Tyson Fury has stated that his undisputed world heavyweight title fight against Anthony Joshua will take place in Saudi Arabia on August 14.
Fury posted a message in Twitter on Sunday finally ending doubts that the fight will happen.
“This is going to be the biggest sporting event ever to grace the planet Earth,” Fury, the WBC champion, said. “Do not miss it."
It had been Fury who had been stalling on confirming the fight, while he demanded guarantees on the site fee, which is reported to be worth $150 million.
On Thursday, Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, told boxingscene.com that it was Prince Khalid Adbdulaziz Al Saud, the country’s defence secretary and son of King Salman, who was the driving force behind bring the fight to the Middle East nation, in a deal put together by Hearn.
Fury was willing to give the go-ahead after talking to Prince Khalid on the phone on Sunday.
“I just got off the phone from Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia,” Fury said. “He told me this fight is 100 per cent on, August 14, 2021, summertime. All the eyes of the world will be on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and I cannot wait, repeat, cannot wait to smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all times.”
It has been two months since terms were agreed for the fight, with both boxers taking 50 per cent of the pot for a first fight and a guaranteed rematch, which would see the takings split on a 60-40 basis in favour of the winner of the first fight.
It has not been revealed whether the fight will be in Riyadh, the capital, where Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 to regain his WBA, WBO and IBF titles, or Jeddah, which is a major port on the Red Sea. Having originally said that the fight would be indoors, because of the fierce temperatures of the Saudi summer, Hearn has since said that a stadium will be built for the fight, with an 11pm local start time – 9pm in the UK and 4pm in New York.
The winner will be the first heavyweight to hold the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF titles at the same time.
The date is good news for Joshua’s trainer, Robert McCracken, as there is now no direct clash with the Tokyo Olympics, which are due to finish the previous weekend. McCracken is in charge of Great Britain's Olympic programme as performance director.
It is likely that, despite the pandemic, some sort of media tour will be arranged. It is also hoped that fans from Britain will be able to travel to Saudi Arabia.
The country is currently on an amber list of nations for England, meaning travellers must self-isolate for ten days after arrival in the UK. That could change, though, with lockdown measures in England due to end in June.
The undercard is likely to be a mix of boxers from Hearn's Matchroom camp and the stables of Fury's promoters, Frank Warren and Bob Arum. The fight will be screened on pay-per-view in the UK and United States. Sky and BT Sport will both be offering the fight in the UK, while ESPN will make it available in the US.
It is yet to be decided whose name will appear first on the poster, or who will walk to the ring first. Hearn suggested that such matters would be settled by "a number of coin tosses".
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.