NEWARK, New Jersey – Bob Arum doesn’t get the sense Eddie Hearn genuinely wants Anthony Joshua to fight Tyson Fury next.
Representatives for Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions have discussed at length Fury defending his WBC heavyweight title against Joshua on December 3 at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Warren revealed recently that if their complicated deal isn’t completed by the end of this week that he and Arum – whose company Top Rank Inc., co-promotes Fury – will move on to another opponent for their franchise fighter.
According to Arum, that’s exactly what Hearn wants to happen.
“We’ve been exchanging documents with Matchroom,” Arum told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday before a press conference to promote the Shakur Stevenson-Robson Conceicao card Friday night at Prudential Center. “We don’t think that Hearn wants to make that fight. We really don’t think he wants to make that fight. We’re giving him every opportunity to make that fight. And if we can’t make it very shortly, Fury will fight somebody else. We have another opponent lined up.”
Arum didn’t identify their second option for Fury.
Joshua has lost back-to-back unanimous decisions to Oleksandr Usyk, but having him face Fury would still amount to the biggest fight in British boxing history from a financial standpoint. Arum suspects, though, that Joshua’s longtime promoter understands just how dangerous it would be to put the 6-foot-6, 245-pound Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) in the ring with the 6-foot-9, 265-pound Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs).
“I think Hearn knows, like most boxing people know, that all things being equal, that Fury will knock Joshua out,” Arum said. “That Joshua’s very suspect now and very tentative. And he’s still a draw card, so why would you wanna cash in on your draw card? So, I don’t think he’s gonna do it. I think he’s just f***in’ around with the Warrens. We talk with the Warrens every day because we’re partners [on Fury], but we’re letting them carry the ball.”
The 90-year-old Arum informed BoxingScene.com late last month that he intended to make what would be a full unification bout between Usyk and Fury next. Ukraine’s Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) isn’t the opponent Arum expects Fury to face if these Fury-Joshua negotiations don’t lead to Queensberry and Matchroom making a deal.
Their second choice, whoever it is, won’t be as marketable as Joshua, yet Arum doesn’t think it’s wise to wait around for funding from event coordinators in Saudi Arabia or another Middle Eastern country before finalizing Fury-Joshua. After drawing a capacity crowd of approximately 94,000 to Wembley Stadium in London for his sixth-round knockout of Dillian Whyte on April 23, Arum and Warren want Fury’s next fight somewhere in the United Kingdom.
“Whoever Fury fights will sell out an arena in England,” Fury said. “And, you know, even talking to Fury himself, because he’s looking at the long picture, he wants to get exposed. He’s a big attraction in the United States. He is a huge attraction in the UK. And he wants to play on that.
“He’s not gonna wait around for crazy money from Saudi Arabia. I mean, that’s not good for boxing fans. You know, occasionally if you do a fight in Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi or Qatar, it’s OK. But you don’t just sit around and wait for them to put on a fight. That’s not good. That’s not good for the sport.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.