The biggest fight in British boxing history almost certainly will take place outside of the United Kingdom.
As representatives for Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua inch closer toward complete agreement on contractual terms for their huge heavyweight title fight, it is becoming increasingly clearer that Fury-Joshua will be held at an undetermined venue in the Middle East. A Joshua-Fury fight would easily attract a capacity crowd of approximately 90,000 to Wembley Stadium in London, but bringing their fight for Fury’s WBC championship and Joshua’s IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO belts somewhere in the Middle East would make more sense financially.
Further complicating matters is that full crowds might not be allowed in the UK by May or June, the months promoters are considering for a Joshua-Fury fight. Selling fewer tickets in the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions would remove even more revenue from the pot if they were to box in England.
Eddie Hearn, whose company promotes Joshua, broke down the economics of the event recently to BoxingScene.com.
“If the fight’s gonna take place in the UK, they’d have to take half of what they could get,” Hearn explained. “So, that’s a tough conversation. And if we don’t know if we’re gonna get a crowd, we can’t even consider it in the UK, to be quite frank. But both guys would rather do it in the UK, and one of the two fights should happen in the UK.”
Hearn and Fury’s co-promoters at Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. are negotiating a two-fight deal for the 32-year-old Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), a native of Manchester, England, and the 31-year-old Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs), of Watford, England.
Hearn realizes thousands of supportive British boxing fans will be bothered if they take at least their first fight outside of the UK. As was the case with Joshua’s immediate rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr., however, Hearn understandably will advise the fighters to follow the money.
Joshua avenged his stunning, seventh-round knockout loss to Ruiz by out-boxing him in their 12-round rematch in December 2019 at a makeshift outdoor venue in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Investors in Saudi Arabia offered so much money for that fight, Joshua and Ruiz had little choice but to box there. Hearn expects Joshua and Fury to approach their negotiations similarly.
“I think everyone will be disappointed, but I’ll just be honest again,” Hearn said. ‘Ultimately, I won’t decide where the fight is. If you think that they should take half the money to do it in the UK, in a fight that size, with everything on the line, you know, I’ll defend them [for fighting elsewhere]. I think if it’s 20 or 30 percent [less], I think they will do it in England. They will take less money. But there will become an amount of money where there just – my advice will be, ‘Guys, you’re putting everything on the line. Not just your belts, your health – everything. Go and make your money.’ You know? But in an ideal world, we’d all love to do the fight in the UK.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.