Oleksandr Usyk will aim to make the most of his opportunity on Saturday, with the Ukrainian looking to upset the odds and dethrone Anthony Joshua in London. 

Already holding the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, heavyweight Joshua appeared set for a hugely lucrative unification showdown with Tyson Fury, holder of the WBC belt, that would identify an undisputed champion in the division. 

An arbitration hearing put paid to that plan, though, as Fury was ordered to face Deontay Wilder for a third time, denying boxing fans the fight they desperately wanted to see. 

However, Usyk is an intriguing prospect for Joshua to deal with. Dominant at cruiserweight before stepping up, the 34-year-old has the potential to cause problems, considering both his boxing skills and outstanding resume. 

Britain may dominate right now, but fighters from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics have ruled the roost at different times, albeit with varying degrees of longevity.  

 

VITALI KLITSCHKO

The baton passed from the famed heavyweights of the 1990s to the coming generation when Lennox Lewis uncharacteristically slugged his way to victory over Vitali Klitschko in Los Angeles in June 2003. The last man standing from his era after comprehensively beating Mike Tyson, Lewis was given hell by "Dr Steelhammer" but managed to inflict enough damage for the challenger to be stopped on cuts after six gruelling rounds.

Lewis never boxed again and Klitschko never lost again, winning 13 fights in succession either side of a four-year retirement. He lifted the WBC title and settled a family grudge by stopping Corrie Sanders in April 2004. He was never without the famous green belt in the ring up until he hung up his gloves in 2012 to focus full-time on a political career than now sees Vitali serving at the Mayor of Kyiv.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO

The younger Klitschko was the first eastern European to lift a heavyweight title in the 21st century when he twice floored Chris Byrd on the way to a unanimous decision to win the WBO belt in October 2000. Byrd became champion in his previous fight when, way down on the cards, Vitali withdrew on his stool due to a shoulder injury. It meant Vitali was returning a favour against Sanders, who demolished Wladimir over two harrowing rounds in March 2003.

Another knockout loss followed a little over a year with the vacant WBO strap on the line against Lamon Brewster. At that stage, it was impossible to foresee the imperious dominance that would follow a second win over Byrd for the IBF and 18 successful defences. Closing out his career with losses to Fury and Joshua carried a heavy sense changing eras, as with his brother and Lewis a decade and a half earlier.

NIKOLAI VALUEV

All the men on this list could lay claim to the moniker of "Beast from the East" but none would be able to pull it off as well as the preposterously proportioned Valuev. Standing at 7ft and tipping the scales at over 300lbs, he became the tallest and heaviest heavyweight champion in history. Valuev's skills were akin to a rudimentary club fighter, but he was just far too big for most opponents to handle.

Each of his two stints as WBA ruler began with prophetically forgettable points wins over John Ruiz and after a 2008 loss to a pot-shotting David Haye he walked away to a varied post-fight career. Like Klitschko he entered politics, winning election to the State Duma in Russia's 2011 parliamentary election. He also became an unlikely face of children's television in his homeland, presenting the long-running "Good Night, Little Ones!".

SIARHEI LIAKHOVICH

Liakhovich's period reign as WBO champion lasted seven months. The Belarusian won a unanimous decision win over Brewster in April 2006, despite taking a knee in the seventh. He was up on the cards when Shannon Briggs dramatically knocked him through the ropes during the closing seconds of his first defence. Briggs was the last American to get his hands on any portion of the heavyweight title before Wilder's WBC reign began in 2015. Two years earlier, the "Bronze Bomber" left Liakhovich quivering on the canvas after a terrifying first-round KO.

OLEG MASKAEV

Three months before Briggs' late show against Liakhovich, Maskaev battered one-time Lewis conqueror Hasim Rahman to defeat inside the final minute of their August 2006 rematch in Las Vegas. A product of the Soviet amateur system, Maskaev based himself in the US for the majority of his professional career. He was 37 by the time he ripped the WBC crown from Rahman and, after a successful defence against Okello Peter in Moscow, the Kazakh-born fighter was knocked out by Samuel Peter - the "Nigerian Nightmare" who was himself stopped by a returning Vitali Klitschko next time out.

RUSLAN CHAGAEV

If the WBA was a sofa, Chagaev would be the loose change they continue to find lurking between the cushions. He first won the organisation's belt with a majority decision win over Valuev in April 2007, although subsequent illness and injury led to him being declared "champion in recess". As such, the WBA belt was not on the line when his corner waved off a June 2009 shellacking at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko after nine rounds.

