Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua is the fight everyone wants to see – but it now won’t happen this summer.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter and the main man behind the proposed heavyweight showdown, had previously said that it was ‘a done deal’ for this August.
Contracts were signed for the undisputed all-British clash at the start of the year and a date and location was even confirmed.
However, Deontay Wilder then won his arbitration case for a third fight with Fury and is now set to be the Gypsy King’s next opponent.
Fury vs Joshua: What we know so far
Fury and Joshua agreed a two-fight deal with the first supposed to happen in the summer of 2021 and the rematch expected around mid-December or in early 2022.
Promoter Hearn had said the first bout would take place on Saturday, August 14 in Saudi Arabia.
Just as an official announcement was about to made in the middle of May, news emerged that Wilder had won his legal bid in the US for a trilogy fight against Fury.
The pair fought in February 2020, with Fury winning the rematch in impressive fashion and taking Wilder’s WBC belt after their first fight had ended in a controversial draw.
Fury moved on to pursue Joshua after growing tired of delays over a planned third fight with Wilder with the Brit’s camp believing the contractual obligation they had to give the American another shot had expired.
That proved not to be the case as Wilder’s team activated the dispute resolution provision within the contract and a US judge ruled in his favour.
That ruling means that Fury vs Joshua could only go ahead for August 14 if Wilder agreed to a step-aside deal.
Wilder has indicated he will not do that – whatever money he is offered – while Fury’s US co-promoter Bob Arum ruled out making him an offer.
What next for Fury and Joshua?
Over the weekend, Arum told talkSPORT that Fury had now signed his contract to face Wilder for a third time.
The terms for the fight are already laid out from their initial contract, and part 3 is set for July 24 in Las Vegas.
Arum told Fight Night “It’s going ahead. It’s a two-page document because you have the terms from the prior deal.
“Everybody’s agreed. In my opinion the deal is done.”
On Saturday evening, Fury then crashed ESPN’s broadcast of Josh Taylor vs Jose Ramirez to confirm he’s now signed the contract, something Wilder did the day before.
“He’s getting seriously smashed to bits,” Fury said. “I’ll give him another shoulder injury, another bicep injury, another leg injury.
“One round, you’re going. I have got your soul, your mojo, everything. I own you.”
Meanwhile, AJ – the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO champion – now looks set to face Oleksandr Usyk next.
Joshua has been ordered to defend his WBO heavyweight belt against mandatory challenger Usyk.
They have until May 31 to come to a deal before purse bids will be called.
Usyk is a dangerous opponent, having moved up to the heavyweight division after becoming undisputed cruiserweight champion.
The Ukrainian’s team claims that Wembley Stadium is being discussed as a potential venue for the fight.
It has been reported that August 21 and August 28 are the two initial target dates for Joshua vs Usyk.
Fury vs Joshua: What has been said?
Joshua has branded Fury a ‘fraud’ on social media and accused him of letting boxing down over the collapse of their fight.
“Tyson Fury the world now sees you for the fraud you are,” Joshua posted.
“You’ve let boxing down! You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout not a fight.
“Bring me any championship fighter who can handle their business correctly.”
That prompted a response from Fury, who fired back: “Anthony Joshua your [sic] more full of s*** than Eddie, spouting absolute s****!
“Your full team knew there was an arbitration going on, it was out of my hands!
“But I tell you what if I’m a fraud let’s fight this weekend bare knuckles till 1 man quits?
“Let’s put up 20 mill each!!!”
Joshua responded by calling Fury a ‘waste man’ and vowed ‘I’ll slap your bald head’.
He wrote: “If there was an arbitration going on, why announce to the world we are fighting! The fight was signed! UNDISPUTED.
“Bare knuckle? You’re a good kid, don’t play with me Luke!
“I’ll slap your bald head & you’ll do nothing! Waste man.”
Fury fired back, insisting he would deal with Wilder again before dishing out some hurt to his British rival.
He wrote: “Not going in to the details on line!
“you’ll slap me about will you dosser please come and try Bum, I’m waiting… Femi AKA Bottlejob! 24/7 365.
“Ready. I’ll smoke wilder first then you will get yours as well.”
Joshua then had the final word, sharing a video of Fury’s reaction to an incident ringside at Billy Joe Saunders’ recent fight.
Saunders’ dad was manhandled by security, sparking a furious row, as Fury watched on and chose not to get involved.
Joshua wrote: “You’re not about that bare knuckle life. A barrier held you back, not even a bouncer.”
Fury vs Joshua: When could it take place
Arum claims it could happen in December this year – but there are no guarantees it will.
Both Fury and Joshua would have to win their respective fights, against Wilder and Usyk, for that to happen.
They would also have to renegotiate terms.
Should one or both men lose their next bout, the biggest fight in British boxing history would be delayed beyond 2021.
And it may well never take place.