By Tris Dixon
WHOSE side are you on? Who do you believe? In the red corner, there is Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua. In the blue corner are Al Haymon, Shelley Finkel and Deontay Wilder. In the green corner are Tyson Fury and Frank Warren.
Three different sides to the same big picture that has a supporting cast of Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora, Jarrell Miller and Alexander Povetkin. You can throw Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz into the mix, too.
Who has sent what contracts? Who has seen what documents? Who is calling who’s bluff?
We have been going round in circles for months and while we might be edging forwards in the grand scheme of things the heavyweight waters remain murkier and more uncertain than we would like.
The news this week that Fury and Wilder could meet as early as November was a pleasant surprise. It has been met with a good deal of scepticism given the Englishman had wanted several fights to get back into the swing of things after his long layoff. The jump from Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta (who he meets on August 18) to Wilder is stratospheric and far different from his initial proposals of easing himself into a title shot after several comeback contests.
Of course, the marketplace dictates many fights and the opportunities for old friends Finkel and Warren to freeze out Hearn’s cast of big men would be enticing. It would no doubt also please Wilder and Fury who would make big money, the kind of money that only the name ‘AJ’ has been bringing to the big boys’ party.
And a two or three fight rivalry could see Joshua roaming the land of the mandatories, a slave to his silverware, for a year or two.
Yet the talk of who is going to fight whom and for how much will always just be that. Boxing is the hardest game and the ultimate proving ground. The politics, the business, the bluster, it counts for nothing. What happens inside the ropes is what matters. And if Joshua, Wilder and Fury fail to fight one another then there would have been an awful lot of dialogue to and about one another for absolutely nothing.
It has been a long time since we have seen such a mixed reaction on whose fault it is that Joshua-Wilder is not happening. Hearn claims that he has offered Wilder career high paydays against Joshua, Whyte and Chisora.
He says he has presented Wilder with more to face Chisora than he made for taking on dangerous Ortiz. He has offered even more for a Whyte fight.
Finkel countered, saying that he and Wilder had a good laugh over the contracts offered.
On the other hand, Wilder says his negotiations with Fury have been so smooth that the fight could be tied up within a week.
That is the opposite of the back and forth we had from both camps about the Joshua-Wilder fight, which, by the way, does not sound like a sure thing even for the booked April date at Wembley Stadium that Team Joshua has. Whyte in a rematch in an all-British bout seems a much more likely encounter at this time.
While Wilder and Fury could freeze Joshua out of his own big-fight picture for a while, if there is a decisive victor of the proposed Las Vegas fight, then a bout with Joshua for all of the marbles would make the most sense – for all concerned. Yes, Joshua would have his huge paydays potentially halved with one of them out of the picture, but the Fury-Wilder winner brings more to the table than anyone else in boxing today. And that is the main reason why Wilder, and particularly the enigmatic Fury, might be preparing to roll the dice.
For the record, Wilder has said, “Fury is a true champion. This is what champions are all about.”
Fury said, “I am a man of my word, and if I say I'll fight, I will fight you.”
He believed Joshua was a “disgrace” for not facing Wilder and the American said of Fury, “I respect for him and I salute for trying to save face for his country, to try to save them from the embarrassment they feel over there.”
The WBC champion added that it was a “humiliation” for Joshua.
Wilder reckons he and Fury is a bigger fight than him against Joshua.
It might be at first, but if he was to wipe out Fury in style then him and Joshua grows again.
Joshua, by the way, is in camp in Sheffield training for Povetkin on September 22. Don’t expect much more talk from him until that deed is done.
Regardless of which side you are on, who you believe or who you think is the best boxer or the biggest drawer the real truth will only come out in the ring.
There, you cannot hide behind Instagram videos, press releases or contracts.
Legacies are built in between the ropes, and that is also where the biggest cheques are cashed.
For that reason alone we should find out answers to our heavyweight questions over the next 12 months.
And hopefully, finally, the talking will stop.