By Charles Brun: Bob Arum says Tyson Fury will be facing Anthony Joshua if he beats Deontay Wilder and if AJ defeats Kubrat Pulev in their next fights. In other words, WBC heavyweight champion Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) WON’T be facing Dillian Whyte if he beats Wilder in February, and Joshua defeats Kubrat Pulev in their matches.
Arum will take Fury straight into the Joshua match and skip his mandatory challenge Whyte (27-1, 19 KOs), who Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn claims has been waiting for over 1,000 days for his title shot.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum maintains that the fight the boxing public wants to see is Joshua vs. Fury, not Fury-Whyte. Arum points out that American boxing fans have no idea who the 32-year-old Whyte is in the States, and they have zero interest in seeing Fury fight him.
Arum says Joshua and Fury will fight twice
The WBC reminded boxing fans this past week that Whyte WILL be getting his mandated title shot in early 2021 against the winner of the Fury vs. Wilder fight. However, last Friday, Arum threw cold water on that idea, saying that he’s going to move the Fury vs. Wilder III fight to February 2021 to take advantage of crowds likely returning to boxing events by that point. Whyte WAS supposed to be getting his title shot against Fury, but not anymore as far as Arum is concerned.
If Fury gets past Wilder, he’ll battle Joshua in consecutive fights while Whyte and Usyk wait for the dust to clear. There’s not much Usyk, and Whyte can do about it other than to complain and be ignored by Arum, Joshua, and Fury.
The next move is Hearn and the World Boxing Council. If they try to force the Fury-Wilder 3 winner to face Whyte next, it’ll be interesting to see what step Arum makes. Does he ask the WBC to make Fury the Franchise champion, or does he tell ‘The Gypsy King’ to vacate the title? Both are genuine possibilities.
“Our goal is to do Fury and Wilder, and then if Fury wins, to go right to a Joshua fight plus a rematch,” said Arum to Talksport. “That’s where we stand. It would be an absolute travesty.
“All these mandatories, schmandatories. People are looking for what the public wants,” said Arum.
“If Joshua is successful against Pulev and Fury is successful against Wilder, then everybody on both sides of the pond will look at Fury and Joshua as the fight that they wanna see,” said Arum.
I happen to agree with Mr. Arum. If Joshua and Fury win their next fights, they should head directly into their unification fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship in 2021 rather than waste time defending their belts against their mandatory challengers.
As for Whyte [WBC] and Oleksandr Usyk [WBO], they’ll have to cool their heels on the sidelines, waiting for the smoke to clear from the Joshua-Fury fights.
Whyte and Usyk will need to wait
As Arum states, there will be TWO Joshua vs. Fury matches back to back, so the earliest we’ll see Whyte and Usyk getting their crack at the WBC, and WBO belts will be 2022 at best. If Dillian and Usyk can stay patient and keep winning, they’ll eventually get their title shots.
Above all, they need to keep winning because they’ll have their mandatory positions on the line every time they fight. Whyte is fighting Alexander Povetkin this money on August 22, and that’s a toss-up match-up.
If Usyk and Whyte attempt to force Joshua and Fury to fight them in 2021, they could end up battling for the vacated WBC and WBO titles. Right now, the belts no longer matter.
They might as well be trinkets. What matters is Joshua and Fury fighting each other to determine which of the two is the king of the heavyweight division. Whyte and Usyk lack the popularity to force Joshua and Fury to pay attention to them.
Knowing the WBC and WBO, they’ll likely let Fury vs. Joshua fight take place ahead of the mandatory defenses due against Whyte and Usyk.
The sanctioning bodies have got to know if they risk it and try and play hardball in attempting to force Fury and Joshua to defend their respective titles against their mandatory challengers. That’s a lose-lose situation for the WBC and WBO.
If Fury vacates his WBC belt, Whyte would be looking at facing Luis Ortiz, who he already dodged before. As for Usyk, he would need to meet the heavy-handed Joseph Parker, and that would be no picnic either. The former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usk can’t punch at the heavyweight level, and he has no size for the division. Parker would have a perfect chance of powering right through Usyk.
The money won’t be the same for Whyte and Usyk if they fight for the vacated WBC and WBO belts, which is why they need to calm down and wait their turn to fight Joshua and Fury.
“And they don’t care about a mandatories, whether it’s [Oleksandr] Usyk on the WBO side or Whyte on the WBC side. People don’t care, they would be outraged,” continued Arum.
It’s more important than ever that promoters give boxing fans the fights that they want to see in 2020, as the pandemic and the UFC has hurt the sport. The best matches need to take place this year to bring back the boxing fans, and that’s more important than ever.
Joshua-Fury must happen ASAP
While it would be excellent for Whyte and Usyk to get their title shots against Fury and Joshua, the fight that fans want to see between Joshua and Fury needs to be given precedence over the mandatory defenses.
If the sanctioning bodies and the promoters try and get in the way of the Joshua-Fury fight, then the best thing would be for them to vacate the WBC and WBO titles.
If this were a normal situation with no pandemic going on, then it would be understandable for Usyk and Whyte to get their title shots ahead of the Fury vs. Joshua fight. Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening.