Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum, who co-promotes WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, is standing firm on his position that Eddie Hearn, promoter for Anthony Joshua, "killed" the possibility of a year-end showdown between the two domestic rivals.
The two sides have been negotiating for the last few weeks - with Fury and his handlers making claims that Joshua and Hearn were dragging their feet on finalizing an agreement.
Hearn has refuted those claims - stating that there were numerous issues that had to be resolved to finalize an agreement for a December fight in Cardiff.
Last week, Fury threatened to go in another direction - with several names being mentioned, like former WBA champion Manuel Charr.
Arum states that everything could have been finalized on Monday - but he believes Hearn was trying to avoid a possible scenario where Joshua would lose his third fight in a row - after coming off back to back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.
"[Hearn] wanted to kill it because even as late as yesterday [Monday], if he'd have said let's all get together and sit in a room and get everything finalized, it could have been done in a couple of hours. I mean, really sad because I really believed both fighters wanted this fight to happen. The first issue was well there's different networks involved. So, there was a meeting held and, lo and behold, all the networks signed off and they found a way to do it," Arum said to Sky Sports.
"Now, Mr. Hearn got involved and he didn't want the fight to happen from the get-go, so he slow-played it. I've been in this business almost 60 years so I can tell when somebody doesn't want something to happen and then slow-plays a negotiation. Here, once the percentages were decided, there were no real issues. You could sit in a room for three hours and get everything finalized, but Hearn refused to do it. I think that was terrible on his part because I know Frank Warren and George, partners from Queensberry, were prepared to meet personally with Eddie and get everything worked out.
"I mean there were no issues, for a fight not to happen where there are no issues because one promoter doesn't want it to happen and is in a stalling position is to my mind reprehensible. I knew that Eddie would find a way to sabotage the fight. Now, I mean, isn't that ridiculous? 'Bob said the fight wouldn't happen, therefore it's not my fault'. What are you talking about? Get in a room with Frank Warren and his son George and work out the couple of issues that are really nothing and get the fight on. But, Eddie Hearn has nothing left really in his stable and he is clinging to AJ as his only potential attraction."