We know all about them. This is a done deal from that site.”
Arum said Fury and Joshua “should find other opponents this summer and meet in December. We cannot wait around any longer. There was a 30-day turnaround for the site and everything else to be agreed after we signed for the two heavyweights to fight each other, but that has now stretched to 45 days.”
Joshua may have to face his mandatory WBO challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
Fury last fought, against Deontay Wilder, fourteen months ago, winning the WBC belt. Joshua defeated Kubrat Pulev last December retaining his belts.