Hearn expects WBO to allow Joshua to steer around Usyk to face Fury next

By Boxing News - 12/12/2020 - Comments

By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn says he’s going to start planning the Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury fights as soon as AJ wins tonight against Kubrat Pulev, and they’ll go straight into that fight without facing WBO mandatory Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua’s Matchroom promoter Hearn says once AJ wins tonight, he will iron out negotiations with Fury.

From there, Hearn states that he’ll go to the WBO and the other three sanctioning bodies and let them know the terms are agreed for the undisputed fight between Joshua and Fury.

Hearn expects the four governing bodies to give Joshua the green light to steam straight ahead into the Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) match without having to deal with any of their mandatory challengers, be it Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) with the WBO or whoever else.

Ultimately, if Hearn and Joshua get their way, Usyk, 33, will be waiting until 2022 before he gets his mandatory title shot against the WBO belt.

If the WBO insists that Joshua must face Usyk next and if the Ukrainian fighter refuses to step clear so that the Joshua-Fury fight can occur, AJ will vacate that strap.

In other words, Usyk has little choice but to step aside whether he wants to or not if he doesn’t want to be left having to battle the 6’6″ Joe Joyce for the vacant WBO title.

That won’t be a picnic for Usyk trying to beat the 258-lb Joyce for the WBO strap, and the money for that fight won’t be anywhere near what he can get if he waits until 2022 to fight the winner of the two Joshua vs. Fury fights.

Hearn to start planning Joshua-Fury tonight

“As soon as this fight is over and Anthony Joshua’s hand is raised at the end, we got to go full steam ahead,” said Eddie Hearn. “We already know the financial things are agreed [for Joshua vs. Fury].

Image: Hearn expects WBO to allow Joshua to steer around Usyk to face Fury next

“There are a couple of things that need to be resolved, but really don’t take longer than 24 hours to a week. Whenever you get a fight that generates this much interest and this much money, things get ironed out.

“But the plan is to get the victory [againt Kubrat Pulev], and then move full steam ahead for this mega-fight [between Joshua and Fury] in 2021,” said Hearn.

“We’ve now got them to the point where they have to fight and they have to fight soon,” said Adam Smith of Sky Sports about the mega-clash between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

“Having spoken to them both individually, they both want the fight, they want it desperately, and they want it next. Look, it’s up to Eddie and the promoters to get together and iron this out and actually make the [Joshua-Fury] fight happen.

There are some complications. Oleksandr Usyk is the mandatory challenger, and Deontay Wilder and that situation over there as well. So we have to see if Eddie is right; he [Joshua] has to get past Kubrat Pulev first, that’s the first thing. Then we hope that Joshua-Fury is made in 2021, two of them,” said Smith.

Wow, Hearn is already planning on starting the Joshua-Fury fight negotiations beginning tonight if he beats Pulev. For Hearn to be doing that, he’s assuming that the WBO will let Joshua cruise past his mandatory challenger Usyk to straight into the first of two matches against Fury.

I hope for Usyk’s sake that he doesn’t mind waiting until 2022 for his title shot against the winner of the two Joshua vs. Fury matches.

The sad thing is, Usyk can’t afford to lose any of his fights in 2021 while waiting for his mandated title shot with the WBO because if he gets beaten, he’ll no longer be mandatory. It puts a lot of pressure on Usyk, obviously, and it arguably hurts his earning power.

Instead of Usyk beating Joshua in early 2021 and making massive money in the rematch, he’ll be stuck taking two lower money fights, which will be risky, while he waits for Joshua and Fury to fight twice.

Joshua may vacate the WBO title

“I guess the minor details of, ‘who goes first on the poster? Who gets what colors in their changing rooms?'” said Hearn about the minor issues he’ll need to iron out in negotiations for the Joshua vs. Tyson Fury fight.

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“I don’t see these guys, I know from AJ’s point of view, I don’t see these things being obstacles. You flip a coin for these kinds of things.

“Who is going to get the ring walk first, who is going to get the home corner? These are things that go back to the desire to make the fights, and when you’ve got the desires, you don’t let things like that stop it.

“You see, so many fights fall through because someone in the camp doesn’t want it, and they’ll wind up obstructive and stop the progression and talks.

“Here, the progression and talks are happening as we speak, not involving Anthony because he’s the boss. He only gets spoken to when the timing is right and victory has been achieved [againt Pulev].

“But it’ll be a fast-moving process because the WBO will say, ‘Okay, negotiations will start with Oleksandr Usyk.’ We want to be in the position to go back to the WBO and all the governing bodies and say, ‘The terms [for Joshua vs. Fury] are agreed; these are the dates. Will you approve this for the undisputed title?’

“If the worst comes to the worst and we have to vacate the title, we will do it, but the dreams have always been to be undisputed [for Joshua],” said Hearn.

