By Tris Dixon
It will never happen. It’s not going to happen. It might happen. It’s going to happen. It’s on.
What is your view of the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder, the champion, and linear titlist Tyson Fury?
It’s heading to the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on December 1.
There’s a three-city press tour this week, taking in London on Monday, New York on Tuesday and LA on Wednesday.
For such a huge event, many remain sceptical that it will even happen. I can’t remember such varied pre-fight talk. Usually the discussion surrounds who might win, not whether it will actually go ahead.
It’s a curious and increasingly expensive game of bluff if those behind it have no intention of executing it.
I was uncertain when it was first mooted but not now.
I’m in the ‘it’s on’ camp.
Yet I understand why others have not been so quick to join, and it comes from Fury’s modest ambitions at the start of his comeback trail.
Both he and his trainer Ben Davison plotted a slow and steady return to action. The plan was never - not openly at least - to fight twice and then leap off boxing’s high board and into the waters of champions, let alone against a man some view as the most destructive hitter in the sport.
Yet a mutual disdain of Matchroom and Brand Joshua is a powerful motive, and this is something heavyweight fighters who appreciate 50-50 purse splits, American TV networks and UK promoters all have.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has seen doors slam shut since his billion-dollar DAZN announcement in the summer but nothing has stopped him from rolling forwards.
There is also now nothing to stop Wilder and Fury moving on. Any obstacles that needed to be cleared have been successfully negotiated and there has been speculation of rematch and double rematch clauses.
That would feasibly keep the WBC title on ice and out of Joshua’s grasps. It’s the last stone remaining before the English heavyweight has the complete Infinity gauntlet.
But what Hearn has in his pack is a couple of wild cards.
Dillian Whyte has been knocking on the WBC door for nigh on two years. He’s sat in pole position as the organisation’s number one and last week met with Mauricio Sulaiman who, you can be assured, told him his shot is right around the 2019 corner.
Then there is Oleksandr Usyk, the cruiserweight king who meets Tony Bellew in November. Should he get by the Liverpool ‘Bomber’, as bookmakers anticipate, then Usyk - a friend of the WBC - will be able to walk into a title fight if he wins and moves up.
Some maintain that Hearn is protecting his king, Joshua, but he has as many moving parts on the chessboard as anyone else and seems equally happy to freeze out Fury and Wilder as they are to turn their shoulder on him.
It’s intensely political, where personalities and relationships based on lucrative business plans will be able to make or break careers in and out of the ring.
Yet this is the game that boxing plays. It always has been. It’s nothing new. That is how the system works. To get your fighters to the top, you need ratings. To get ratings you often need to fight for marginal titles of the International or Intercontinental variety and then you sit, wait and hope your boxer does not slip up.
The road to Wilder-Fury on December 1, however, makes perfect business sense for both parties. Sure, they might earn more against Joshua than they will do against each other but they get to exclude the man people thought was the centre of the heavyweight universe.
The bad news is, as long as the stand-off continues, both sides can move along happily without doing what the fans want, and that it fighting each other.
Fury and Wilder could hog the WBC belt as Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson did, while Joshua can work his way through Hearn’s heavyweights.
The hope is that Joshua, at 28 and 22-0, Fury at 30 and 27-0 and Wilder at 32 and 40-0 do not leave it too late. They could be considered to be in their fighting primes now, and we have seen plenty of marquee match ups go off the boil in recent times waiting for the ‘right’ amount of marinate.
Typically there has been fighting talk from all three parties and Joshua, after vanquishing Alexander Povetkin last week, asked his fans to vote on a Twitter poll to determine his next foe.
Nearly half a million told him what they think, with 53 per cent asking for Wilder, 42 per cent wanting Fury and five per cent saying Whyte deserved a rematch.
AJ has seen the stats and acknowledges that Wilder is the one fans yearn for, likely because of the exciting clash of power-punching styles.
“That would be the ideal fight for the fans, for myself and for my legacy,” he told Weighed In this week. “So yeah, why not? Nothing’s signed, nothing’s sealed. I don’t like to give people false news. But that's the fight I want, that’s the fight we want and that’s the fight that should happen.”
We will hear plenty more from Fury and Wilder in the next few days, in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Regardless of where your political loyalties or preferences lie there will be a split, divided between those who believe it is happening and those who believe it won’t. Only when it has happened will we know for sure, and even then there’s the small matter of a rematch clause and some very difficult negotiations before we get anywhere near what we want, which is one undisputed unified world heavyweight champion.