Anthony Joshua declared there is "no place to hide" for Tyson Fury after the first official offer to stage their heavyweight unification fight was lodged.

Promoter Eddie Hearn last week revealed he plans to present "three or four offers" to the respective teams of Joshua and Fury for an eagerly awaited unification bout.

Negotiations over a blockbuster showdown between the British duo have been ongoing for several months, with Hearn revealing a two-fight deal has been signed.

WBA, WBO and IBF champion Joshua has provided a positive update as he eyes Fury's WBC belt.

"Positive news this evening! I'm lacing up my running boots rn [sic]!!!" Joshua posted on social media.

"@258MGT and @Matchroomboxing have received the first official offer to host the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship Of The WORLD! I will be victorious God Willing!

"No place to hide now! IM [sic] COMING."

John Fury - Tyson's father – recently expressed his concerns over the ongoing negotiations in an interview with Boxing Social, citing the financial difficulties due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hearn, Joshua's promoter, tweeted on Sunday: "Busy day today and a long night ahead!"

Eddie Hearn plans to present "three or four offers" to the respective teams of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for their heavyweight showdown – and he remains confident the bout will happen.

The British rivals have yet to finalise a date or destination for the first of potentially two fights between the pair in 2021.

Fury - who holds the WBC belt following his impressive win over Deontay Wilder - tweeted a picture saying "the clock is ticking" on Wednesday, along with the words "three days left".

Meanwhile, John Fury - Tyson's father – aired his concerns over the ongoing negotiations in an interview with Boxing Social, citing the financial difficulties in the current climate following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, promoter Hearn has made clear there are proposals ready to be put on the table before he leaves each side to work out which is the best option available.

"At the end of this week, both fighters and the teams will be presented with all the offers and options on the table, of which there will be multiple ones," Hearn told Sky Sports.

"We're in a good place. I saw John Fury's comments. It's almost like they don't really want the fight. I'd like them to talk it up, rather than talk it down.

"We're quite aware that there has been a global pandemic. We're quite aware that it's not easy, but we're out there grafting away every day to get this done. A little support would be nice, John and Tyson, thank you very much.

"But there will be three or four offers presented to both camps this weekend, then it's over to them to discuss which one they want to take.

"It is a summer fight, that's everything we are working towards. I'm as confident as ever that this gets done.

"I know that there are some negative people out there and people that believe we can't pull it off, but we spend a lifetime pulling things off. I believe we will get this done, and I believe you will see this fight in the summer."

Joshua is the reigning WBA, WBO and IBF champion, having successfully defended his titles with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

The unbeaten Fury, meanwhile, has not fought since his rematch with Wilder in Las Vegas in February 2020.

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

The hurdles to overcome in getting to this point were not inconsiderable, with Fury working under a co-promotional deal with Frank Warren and Bob Arum's Top Rank, both of whom have rival broadcasting agreements to Hearn's contracts with Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN globally.

Fury's most recent bouts have been aired by BT Sport in his homeland and via ESPN in the United States.

The expectation of ongoing coronavirus restrictions makes the prospect of at least the first fight taking place on British soil feel far-fetched, with a return of heavyweight title boxing to the Middle East – where Joshua avenged his only career defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr with a December 2019 points win in Saudi Arabia – appearing most likely.

"I actually feel we've done the hard part," Hearn said. "Speaking for myself, Anthony and his team at 258 management, I know how hard we've worked hard these last couple of months and I just feel that this fight is so big it's not a difficult sell.

"We've already had approaches from eight or nine sites. The offers have come from multiple countries in the Middle East, from Asia, eastern Europe and America.

"This is the biggest fight in boxing and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It will be a major, major win for a country that wants to showcase itself."

Some typically idiosyncratic interviews from Fury over recent days, where he stated he had no interest in boxing in the UK again, while claiming to have stopped training in favour of "concentrating on getting me 10 pints of Stella", appeared to cast some doubt upon the Joshua fights getting over the line – especially considering the 32-year-old's previously well-documented struggles with alcohol and depression.

"You never really know with Tyson," Hearn said. "It could be mind games. He could be having a bad day. He could be a little p***** off. Or he could be having a joke.

