An undisputed world heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury will be a bigger event than the Olympics, according to Eddie Hearn, who says that both sides have agreed to a site offer for the fight to take place this summer.
Hearn says that the final points of the contract will be ironed out in the next few days for the fight before an announcement on venue and date is made. It is expected to be in Saudi Arabia on either July 24 or one of the following two weekends.
The site deal gives the venue host the choice of the date, meaning that the fight looks certain to take place during the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This creates a problem for Joshua’s trainer, Robert McCracken, who is also performance director for Great Britain’s Olympic squad.
“We don’t have a choice,” Hearn said. “There are too many people and things to fit around already with the fighters, trainers, countries, time zones, the Olympics.
“Whatever date we are given by the site is the date that we will go with. I know AJ and Rob have been talking, so I am sure they will work it out.
“It will depend on timings, the date we get given is when the fight takes place and the guys know it will be around the Olympics, it could be inappropriate but it is the biggest fight in boxing and the biggest moment in AJ’s career so we have to work it out.
“I know Rob takes his position very seriously, he loves the job and the kids so it’s not ideal, but we can’t move it a couple of weeks either side.
“Someone is spending a lot of money, so we have to go whenever they say.
“Both sides have accepted one specific proposal and we are finalizing that with contracts going backwards and forwards and tiny, tiny points getting ironed out.
“We haven’t finalized an exact date, July 24 is the rough date but it may leak into early August but no later than that.”
The fight will take place at peak-time in the UK, so late afternoon or early evening in the United States, meaning it will not clash with any actual Olympic events as it will be the middle of the night in Tokyo then. But Hearn does not believe that the Olympics will cause any distraction for fans.
“The Olympics will be a different timezone so it’s not really in the mindset,” Hearn said.
“I know the Olympics is a huge event but I see them very differently. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me but I personally see this bigger than the Olympics. I just feel it is bigger than the Olympics, for Britain, because the world will stop to watch and it’s between two Brits.
“It’s impossible to schedule anything without clashing with something, it’s impossible so we will go on the date we are told to go on.”
Hearn revealed that the event will go ahead at an indoor venue and up to 20,000 fans will be able to attend.
He briefly met up with Fury in Las Vegas last week and said he was encouraged by the WBC champion’s determination for the fight to go ahead, despite Fury having regularly expressed skepticism that the fight would happen.
“He was good, I went (to Las Vegas) to see Canelo and then Billy Joe and then I got my phone book and arranged a load of meetings,” Hearn said.” I DM’d Fury on Instagram and asked if he fancied a cuppa.
“I ran round there and we just had 10 minutes in his suite but it was good to hear how dialed in he is for the fight.
“When I saw the comments from him and his dad, I wanted reassurance that, when I deliver it, they will want it. I have spoken to Fury’s team and Top Rank and told them to hang in there, because I will get it done.
“Once they saw the offer, they felt a bit of positivity and believe the fight is happening and it makes for a better relationship. I think they are happy now because everyone has got what they wanted.”
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.