It has been confirmed by both Eddie Hearn and Tyson, we will see two Fury v Joshua fights in 2021. Fury, ever the social media guru, quickly took to Twitter with the announcement, showcasing his excitement and characteristic confidence in his ability to KO Deontay Wilder before facing AJ. Hearn confirmed that the recent negotiations have concluded with both Fury and AJ agreeing on the financial aspects of the fight. 

Fury’s side

On Twitter, Fury announced, “The biggest fight in British boxing history has just been agreed.” Fury is right to claim that this fight is the biggest, with it potentially being the first all-British undisputed unification fight to ever take place, only the second time a British undisputed champion is crowned, and very likely being the highest-earning fight in British boxing history.

For his part, Fury was quick to thank his management in MTK Global, but also made a specific reference to Daniel Kinahan, despite misspelling his name as ‘Kinnerhan’. Instead of Kinahan, Tyson said, “Big shout-out Dan, he got his done, literally over the line. Two-fight deal.”

AJ’s side

While AJ himself has yet to make an announcement, Eddie Hearn has already confirmed with Sky Sports that “There’s still a lot to overcome, we’re looking at obviously venues as well and dates for that fight…both guys are in agreement now regarding the financial terms for that fight, you know, we’ve been talking to MTK and getting over that line, we’ve given them the assurances that from Anthony Joshua’s side, that all the details that we’ve discussed in terms of the structure of the deal is approved from our side, and it is from Tyson Fury’s as well…always the most difficult part of any deal, is the financial element of that deal and I believe we’re in a great place where both guys have basically agreed on, what that deal should be.”

Hearn was quick to add that the agreement has not yet been made binding, saying, “We haven’t signed contracts, because there’s still things to be worked out but, I think we’re almost pushing towards a place where they (contracts) can start, becoming drafted for 2021… the structure of the deal has been put forward and approved by both parties”

Where will it be held?

The venue of the fight is still, apparently, up in the air. Hearn told Sky Sports, “There are discussions with various sites. From a common-sense point of view and without knowing how a deal works, everyone will say Britain is the place to hold the fight. But it is the world Heavyweight championship; there will be all sorts of offers from across the world, and there have been already.”

It’s fair to say that given the current COVID-19 situation, Britain is unlikely to play host to a fight of this magnitude. The road to recovery for the UK is, realistically, much longer than the road leading up to this fight being held in an arena with thousands of fans in attendance.

We, at NoSmokeBoxing, wrote just yesterday about the huge influence Daniel Kinahan has had on the boxing scene over the past 8 years. Towards the end of the article we gave our prediction that, based on his recent appointment as a special adviser to the Prince of Bahrain’s combat sports company and his strong ties to MTK Global, the Fury v Joshua fight could be hosted in Bahrain. KHK sports, the Bahraini enterprise in question, made an announcement that after their Autumn boxing summit “the Kingdom of Bahrain will host its first-ever world title contest.”

With this new announcement, Hearn being reluctant to consider Britain as a venue, Fury putting Kinahan at the heart of the deal, and Kinahan’s fresh role within Bahraini sport, I can say I’m surer about this fight being held in Bahrain than I have been about anything else this year. 

What about the mandatories?

Given the scale of this event and the huge spotlight it would throw on boxing everyone involved, including the governing bodies, will be wanting this to go ahead at all costs. With Fury needing to face Wilder next, followed by Whyte as WBC mandatory, there are already two variables that threaten it. On AJ’s side, he still needs to face Pulev as the IBF mandatory.

While the IBF has gained a reputation as being incredibly strict when enforcing demands that champions face the mandatory challengers, the other organisation have historically been more lenient. AJ is unlikely to be given a break by the IBF with regards to Pulev, but the same can’t be said for Fury and his WBC title.

It would not be unprecedented for the WBC to elevate Fury from WBC Heavyweight World Champion to WBC Heavyweight Franchise Champion. It is a confusing move that the WBC made for the very first time in 2019 when they elevated Canelo Alvarez to WBC Middleweight Franchise Champion. In doing so they made Jermall Charlo WBC Middleweight World Champion and ensured that Canelo’s title would remain intact. 

While confusing and honestly ridiculous, this same move could be made soon by Mauricio Sulaimán with Tyson Fury. By given Fury ‘Franchise’ status, the WBC makes it impossible for Fury to lose his champion position, regardless of whether he loses to Wilder in their trilogy fight.

The WBC themselves confirmed that a franchise champion cannot be dethroned, “the franchise champion is a special designation and status which the WBC may bestow to a current WBC world champion, who is also an elite boxer and who has achieved and maintains the highest of statures in the sport… The WBC may, upon a two-thirds vote of the board of governors, designate in each weight category one WBC franchise champion. A franchise champion shall enjoy special status with respect to his or her mandatory obligations, holding multiple titles and competing for titles of other organizations, as the WBC board of governors rules on a case-by-case basis.”

Dillian Whyte, new WBC Heavyweight World Champion

If the WBC chooses to do this, it would elevate current interim-titleholder Dillian Whyte to WBC Heavyweight World Champion, thereby avoiding the mandatory challenge currently in place between Fury and Whyte for February 2021. This would free Tyson Fury to enter the Joshua fight as WBC Franchise Champion, regardless of whether he lost to Wilder and without having to face Whyte at all. Even if he did face Whyte, and lost, he would still enter the ring against Joshua as WBC Franchise Champion, because that can’t be lost, meaning the Fury v Joshua match would still be an undisputed fight, of sorts.

The WBC has come under fire in the past for diluting the division system with too many ‘special’ belts. In a polar opposite stance to the IBO and IBF which maintain a “one champion per weight class” rule, the WBC continues to add multiple belts with the Regular, Super, Interim, and now Franchise statuses.

 Regardless of when, where or how this fight takes place, if both men make it through their next outings victorious, their match-up is going to go down in history as one of the biggest spectacles in boxing history. This is the type of fight that, in 30 years, will get mentioned alongside Ali-Frazier, Ward-Gatti, Lennox-Tyson and Mayweather-Pacquiao.

We can’t wait.

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