"One of the fascinations about this fight will be the build-up because they're two totally different characters, two totally different personalities. The mind games will be on another level for this fight. Tyson is very good at that.

"Anthony is excited by that. He's so pumped, so focused, he hasn't stopped training since the Pulev fight. He's like a caged lion. The build-up is going to be epic."

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

Whenever boxing's matchmakers put together a bout that promises fireworks and destructive drama from the opening bell, pundits and fans alike spit out the same three syllables.

Hagler-Hearns.

Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns shared seven minutes and 52 seconds of unfathomable brutality in Las Vegas in April 1985, setting an impossible bar for every all-action fight ever since.

Hagler and Hearns met in their primes as two stars of a golden age in the sport's middle weights. The celebrated "Four Kings" were completed by fellow greats 'Sugar' Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.

There were nine fights in all between the quartet, spanning 1980 to 1989. Leonard and Duran met three times, with both men going the distance against Hagler. Hearns and Leonard shared 26 rounds over the course of two enthralling bouts separated by almost eight years.

And yet, the comparatively brief period Hearns and Hagler spent in one another's violent orbit stands as the high watermark of the era for many.

After Hagler died aged 66 on Saturday, we look back at three rounds that shook the world.

 

ROUND ONE

An elongated promotional tour taking in 21 cities whipped up severe animosity between the two fighters, with long-reigning unified middleweight king Hagler brooding over the perceived higher public standing afforded to fellow Americans Leonard and Hearns, along with the latter's withdrawal from their proposed 1982 meeting with a hand injury.

Hearns had showcased terrifying power at welterweight and light-middleweight. He demolished Duran inside two rounds in 1984, at the same Caesars Palace outdoor arena that staged his clash with Hagler.

Therefore, the expectations were of a measured start from the older man, who would draw the sting from a 26-year-old Hearns at a then-unfamiliar weight before taking him into deep waters.

Hagler was not reading from that script.

After eyeballing his foe throughout the introductions, he tore out of his corner at the opening bell and unleashed a wild and winging right hand that Hearns just managed to duck. The tone was set and there would be no let-up.

Hagler's gameplan – insofar as it could be deciphered from underneath the red mist – was to negate Hearns' three-inch reach advantage by attacking the younger man to the body.

Initially, that was a march straight into trouble as Hearns caught him with a left hand coming in and followed up with a right hook to shake Hagler.

The champion held for the briefest of respites before leather began to fly in centre ring – Hagler unleashing his chopping left hook and locating Hearns' chin to force a retreat to the neutral corner.

Hurt, Hearns shot back under heavy fire to escape the peril Hagler had planned on the ropes.

There was a minute gone.

The hunter and hunted patter was established. Hearns clipped Hagler with a left off the back foot to draw him on to a short right. Worryingly for the 'Motor City Cobra', 'Marvellous' was entirely unperturbed.

Hagler's booming straight right was working effectively, but Hearns' blurring fists continued to punctuate a fight in fast forward. A pair of rights found the jaw, still Hagler came. A flashing uppercut, still he came. But there was blood. A lot of it.

"There's blood all over Marvin Hagler's face, I can't tell where it's coming from," yelped commentator Al Bernstein

Seemingly spurred on by the change in circumstances, Hagler forced Hearns into the red corner and got to work, pounding the body. Hearns was sharp in the eye of the storm, soaking up two crunching left hooks and fighting his way out of trouble.

Well, until that unerring Hagler straight right sent him tottering backwards with nine seconds left in the round. By the time the bell sounded, they were trading once more.

Hearns landed 56 of 83 punches in the first round as Hagler connected with 50 of 82. It still beggars belief.

ROUND TWO

"Don't worry about the cut, Marvin," said his cornerman Goody Petronelli, unknowing that there were bigger problems afoot on the other stood.

At some point in the fury of the first three minutes, Hearns had broken his wrecking ball right. This perhaps explained his willingness to begin the second on the jab – that tool of relative conservatism largely lost in the maelstrom of round one.

Hagler met this adjustment with a change of his own. The switch-hitter turned to an orthodox stance for the first time in the fight and landed with a left-right combination.

Regardless, there would be no backwards step from Hagler. Back he went to southpaw, a right jab leaving Hearns disorganised and opening up more opportunities to the body.

A straight right was Hearns' retort along with crisp lefts to head and body, but Hagler shrugged them off and continued to bore forwards with blood all over the place.

His left hook was working like a dream and shuddering rights had Hearns in trouble on the ropes.

When the bell sounded, Hagler's bloody mask and Hearns' exhausted body gave both men the look of beaten fighters.

ROUND THREE

"Just box him, stay away and box him," Emanuel Steward implored Hearns, although the great tactician had reason to sense the bout was slipping away.

Aghast, Steward found one of Hearns' entourage giving him a leg massage before the fight. Combined with the concussive head shots Hagler had landed at will, the result was rubbery limbs that did not convince as the Kronk Gym favourite looked to get on the balls of his feet and skip away at the start of round three.

Hagler's eyes never deviated from a moving target, but his problems were also stacking up.

Referee Richard Steele was increasingly zealous when it came to breaking the fighters up, preventing Hagler from doing the work he wanted to on the inside. After one of the official's interventions, he called the ringside doctor to have a look at the champion's increasingly gruesome cut.

Given Hearns opened the cut with a punch, a TKO defeat was on the cards for Hagler if he was deemed unfit to continue.

But no referee or no doctor was stopping this fight. Hagler decided it was time to take care of adjudication himself.

He had started to measure Hearns' increasingly predictable retreats, and a right to the side of the head saw his opponent stagger sidewards across the right, almost turning his back. Hagler knew the time was now.

A follow-up right to the temple robbed Hearns of any remaining equilibrium and another to the jaw saw him sag back before collapsing downwards, the breeze of Hagler's superfluous follow-up shots doing nothing to rouse him.

Flat on his back, Hearns tried valiantly to beat Steele's count, but a valedictory triumph belonged to Hagler after a cacophony of violent mayhem and savagery that remains celebrated to this day.

Undefeated world champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez will meet to decide the undisputed light-welterweight king in Las Vegas on May 22.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) added the WBA belt to his IBF crown when he beat Regis Prograis via majority decision in the thrilling October 2019 World Boxing Super Series final.

The Scottish southpaw made short work of Apinun Khongsong in his first defence, stopping the challenger with a brutal first-round body shot.

American Ramirez (26-0 17 KOs) was, like Taylor, a 2012 Olympian but boasts more experience in the professional ranks.

He consolidated the WBC title by stopping then-WBO ruler Maurice Hooker inside six rounds in July 2019.

A points win over one-time Taylor victim Viktor Postol last August kept those belts in Ramirez's possession and it means all four of the major titles in the division will be on the line when the fighters meet in under three months' time.

"I'm excited it's finalised and over the line," Taylor said. "I can't wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career.

"Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about."

Ramirez added he is confident he can make history for a boxer of Mexican lineage, with undisputed status similarly a target for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez at super-middleweight this year.

"I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts," he said.

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank hailed "a true 50-50 fight" that "the fans and both fighters demanded".

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders will clash in a mouth-watering unification bout on May 8, promoter Eddie Hearn announced.

Canelo defended his WBC and WBA middleweight titles via a brutal TKO after just three rounds against Avni Yildirim in Miami on Saturday.

After being floored in the third round, Turkish challenger Yildirim managed to make it to the bell but his corner through in the towel before the start of the fourth at Hard Rock Stadium, where the gulf in class was evident from the outset.

Following the mismatch, a blockbuster showdown against unbeaten WBO holder and Englishman Saunders (30-0) was confirmed.

"It's Canelo against Saunders — May the 8th — venue announced shortly as he continues to move toward the undisputed championship at 168," Hearn said post-fight on DAZN.

Canelo said: "He's a very difficult fighter. He wants to unify. We want to go for it. We need to go for it.

"People talk whatever, but I'm a very mature fighter. I know how to control myself."

The 30-year-old Canelo is looking to become the first undisputed champion at super-middleweight, with IBF holder Caleb Plant next on the list if he gets past Saunders.

"It hasn't been done," Canelo said of being crowned undisputed champion "I want to make history.

