Promoter Bob Arum says negotiations between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk were destined to “unravel” after a deal was unable to be consummated with investors in the Middle East.
After a protracted, and often frustrating, period of talks, Fury, the WBC titlist, whom Arum’s Top Rank co-promotes, and Usyk, the WBO, WBA, IBF, IBO champion, abandoned their efforts earlier this month to fight each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship.
The two were initially looking to face off against each other in Saudi Arabia but they had to shift their focus to England, where organizers were hoping to stage the fight for April 29 at Wembley Stadium. However, the two were understood to make far less money in England than if the fight took place on Middle Eastern soil.
Multiple issues flared up in their talks concerning their financial split, and it did not help that both fighters (and their representatives) took negotiations public.
In a recent interview, Arum said that Fury-Usyk talks could only go south after they had seen the type of purse they would have received if the fight took place in the Middle East. Arum said investors in Saudi Arabia had assured him and his colleagues that they would be interested in staging the fight—but only in the winter, in “November, December.”
Given that option, Arum said it became difficult thereafter to strike a deal for the fight to take place in London.
“Absolutely, [negotiations unravelled because of the possibility of staging the fight in Saudi Arabia always loomed], otherwise it wouldn’t have unravelled,” Arum told FightHype.com. “Absolutely.
“Obviously, there was enough money to get that fight done (in England at Wembley Stadium). And it was. The money they agreed to. Maybe there was a disagreement on the rematch, but I think that was just an excuse.
“The Saudis clearly told us that they’d like the fight, but only in the winter—November, December,” Arum added. “They didn’t mislead anybody.”
Representatives for Usyk have stated that their charge's intention is to fulfill his mandatory obligation with England’s Daniel Dubois, who is promoted by Frank Warren of Queensberry, Fury’s British promoter.
Afterward, if Usyk is successful, Arum said that he would get together with Usyk’s team to revisit staging the undisputed heavyweight fight in Saudi Arabia.
It is not clear what Fury will do in the interim. A mandatory challenger for his WBC belt has not yet been determined. The WBC has called for an elimination bout between former champions Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz, but that fight has not been formally announced. Warren has suggested Fury could even retire.
“Usyk is going to fight Dubois, and Frank will be doing that fight in England,” Arum said. “And if both of them win (their next fights) then we can revisit Fury-Usyk hopefully in Saudi Arabia.”
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