By Barry Holbrook: Eddie Hearn believes the mouth-watering heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury will get made in late 2022 or early next year.
Hearn says the fight is too huge for it to be put off any longer than that, and he wants to get it done as soon as possible. Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) has a title defense he must get out of the way first against Dillian Whyte in late March or April.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) has activated his rematch clause to face IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in April or May in the UK. Joshua will face Fury for the undisputed heavyweight championship in late 2022, with all four belts at stake if everything goes as planned.
Even if Fury or Joshua lose their next fights, it’s still possible for them to meet in late 2022 or early 2023; it would be useless for Joshua to face Usyk again if he gets beaten in their rematch. It would be conclusive that Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) is too good for Joshua at that stage, and it would be forlorn to put himself through a third clash.
Joshua facing Usyk in April or May
“I expect that fight to take place in April, early May,” said Hearn to the DAZN Boxing Show when Joshua, 32, will be facing IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Usyk in their rematch.
“I expect that fight to take place in the UK. I spoke to Alex Krassyuk [Usyk’s promoter] last week.
Usyk, 35, will have to travel again to the UK to accommodate Joshua’s choice to stay at home. Hopefully, they’re not walking away from more significant money overseas by keeping it in the UK.
Joshua can no longer afford another loss at this point in his career, and keeping the fight in the UK will help him avoid that.
Joshua’s coming off a disappointing upset loss to the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk on September 25th at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in London.
In June 2019, Joshua was upset again in a seventh round knockout defeat against replacement opponent Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York.
So by Hearn choosing to stage the Joshua-Usyk II rematch in the UK, it could give AJ the boost that he needs to get the victory.
It’s no guarantee, though, because Usyk looked perfectly comfortable fighting in front of Joshua’s fans last September in London.
With Usyk’s extensive amateur background, he’s accustomed to traveling for his fights, so it’s not going to bother him fighting in the UK for the rematch. Hearn feels that Joshua may get an energy boost from the crowd in his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in 2017.
In that fight, the crowd helped Joshua win because their cheering in the tenth round is what he needed to get his second wind to come on and stop Wladimir in the eleventh.
If Fury loses to Whyte, he’ll want an immediate rematch if he loses to him in March or April. Given that this is a mandatory defense, Whyte may choose to move on and face the Joshua vs. Usyk winner.
Fury isn’t going to walk away from the loss without trying to avenge it straightaway, as Joshua is doing with Usyk. Unfortunately, that will delay the Joshua vs. Fury fight until the first half of 2023, but as the saying goes, ‘better late than never.’
Hearn promises Joshua vs. Fury WILL happen
“I think the AJ-Fury fight is still the fight. That’s the fight that people still want to see and will always be there. The bigger, the better,” said Hearn.
“That fight, I promise you, will happen, whether that’s late this year or early next year; Fury vs. AJ is a dead cert to happen because it’s too big a fight not to.”
It will be a shame if one of both fighters is coming off losses when they meet this year or next. There’s a good chance that Joshua will lose his rematch with Usyk, which will take away a lot of the interest in a fight against Fury.
To be sure, the Joshua vs. Fury mega-fight can still happen, but it would be under a dark cloud. Hearn wants to get the fight done before the two start getting picked off one by one.
Fury barely made it through his last fight against Deontay Wilder in October, and he can’t risk taking on one of the younger guns like Frank Sanchez, Tony Yoka, or Filip Hrgovic.