"At 168, no one has done it in the world. I want to make my own history."

There was an electric crowd in attendance for the Canelo-Yildirim contest, with fan capacity capped at 15,000 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Canelo dominated and made his move in the third round – a combination of jabs sending Yildirim to the canvas, and while the latter survived the round, he did not emerge from his corner for the fourth.

"I wanted to have a great fight here," Canelo added. "I needed to knock [him] out, and that's what I did. That's what I had to do."

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez dominated Avni Yildirim, successfully defending his super-middleweight titles via a brutal TKO after just three rounds.

Canelo put his WBC and WBA belts on the line in Miami, where the Mexican star was fighting for just the second time since November 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 30-year-old barely raised a sweat on Saturday – Yildirim's corner waving off the fight before the start of the fourth round after a combination of jabs floored the Turkish challenger in the third.

Canelo improved to 55-1-2 as he looks ahead to a unification bout against WBO holder Billy Joe Saunders on May 8.

Eyebrows were raised when Canelo opted to fight Yildirim (21-3), who last fought in February 2019, and the gulf in class was evident from the outset.

There were a couple of warning shots from Canelo in the opening round as he worked Yildirim's body in front of an electric crowd at Hard Rock Stadium.

Canelo, who stopped Callum Smith in December last year, continued to move well in the second round – light on his feet with a number of quick uppercuts setting the tone.

Yildirim was on the backfoot early in the third, sent to the canvas following a devastating one-two combo from Canelo.

Smelling blood, Canelo went in for the attack as he forced Yildirim against the ropes, but the latter managed to weather the storm as he survived the round.

But after his trainer was heard saying "I'll give you one more round or I'll stop you", Yildirim's fight came to an end before the bell could sound for the start of the fourth.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez makes the first appearance in what is hoped will be a far busier year on Saturday, defending his super-middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim in Miami. 

The coronavirus pandemic put paid to many best-laid plans for 2020, though Canelo was still able to squeeze in one outing before the end, putting on another emphatic demonstration of his skills against Callum Smith last December. 

Smith was deemed the best around at the 168-pound limit. He had won the World Boxing Super Series - his coronation coming after a stoppage triumph over George Groves - and was 27-0, while had a considerable height and reach advantage over the Mexican for their in-ring meeting at the Alamodome in San Antonio. 

However, the British boxer simply became the latest opponent to find out just how good Alvarez truly is. A lopsided triumph on the scorecards secured the WBA and WBC belts, as well as enhancing an already impressive CV. 

He is far from done just yet, either. A unification clash with WBO holder Billy Joe Saunders is seemingly lined up for May, while a third episode in the long-running saga with Gennadiy Golovkin could yet happen before the end of 2021 - though don't hold your breath on that one. 

First, though, he must make sure he deals with Yildirim. The Turkish fighter is the mandatory challenger with the WBC and is a hurdle that should not be overlooked, even if the two defeats in his career raise questions over whether he may be out of his depth at the home of the Miami Dolphins. 

To Canelo's credit, he has never been a fighter to look too far beyond the next man put in front of him. The target is clear: clean up in the division and become the undisputed champion. 

"It's important for me and Eddy [Reynoso, his trainer] because very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions," he said in the build-up. "That's a short-term goal for us. To win all the titles at 168 pounds. 

"Obviously, no Mexican has ever done it. So that's our short-term goal, to keep making history. And that's what we want. Eddy and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history." 


RECENT HISTORY 

Canelo dispelled any potential concerns against his decision to face a bigger man in Smith at the super-middleweight limit, though the latter was hampered in their bout by an arm injury.

Still, Smith was suitably impressed by what he faced that night, telling Sky Sports a month after his first loss: "I don't think anyone beats him. He may only lose if he keeps going up in weight but he's put a stop to that. His defence is just too good."

Yildirim was actually beaten last time out, his attempt to win the vacant WBC belt cut short in February 2019 following a clash of heads in the seventh round that left Anthony Dirrell with a nasty cut. The action was eventually stopped in the 10th, Dirrell named the winner via split decision. 

His other loss came in October 2017, when he was stopped inside three rounds by Chris Eubank Jr in Stuttgart.


