The fight referred to by some as one of the biggest in British boxing history has become a case of he said, she said.
Soon after promoter Eddie Hearn offered his take on why a Dec. 3 fight between his client, Anthony Joshua, and WBC heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury, could not be consummated, George Warren, the point person for Queensberry Promotions, which promotes Fury, offered his side of the story. While Hearn said Fury’s frequent ad-hoc deadlines were a major stumbling block to the fight, Warren, the son of Queensberry head Frank Warren, said Hearn and Co. were dragging their feet, a sign that they were not truly interested in reaching a deal.
“There’s always going to be a difference of opinion in the extent of what needed to be done to get that deal over the line last week,” Warren told talkSport during a radio interview. “My personal opinion, everybody was working hard. There seemed to be intent on the AJ side — there certainly was from our perspective to try and do this. We made quite extensive requests over to their side, verbally, over email, over text messages, chasing them down, to try and engage with us in quicker fashion last week. And it fell down because quite frankly we got to a point with them where communication coming back from them and the substance of that communication was lacking.
“I would say there was no ambition on their side to help me try and keep the thing goin. That’s what it felt like by the end of it.”
Negotiations between the two camps were seemingly going on swimmingly for the last several weeks, but Warren said talk arrived at something of a grinding halt last week. Warren said he was awaiting Matchroom’s response on one last “outstanding point” in the contract, but attempts to procure an answer—via text message, phone calls, and emails—“didn’t get responded to.”
“I heard Eddie say the last time we spoke was on Thursday … The truth of the matter is we were waiting for a turnaround on a contract to come back on Wednesday evening,” Warren continued. “We didn’t get that, we instead got an email, a request from Frank Smith, who obviously works for Matchroom, to ask us if we were still up for having discussions.
“Quite quickly after that, Eddie and I spoke in the night. It was left that he was gonna email me something over to the extent of dealing with what they declared as their final issue related to the way that we drafted the contracts, which was related to our position of having final say. On that call I suggested we insert some type of language dealing with having an arbitrator, a mediator, in the place to settle disputes. We followed that up on Thursday, inviting them to engage with us on that last, I think, real remaining outstanding point at the top line. And that email didn’t get responded to.
“I tried to call Eddie a couple of times on Thursday, he didn’t answer my calls, didn’t get back to me. I briefly spoke to [Joshua manager] Freddie Cunningham about half past eight on Thursday. It was left that he was gonna come back to me and let me know their position on how quickly they wanted to move on this thing. I chased them up with a phone call, didn’t get a return, didn’t hear back from them on the text that I sent them.
“And the last bit of communication was myself and [CEO] Frank Smith. We spoke on Friday relating to a different fight that we’re looking to try and finish and finalize with Matchroom. On that call we briefly touched on it. He said he had been out of the loop, he had been travelling with work, and that he would catch up with his side and see if there was anything they could do in the short term to keep the conversations going. I didn’t hear back. So my assumption is they, as a group, decided for whatever reason that they didn’t want to engage last week to try and get this thing over the line, which is disappointing.”
Hearn has since indicated that he is aiming to get Joshua in the ring on Dec. 17. Fury’s team has insisted that their man will fight on Dec. 3.
Mahmoud Charr and Derek Chisora have been floated as potential names to fight Fury.