British heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have been tipped to finally meet each other in the ring this year after a long period of speculation regarding a potential unification bout between the pair – and the prospect of such a bout has received yet another boost. Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn has repeatedly stated his intention to engineer two fights as soon as possible since Joshua’s knockout victory over Kubrat Pulev in December last year.
Despite the enthusiasm of all parties in getting the clashes made, negotiations have been threatened by a couple of potential hurdles along the way.
For example, Oleksandr Usyk, the mandatory challenger to Joshua’s WBO title, is likely to be demanding financial persuasion in order to step aside and allow any bout to happen.
Meanwhile, there is a similar situation on Fury’s side with former opponent Deontay Wilder reportedly able to activate a clause mandating a third fight.
Wilder and Fury famously clashed on two previous occasions, with the ‘Gypsy King’ coming out on top at the second time of asking after a hard-fought draw in their first meeting.
Despite the American’s wishes to invoke a trilogy fight, Fury has been adamant that the matter is done and that he is looking ahead to new challenges.
It now seems as if Wilder may be forced to stand down, opening the door for Hearn to thrash out the details regarding the potential superfights between Fury and Joshua later this year.
A report by World Boxing News has claimed that Wilder, as a result of his status as the number one contender for Fury’s WBC belt, could be ordered to face either Alexander Povetkin or Dillian Whyte before the end of 2021.
Povetkin and Whyte are set to face each other for a second time in March to decide the organisation’s interim champion, but this is likely to be postponed as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The Russian is hoping to defend his title against Whyte, who was defeated in the fifth round of their last fight.
It is said that Wilder may be in line to face the winner of their rematch in a bout that could produce a new mandatory challenger to the WBO heavyweight championship.
The report claims that it ‘sees no other outcome but for Wilder to be ratified for the interim title next’.
It is believed that the American would first take part in a warm-up bout against Robert Helenius, Adam Kownacki, or former world champion Charles Martin before turning his attention to either Povetkin or Whyte.
This decision by the WBO would be a huge boost for Hearn as he aims to turn the prospect of a unification bout between Fury and Joshua into a reality.
The Matchroom group managing director suggested earlier this month that the fights will be made regardless of any objections from Wilder’s camp after Fury’s promoter, Bob Arum, revealed that he was ’95 per cent’ sure the American would not cause a problem during negotiations.
“He [Arum] is not too concerned, he feels like the contract is over,” Hearn told Sky Sports.
“There is an arbitration going on in that respect. I don’t see that as an issue. If there is, Fury has to give Wilder some kind of compensation to take these two fights.”