TALE OF THE TAPE 

SAUL ALVAREZ
Age: 30
Height: 5ft 8ins (173cm) 
Weight: 167.6 lbs
Reach: 70.5ins  
Professional record: 54-1-2 (36 KOs) 

AVNI YILDIRIM
Age: 29
Height: 5ft 11.5ins (182cm) 
Weight: 167.6 lbs
Reach: 70ins  
Professional record: 21-2 (12 KOs) 

Saul '@Canelo' Alvarez is in elite Mexican company  pic.twitter.com/t6mgshtBsg

— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 26, 2021 THE UNDERCARD 

Matchroom's Miami offering includes a further glimpse at Zhang Zhilei, the unbeaten heavyweight prospect last seen knocking out Devin Vargas. Jerry Forrest is his opponent this time - the American southpaw has suffered four defeats, though went the distance last time out before losing on points to world-title challenger Carlos Takam.

There are two undefeated super-middleweights on duty before the main event, Diego Pacheco and Alexis Espino taking on Rodolfo Gomez Jr and Ashton Sykes respectively. 

Look out for Keyshawn Davis too, as he prepares to make his professional debut. After the COVID-19 crisis forced a delay to Tokyo 2020, he opted not to wait for a chance at Olympic gold in Japan this year and instead is stepping into the paid ranks.


WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY... 

Canelo expects a typically aggressive approach from his opponent: "I always want to be perfect, I always want to do things right inside the ring and this isn't any exception. I always try to be patient, but it depends on what Yildirim tries to do – he's going to try and rip my head off. So it's going to depends on what's going to do."

The subject of fervent support in his homeland, Yildirim said he was ready for the toughest assignment in boxing: "I'm feeling good, I'm ready for tomorrow. It's showtime, baby. I've waited a long time for the first, it's my time."

Promoter Eddie Hearn on the headline act: "I've been around the sport for 34 years and I do feel like a fan boy around Canelo Alvarez because he's the best fighter I've ever seen up close."

Anthony Joshua has vowed he will not become an old man in the boxing ring, stating he has "five years left" in his career.

Britain's WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight world champion is set for a unification fight with WBC belt holder Tyson Fury this year.

Details have yet to be disclosed of exactly where and when that two-fight series will happen, but it is poised to be a major moment in the career of both men, given the stakes involved.

Joshua is at that stage of his career where he is already a global star but where such fights matter in defining his legacy.

That is what he will look to achieve before hanging up his gloves, with the 31-year-old having shaken off the disappointment of a first professional defeat in 2019, when he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Joshua said: "This isn't the start of my career. I'm coming towards the end of my career.

"I'm not someone who lives in the moment and thinks that everything is just like for now. I'm always planning ahead so I'm coming towards the end of my career.

"Five years left and that's basically an Olympic cycle. I've got an Olympic cycle and a little bit more left, so when you see the next Olympics happen is when I'll be coming to the end of my career and the next generation will be coming through."

Joshua beat Kubrat Pulev in December to keep a grip on his belts, allowing plans for the Fury bout to remain on track and progressing to a 24-1 career win-loss record.

A two-fight deal with Fury, who dismissed Joshua as a "chump" on social media on Thursday, was said to have been verbally agreed in the weeks after the Pulev fight.

Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn said the first instalment could happen in the Middle East unless stadiums are again allowed to be filled to capacity in the United Kingdom, currently a distant prospect amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Anthony Joshua would love his blockbuster bout with Tyson Fury to happen at Wembley Stadium but insisted he will face his domestic rival "wherever it is, whatever time it is".

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua is finally set to face off against WBC champion Fury in 2021 after clearing the hurdle of Kubrat Pulev at England's national stadium last month.

It remains to be seen where the huge heavyweight showdown between the British foes will take place due to continued uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Boxing events in Britain are suspended in January due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and Joshua insists fans would need to be allowed to attend if the fight with Fury takes place at Wembley. 

"I would welcome Tyson Fury to that. I would welcome him to that all day," Joshua told Sky Sports News.

"It's brilliant for the kids of the local areas to come down. It's like half an hour drive, a couple of hours' drive for some of them.

