An American legal ruling in favour of Deontay Wilder has cast doubt on the highly anticipated heavyweight clash between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia.
Eddie Hearn, CEO of Matchroom Sports and Joshua’s boxing promoter, previously confirmed earlier this month that the £500 million ‘fight of the century’ between the two UK fighters for the undisputed heavyweight title would take place in Saudi Arabia, most likely in August.
The bout would mark Joshua’s second appearance in the Middle Eastern country after his clash against Andy Ruiz Jr in December 2019, in which he reclaimed his WBA, WBO and IBF belts on the outskirts of capital city Riyadh .
Meanwhile, Fury first faced Wilder in December 2018, recovering from two heavy knockdowns to reach a draw, before stopping Alabama’s ‘Bronze Bomber’ in the seventh round to seize the WBC heavyweight crown.
Plans soon materialised for a third bout between the two, but a proposed July 2020 date was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Fury later refused to negotiate a 2021 date, instead preferring to focus on arranging a unification matchup against Joshua.
However, US Judge Daniel Weinstein – who has mediated the legal proceedings between Wilder and Fury’s respective camps – ruled that Wilder has a right to face Fury a third time, following arguments from the American’s team that the Manchester-born ‘Gypsy King’ has a contractual obligation to face their fighter a third time.
Weinstein ruled that a trilogy clash between Wilder and Fury would need to take place before 15 September, which would likely mean Joshua would be forced to defend his title against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian unbeaten former undisputed cruiserweight champion.
Speaking to the BBC, Fury’s promoter Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions said: “Until we can reach an accommodation with Deontay Wilder’s people, I can’t say that (Fury’s fight with Joshua) will definitely happen.
“But we are working hard to get that over the line. We were talking last night and hopefully we can do that. If not then Tyson, if he wishes, will go to the fight with Wilder. They’re the only two options.”
Although this ruling does not completely rule out the prospect of a all-British undisputed heavyweight bout, the matchup will likely be significantly delayed, and require further negotiations.
A possible option which has been entertained by some would be to offer Wilder a significant cash sum to step aside and allow the fight to take place.
Warren continued: “”It’ll cost quite a bit of money. He will want as much as possible so I think it’ll be about the negotiation if we go down that road.”