So if Hearn doesn’t get his way with the World Boxing Organization allowing Joshua to circumvent his responsibilities of defending against his WBO mandatory challenger Usyk in early 2021, AJ will vacate his title.

That’ll look really bad if Joshua makes that move because it would suggest that he lacks confidence in himself that he can beat Usyk.

With Hearn putting it out there that Joshua will vacate his WBO title if he’s not allowed to go directly to the Fury fight next year, he’s letting the sanctioning body know in an unsubtle way that they need to let him bypass Usyk or else.

Given Joshua’s huge popularity, what do you think the WBO is going to do when it comes to his mandatory commitments to Usyk?

It’s utterly predictable that the WBO will let Joshua steer around Usyk and make him wait until 2022 before he gets his mandated title shot. Usyk has already been waiting since 2018 for his title shot. What’s another year?

Adam Smith wants THREE Joshua vs. Fury fights

“Yes, for the first fight,” said Hearn when asked if the terms are 50-50 for the first Joshua vs. Fury fight. “And then a bigger split for the winner of the first fight and second fight.

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“For years and years, Joshua spent a lot of time offering Wilder and Fury 60/40. They didn’t want the fight on those terms.

“In Tyson Fury’s instance, his tock has risen, he’s got a couple of great wins [over Deontay Wilder and Otto Wallin], and he deserves it.

“I think it’s just a case if you don’t do that it won’t happen,” said Hearn about Joshua needing to give Fury a 50-50 deal.

“The two have to meet to find out who is the ultimate winner,” said Adam Smith of the Joshua-Fury fight. “If it’s a fantastic fight, you have a second one, and you can even have a third one.

“You mention Mayweather-Pacquiao; yes, HBO and Showtime came together for that fight. Also, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao happened way too late.

“They should have had three by the time it happened, and I would like to see Fury and AJ in the ring within six to nine months, no later,” said Smith.

Talk about getting ahead of yourself. Smith is thinking away ahead with his talk of three fights between Joshua and Fury, and he needs to hope that AJ wins tonight against Pulev before he starts building castles in the sky.

I hate to say it, but the first Joshua vs. Fury fight will likely go so badly for AJ that it’ll be hard for them to sell a second one. Fury will take Joshua to school, embarrass him in winning by an early knockout.

There will be a certain amount of curiosity among boxing fans about whether Fury will finish Joshua’s career in the second contest. Still, it won’t be the same amount of excitement as their first match.

Once Fury has beaten Joshua twice by knockout, you can forget about the third one between them. It would be viewed as Fury piling on against an over-matched fighter if he were to fight Joshua a third time under those circumstances.

Even worse, the fans would view the third Joshua vs. Fury fight as a ‘money-grab,’ and they’ll be turned off.

Hearn WON’T guarantee Joshua-Fury happens in the UK

“They want the fight in the UK, but you can’t also ignore the offers that come in with the fight game,” said Hearn about British boxing fans wanting the Joshua vs. Gypsy King to take place in the UK.

“This is a dangerous sport. It’s all well saying, ‘Take half the money and do it in Tottenham.’ You’re not getting in there putting your health on the line, you’re life on the line to fight.

Image: Hearn expects WBO to allow Joshua to steer around Usyk to face Fury next

So, if it’s up to AJ and up to Fury, they’ll both tell you, ‘If we can do it in the UK, we’ll do it.’ It would be wonderful to do the event at Wembley [Stadium].

“It would be amazing, the biggest fight in British boxing history by a mile. It’s one of the biggest fights in boxing history.

“Two British heavyweight world champions for the undisputed championships, but we’ll look at our options, we’ll see how things progress with crowds and we’ll ultimately present it to both fighters.

“They will have to mutually agree where this fight will take place,” said Hearn of the Fury-Joshua fight.

Well, that’s got to make the British fans happy hearing Hearn talk about possibly taking the Joshua vs. Fury fight outside of the UK just so that both fights can make more money.

I mean, AJ and Fury are already millionaires many times over, and you would think that they would be looking out for their UK boxing fans for this one.

The PPV price of the Joshua vs. Fury fight will already be hiked to £29.95, according to Hearn.

After years of showing loyalty to Joshua and Fury, the UK fans may end up having nothing to show for it if the two heavyweights take their fight to the Middle East or some other country to make as much money as possible.

Image: Hearn expects WBO to allow Joshua to steer around Usyk to face Fury next

It’ll be interesting to see how the British fans react if Hearn elects to take the Joshua-Fury fight outside of the UK in early 2021. Anyway, Joshua still has to win tonight against Pulev.

If Joshua loses to the big 6’4 1/2″ Pulev, Hearn can forget all about Joshua-Fury, and he’ll need to focus on AJ avenging his loss.

At that point, Joshua’s credibility as a top fighter will be shot to pieces, and he’ll be viewed as a flawed heavyweight who has been pampered for years with soft match-making and fighting in front of his fans in the UK rather than traveling abroad.