Eddie Hearn says “the money is on the table” for a deal that would see Tyson Fury face Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title next, but he says the main block to negotiations is that Fury does not want to face Usyk next.
Hearn says outline talks that would see Anthony Joshua take a step-aside deal and get a guaranteed shot at the winner of Fury-Usyk in November or December were positive, but progress has been impossible and, as of now, a WBC purse bid for Fury to face Dillian Whyte will go ahead on Friday.
“Nothing was ever done,” Hearn said. “We are willing to look at an agreement that will cover a lot of our concerns and provide an interesting path for Anthony Joshua.
“The reality is that Tyson Fury doesn’t want to fight Oleksandr Usyk next. He wants to have a run-out in March before an undisputed fight, which I don’t understand. Now all of a sudden he wants to fight Dillian Whyte instead of Oleksandr Usyk, so as of now we go to purse bids tomorrow.
“I believe for the first time it will happen, because it has reached the stage where people are working very hard to make everyone happy, but the hardest one to nail down is Tyson Fury and that is because, as I understand it, he doesn’t want to fight Usyk next, he wants to have an interim fight.”
Hearn says that while there have been talks, no “long-firm contract” has yet been drawn up for a deal that would involve Fury, Usyk, Joshua and Whyte.
While Fury has been told to defend his WBC title against Whyte, the interim champion, Joshua has a rematch clause to attempt to gain revenge after losing his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to Usyk last September.
“The whole thing is all four people would have to be individually agreed to move forward,” Hearn said.
“This wasn’t something that was instigated by the fighters, it was instigated my promoters and site venues who said ‘we’d like to do it’.
“Fury is like ‘you cowards, you took the step-aside’ and the next day it’s ‘you lost 90 million, you idiot’.
“The money is on the table but it is not just about the money. AJ is not interested in just taking money and forgetting it. If there is a way that he can fight a massive fight to determine who the best heavyweight on the planet is, then that is attractive to him for a lot of money.
“So, it gives him a chance to work with a new trainer in a new environment with maybe an interim bout to get firing to fight the winner. If he fights Usyk in April or May, you can’t call him the best heavyweight in the world. If he fights the winner of Usyk and Fury, then the winner is No 1.
“He needs an absolute cast-iron guarantee that fight takes place this year, not ‘it might happen next year’. He doesn’t want to wait anyway, but he waits a few months and has another fight and obviously has a great deal, then we will look at a contract that covers all those things.
“We are not at the stage of a long-form agreement, but the initial conversation of ‘is that a plan that you would be interested in?’ Then yes.
“All I know is the plan was always Fury fights Usyk for the undisputed in April or May and then December or November against AJ. But he is saying he wants to fight in March, which would actually be a non-title fight because of the Dillian Whyte situation.
“I don’t know why he doesn’t want to fight Usyk straight off the bat, but he doesn’t. So then it all evaporates, so he has now say ‘OK, I’ll fight Dillian Whyte’.”
Hearn says he will bid aggressively to get the rights for a Fury-Whyte fight in the purse bid in Mexico.
“We have paid our entrance fee for the purse bid and you have to pay 10 per cent deposit,” he said. “You have to send your bid and the money and it is done on Zoom.
“It is not ideal for Arum and Warren unless they win the purse bid, but I would not want to be going to a purse bid with my biggest fighter and losing control.
“I’m not going to do millions over it, I will bid the right amount of money that the fight is worth and will be very aggressive over it. We have got less to lose than they have in a bid.”
But Hearn says it is possible the purse bid will be delayed again.
“He [Fury] changes his mind every day,” Hearn said. “He might come back tonight and say ‘let’s all sit down and try to figure it all out’.
“At some point the WBC might say they have had enough, but if both sides say they want to delay, they have to really. Both sides have to agree.
“Dillian’s view is he will look at a plan, but he wants to fight Tyson Fury. Now he is thinking ‘let’s go to purse bids’.”