Anthony Joshua demonstrates power in training session
Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has listed seven locations where the superfight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury could potentially take place, after confirming it is unlikely their first bout will take place in the UK. The two British boxers currently hold all of the heavyweight division’s major belts and should they meet, the victor is on course to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion in more than 20 years.
The last man to do so was another Brit, Lennox Lewis, in April 2000 but with Fury holding the WBC belt and Joshua occupying the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles, the two have the chance to become true icons of their sport.
Speaking on Monday night, just moments before the country was plunged into a lockdown until mid-February at the earliest, Matchroom Boxing’s managing director stated the fight is planned for the beginning of May or early June and added “I don’t see anything getting in the way of it”.
Hearn told IFL TV: “There have been conversations every day for the last two weeks about that fight.
“A lot of the travelling I have been doing lately has been to look at where that fight can be staged and as we have done for a long time. We have an agreement on that fight, which was agreed a long time ago and nothing has changed.
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“We are not looking to go back on that agreement and I don’t believe Tyson Fury wants to go back on that agreement and we are in the position now drafting the paperwork to move forward with that fight.
“From a pandemic point of view it is difficult because the world is changing every day. One minute something is opening and then the next minute something is closing but that fight is planned for the beginning of May or early June and I don’t see anything getting in the way of it.”
In normal times, the unification fight would sell out Wembley Stadium several times over but Joshua’s promoter Hearn admitted it is “unlikely” a first fight between the pair will be in the UK because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Hearn continued: “You can go wherever you want: America, Middle East, Monaco, Italy.”
When the interviewer Kugan Cassius mentioned the Isle of Sicily, Hearn replied: “Isle of Sicily, Gibraltar, Jersey…they are all in play and these are all the conversations which have been going on in the last couple of days.
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“I am not sitting still waiting for anybody. I am doing my own thing. I am not letting fighters down, I am not letting broadcasters down, I am not letting fans down. Boxing cracks on, wherever it may be. It is happening.
“Unfortunately we can’t sit and wait for other people’s decisions. You give us the go-ahead or we make other plans.”
Hearn was mid-interview when he was informed the country had been forced into another lockdown as expected.
The 41-year-old has been among the boxing promoters who have managed to keep boxing events running during a difficult 2020.
In recent weeks, Hearn has put on several major shows involving Anthony Joshua, Canelo Alvarez and rising star Ryan Garcia, to name a few.
Speaking before the lockdown announcement, Hearn said: “It doesn’t affect us too much at the moment as it is one show in February but the key now is I need reassurance from the British Boxing Board of Control that they are going to let boxing restart in February and if they don’t, we are going to go abroad with all of our shows.
“This isn’t a pop at their decision because I think their decision to stop boxing in January is actually morally correct. But if elite sports are allowed to continue, we need to make sure that boxing continues.
“I have a schedule which is mouth-watering and we are ready to announce it – we might announce it this week – and if we can’t do that in the UK, then we will run that schedule for UK fans from another country where we can run it, with another commission, which is not good news for the British Boxing Board of Control.
“The Board has to make the right decisions which are in line with doctors’ decisions and I do not knock that. But we can’t wait until the end of January to see if boxing in February will be allowed to go ahead.
“You just have to make a ruling and draw a line through it and say ‘ok, we are doing this to relieve the NHS etcetera until the end of January (he was speaking before a six-week lockdown was announced) and then whatever happens in February, we are cracking on. But if you can’t give those assurances then no problem, I will make sure we run these shows in another territory.”
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