"It's a brilliant opportunity to have it here as well, but the government have got to do right by the people and protect us from this virus. I understand the situation that the country is in.

"I think the possibilities of it being in this country are down to the pandemic, and how that shapes up.

"I feel, for me, I'm not too fussed where it is. I just want to get the fight, because there's so much variables, and so much for me to look at. Where is it going to be? Is he going to take the fight? Have I got a mandatory?

"I've just stripped it all back now and stopped dealing with that stuff. I've just said, 'Let me just fight Tyson Fury wherever it is, whatever time it is.'"

No specific date has yet been rubber-stamped for a fight that would see an undisputed heavyweight champion crowned, but Joshua is targeting a meeting by the middle of the year.

"I think maybe June, end of June," said Joshua.

"It needs a bit of time, because the pandemic is unpredictable at the minute. We don't know what's happening, but with a little more time, it gives us more time to prepare and plan.

"Right now, I said to the team, let's get ahead of the curve, let's start putting things in place now. They are doing a great job.

"I promise you, conversations and face-to-face meetings are happening with representations of my team and Tyson Fury's team."

Tyson Fury doubts Anthony Joshua's knockout power and claims his heavyweight rival has a confidence issue, having avoided fighting him "for a long time". 

The two British boxers appear on course to finally face each other after Joshua was victorious over Kubrat Pulev in December, stopping the Bulgarian in the ninth round of their bout at Wembley Arena. 

Both sides agreed in principle to a two-fight deal for 2021, though details over a date and venue for an initial bout are still being discussed.

After seeing off Pulev, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua vowed to beat Fury when they finally go toe to toe, insisting he will take his "head off his shoulders" in the long-awaited showdown. 

However, in an interview with Fox Miami, the holder of the WBC title questioned Joshua's ability to back up his words. 

 "I don't think he's as good as people crack him up to be, or he doesn't believe he is, his own self. He's got a confidence issue," Fury said. 

"The fight has been brewing for a long time. They've been avoiding me for a long time. Now it's finally got to happen. 

"I've never seen him take anybody's head off anybody's shoulders in all of his 22 fights. It's probably a lie, another lie. We'll see if he's got the guts to try and do it." 

Fury had hoped to get in a bout before the end of 2020 - a year in which the boxing schedule was badly hampered due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic - only to shelve that plan.

The 32-year-old has not fought since February of last year, when he sensationally stopped the previously unbeaten Deontay Wilder in their rematch in Las Vegas.

Promoter Frank Warren has revealed talks are ongoing over a date and venue for Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua to meet in a fight that will be "one of the biggest in British boxing history".

The two heavyweights have both made clear they are keen for a lucrative unification showdown, with a two-fight deal previously agreed between both sides for 2021.

However, there are still details to be sorted out, including over exactly where a first bout will be staged, particularly with the continuing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on major sporting events.

Outlining his plans for the coming year in his column for the Daily Star, Warren - whose Queensberry Promotions work with Fury - has no doubts over who will prevail, whenever the event takes place.

"The big one that everyone wants to see is Tyson Fury against Anthony Joshua to decide the undisputed heavyweight champion," Warren wrote.

"Talks are continuing as we plan when and where to stage one of the biggest fights in British boxing history.

"Of course, I'm backing Fury to come out on top in that and prove what I believe that he is the best heavyweight in the world right now."

Joshua retained the IBF, WBA and WBO titles in December when he stopped Kubrat Pulev in front of a limited crowd of 1,000 at Wembley Arena.

Fury, meanwhile, holds the WBC belt, having dethroned Deontay Wilder in their rematch last February. He had hoped to fight again before the end of 2020, but was forced to shelve those plans.

Warren confirmed the continued COVID-19 health crisis makes it unclear exactly when fans will be able to be present in big numbers inside venues, but made clear "the planning and plotting continues".

That includes trying to fix a date for Carl Frampton's bid to win a world title a third different weight, 'The Jackal' set to take on WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring as early as February.

Anthony Joshua has denied claims he is scared to face Tyson Fury and is eager to finalise a contract for a much-anticipated unification fight between the heavyweights. 

Promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed on Saturday a verbal agreement is in place for Joshua to take on Fury next year, most likely in the Middle East due to coronavirus restrictions.

IBF, WBA and WBO title holder Joshua knocked out Kubrat Pulev earlier this month to clear another potential hurdle standing between himself and a lucrative clash with Fury.

He appeared reluctant to call out the WBC champion in the aftermath of the fight at Wembley Arena, saying only that his focus was on securing the fourth heavyweight belt.

Fury accused his fellow Briton of running scared but Joshua is determined to put everything on the line by finalising a date for a money-spinning bout in 2021.

"Whether he really wants it or not, I'm keen," Joshua told Sky Sports. "I basically said, 'If Tyson Fury is the man with the belts, Tyson Fury is the man I want.' 

"That basically says, 'I'll fight anyone who has that belt, there's no problem with the person'. I just want to go for the undisputed championship. 

"That's what I was trying to say that night. He took it how he wanted to take it. I've never turned away from a fight. I've never announced a fight and not showed up. 

"I've fought six to seven champions, in my short career. Tyson Fury is another one of them.

"There's no reason as to why I see him any different to any other. If Fury is down, I'm ready, I'm keen. I've got four of the major belts, he's got one. I'll take that one from him."

Fury has not stepped in the ring since beating Deontay Wilder to reclaim the WBC heavyweight belt in February, with plans for a trilogy fight halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Joshua's mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk has suggested he is happy to step aside for now, meanwhile, clearing another obstacle.

"I'm speaking to my management team, and I'm ready. I'm keen," Joshua said. "I've got past my mandatory. Right now, I'm about less talk, more action.

"But the ultimate thing coming from me, I'm ready. The next fight, I want Tyson Fury, the next fight I want the WBC champion, the next fight I want to be for the undisputed championship of the world.

"That being said, they are in conversations now – my management team, my promotional outfit – of the best way to put a package together that can lead us into 2021.

"Hopefully, the pandemic will be done and we can bring someone unity, a good energy to Britain, if we can announce this fight."

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez recognised the damage to Callum Smith's left arm as early as the fourth round after dominating the Briton, who Eddie Hearn says may have a detached bicep or triceps.

Alvarez (54-1-2) inflicted a first career defeat on Smith (27-1) in Texas on Saturday to clinch the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles by unanimous decision. 

Following the fight, which the judges scored 119-109, 119-109, 117-111 in favour of Alvarez, Smith refused to make any excuses for the one-sided loss but pictures showed gruesome damage to his arm.

Asked about the injury to his opponent, Alvarez replied: "It was the fourth or fifth round that I obviously saw it was hurting, I have much faith in those type of punches.

"It was the 12th round I saw it was really hurt, we know he has a really good left punch that's what we worked on at the gym."

Matchroom promoter Hearn offered an update on Smith, who will undergo further examination to ascertain the extent of the injury.

"I saw it I think in the 11th round, Canelo looked at it and pointed at it, it was getting bigger and bigger," Hearn said. 

"It's not diagnosed yet, some people in the dressing room think he broke his arm, it makes sense he took a lot on it. 

"I think it looks like a detached bicep or triceps. He has a lump on the outside of his arm, the doctor said it's a torn bicep or triceps so he's going to need a scan. 

"I think it happened as early as the second or third round, but he didn't for one second say 'I couldn't do this or I couldn't do that' it just got progressively worse. 

"He's a very humble guy he just held his hands up and said Canelo was the better man."

Shortly after the bout, WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders tweeted to call out Alvarez, a fight Hearn says that, in theory, is easy to put on.

"[I could make that fight] tonight," he added.

"I mean the big problem is when you talk about the revenue for any show is that gate. Tonight we were blessed with 12,000 people, it felt like my first ever show I went to as a kid. 

"We already had a deal for Billy Joe Saunders to fight Canelo Alvarez in May, he's tweeted tonight that he wants a shot. 

"Canelo walked past me after and said that's three who's next? We tried with Rocky Fielding, Daniel Jacobs - we've got two more in Billy Joe Saunders and Gennady Golovkin [who Alvarez has faced twice, drawing the first fight and winning the second]. 

"He loves the belts, he wants to face the champions."

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