Eddie Hearn, promoter for IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, says the World Boxing Organization would make a big mistake by not jumping on board with a potential unification clash against WBC champion Tyson Fury.
Their respective teams are in serious negotiations for a two-fight series in 2021. The first meeting would land in May or June.
But, Oleksandr Usyk is the WBO’s mandatory challenger and he’s applying a lot of pressure to face Joshua next.
Usyk is willing to entertain a step-aside agreement, but it won’t be cheap.
If the WBO refuses to sanction a Joshua-Fury unification – there is always the strong possibility that Joshua will vacate the title in order to move forward.
Hearn will do whatever is possible to keep all of the titles in play for the fight.
At some point, he admits, a decision will have to be made to move forward with or without the WBO title.
“I spoke to [WBO president Paco Valcarcel] and said: ‘You are in a tough spot because, probably, in a couple of weeks’ time I will write to you and say that we’ve made one of the biggest fights in boxing history’. ‘Paco, are you on board?’ He will say: ‘Have you spoken to Usyk?’ I will say: ‘Not yet. I am asking you – do you want to sanction this fight or not?’ He will either say ‘yes, on you go’ or ‘I can’t until you talk to Usyk’. Then I’d go and talk to Usyk,” Hearn told Sky Sports.
“Imagine my conversation with Fury and Joshua: ‘To keep all the belts on the line you’ve got to pay three percent to the governing bodies [which equals] £1.5m you both individually have to pay – plus Usyk wants a couple of million’. They would say: ‘What?’ This fight is bigger than the belts. This is undisputed. AJ wants to be the undisputed champion but isn’t this fight even bigger than that?
“Isn’t this fight the answer to all of our questions? Who is the best? Who is the baddest man on the planet? Who is the best heavyweight? At some point we have to take charge of the sport and say: ‘No more’. But first I will do everything that I can to keep the belts on the line. For me, that is the glory – seeing AJ covered in every bit of silverware. That has always been his aim. Once they’ve fought for the undisputed championship, if the belts become fragmented then so be it. But I’d just love that moment [to crown an undisputed champion].”