Within the last few days, Kubrat Pulev seems to have clarified his stance on whether or not he is willing to allow Joshua to break their contract. Last week rumors broke that Fury and AJ were in talks for a unification fight. Every boxing writer and site came to the same conclusion that it was never going to happen, as Pulev and Wilder stood in the way.
Then over the weekend, Pulev was quoted saying he would be willing to talk about a step-aside deal. All at once, the fire was stoked and the rumor mill was in overdrive. Pulev’s comments opened the door for the unification fight. If a deal could be made, Wilder would be the only hurdle left. If the Gypsy King could sign The Bronze Bomber to a similar deal, an all- British unification fight could go ahead, and all the angels in heaven would rejoice while trumpets sound.
Cut to yesterday and Pulev seems to have ended the conversation. When directly questioned about whether he would allow Joshua to fight Fury he had a lot to say, but the most important thing that he had to say was – “Neither me, nor Wilder will give up on these fights.”
So, what about the Saudi negotiations?
It was well-publicized last week that Eddie Hearn was in negotiations to hold an AJ-Fury unification fight in Saudi Arabia. It seems that the Saudis are extremely interested, to the tune of £400 million, in holding that fight, whenever it happens.
At this point, with Pulev and Wilder standing strong, Eddie Hearn’s negotiations are simply laying the ground-work for future possibilities. The promoter will want to get his position and monetary remuneration, in any potential super fights, signed and dated as soon as possible. Regardless of what happens over the next year, Fury and Joshua will meet each other in the ring at some point, and any betting man will agree that at least one of the two men will be holding the Heavyweight belts for some time to come. Hearn will want to secure a good deal for himself and Joshua first and foremost, getting the ball rolling on that now, while they currently have much less on the table, is a very smart move.
What happens next?
Antony Joshua is going to fight Pulev, not on June 20th, but as soon as possible this year. Hearn will be exploring every possible avenue to hold the fight this year on UK soil. Hearn will also be in close communication with his contacts in the U.S to locate any possible venues there, pending approval from the relevant state athletic commissions, should plans in the UK fall through.
If the UK and US can’t hold the fight this year, expect Hearn to hold the AJ – Pulev fight in an obscure corner of the globe he can find, to free up Joshua to fight Fury as early as possible in 2021. Pulev’s contract is currently the thorn in AJ’s side, Hearn will be looking to clear that quickly, the quickest way being AJ beating Pulev.
Fury will fight Wilder, not on July 18th, but as soon as possible. Fury has Wilder figured out, he’s on top form both physically and mentally, and knows he’ll walk through Wilder again. Knowing the Gypsy King, he’d fight Wilder tomorrow in a ‘Tesco car’ park if he could, just to shut him up. Having come out of their last fight unscathed, Fury doesn’t need the recovery time he did following Otto Wallin, his team will be looking to get the Wilder fight scheduled asap.
Expect Fury Wilder III to take place in the US, due to Wilder’s deal with DAZN and Fury’s co-promotion deal with Top Rank and ESPN. Both of those companies will want to hold that fight on US soil to maximize their promotional power.
Most boxing analysts don’t give Wilder much chance of beating Fury, the bookies certainly support them in that. Joshua is the favorite against Pulev, so barring another Ruiz Jr. level setback, he should put Pulev away more easily than Klitschko did. So, we’re all expecting Joshua – Fury, or Fury – Joshua, however, you want to look at it.
The Heavyweight Undisputed fight is coming, it’s just a matter of when and we guess… who it will be between.