The organisation then elected to install Chagaev not as its champion but number one challenger, and he dropped an August 2011 decision to Alexander Povetkin for the vacant belt. The story did not end there, however, as Chagaev and the unheralded Fres Oquendo were selected to box for the WBA's vacant "regular" title in July 2014. Almost two years and one competitive round later, Chagaev was knocked out by Lucas Browne, who then failed a drugs test. The Uzbek was given back his title, only to be stripped in July 2016 for failing to pay the WBA sanctioning fees for that already barely remembered Oquendo contest, seemingly ending the saga.

SULTAN IBRAGIMOV

Not one to linger like Chagaev, Russia's Sydney 2000 heavyweight silver medallist Ibragimov outpointed Briggs in his 22nd professional bout to lift the WBO belt in June 2007. Under the tutelage of Jeff Mayweather, he comfortably beat the great Evander Holyfield in his first defence. A unification showdown with Wladimir Klitschko was most notable for the Madison Square Garden crowd booing a safety-first affair. With that sole defeat, Ibragimov was gone, retiring in 2009 due to persistent injuries to his left hand.

ALEXANDER POVETKIN

Another decorated amateur, Povetkin won super-heavyweight gold at the 2004 Olympics and made four defences of the WBA title after beating Chagaev. To repeat a theme, all roads led to an uncompromising Klitschko, with Wladimir sending him to the canvas four times during a landslide Moscow triumph in October 2013. Failed drugs tests did little for Povetkin's wider reputation and put paid to a proposed meeting with Wilder.

A promising start unravelled to a seventh-round stoppage when challenging Joshua in September 2018, although Povetkin sensationally recovered from two knockdowns to ice Dillian Whyte this year. After losing the rematch, the Russian announced his retirement at the age of 41.

Anthony Joshua insists he has no specific game plan for his fight with Oleksandr Usyk, other than to win.

Joshua returns to action against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

Usyk, who has 13 knockouts from his 18 professional victories, has only previously fought twice against a heavyweight.

While the Ukrainian has insisted the pressure is all on Joshua, the reigning IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion says he has no particular strategy heading into the bout.

"I'm in there with the ultimate aim of winning. My goal is to either hurt you or beat you until I get the win," Joshua told Sky Sports.

"Whether it's the right hand, the uppercut or the jab... As long as it leads to a win. I could box on the front foot or the back foot. There is no real strategy except for winning."

Usyk beat Derek Chisora on points in London last year, while the 34-year-old has also previously defeated Tony Bellew on English soil.

"I'm physically conditioned and mentally conditioned. I should be fine. It's a big occasion, big pressure," continued Joshua, who had been set to face Tyson Fury before talks broke down due to the latter having to face Deontay Wilder in a trilogy bout.

"Bellew was at a different stage of his career when he took the fight. I'm at a different stage. So, what it means to me is different to what it meant to Bellew.

"Bellew put up a really good fight, and he came up short, which can happen in boxing. I will do everything to reverse what happened to Bellew and make it into my favour."

If Joshua and Fury both win their respective fights, then a heavyweight title bout could be on the cards yet again.

"I feel like I've got nothing else if I don't get this win," said Joshua. "It's not the end of the road but it's the start of a new chapter."

Usyk, meanwhile, insisted he will feel no anxiety in the hours leading up to the fight.

"The lack of nerves will help me," he told the Guardian. "I am not going to be nervous. Why would I be? It would not change anything. I will not get stronger, only weaker.

"I will be calm and confident and probably read a book before or watch a film and speak to my loved ones or my son. I am not going to do nerves at all."

Joe Joyce kept his heavyweight title ambitions on track with a sixth-round stoppage against Carlos Takam at Wembley Arena on Saturday.

The 35-year-old secured his latest win against former challenger Takam to stretch his unbeaten record to 13 fights, including 12 knockouts.

As the WBO's mandatory challenger, Joyce will now have a keen eye on the outcome of September's bout between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk.

"What I want is AJ or Usyk. I'm ready now and don't need any more tests," he told BT Sport.

Joyce absorbed pressure from Takam in the early rounds before a barrage of punches in the fourth put him in control of the contest.

A powerful left hook from Joyce at the start of the sixth startled Takam and the referee intervened with the Frenchman increasingly unsteady on his feet.

"He is still dangerous, so I had to take my opportunity when I got it," Joyce added.

"He did mildly hurt me, I had to use the sweet science of boxing such as movement and feints to get the performance done.

"He didn't say anything about the stoppage, he is a warrior. It was a very tough fight, so my respect to him.

"I will go back in the gym and watch my fights back, analyse my performance and work on my mistakes, like when I got caught with silly shots."

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles against former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on September 25.

Joshua had been in negotiations to face Tyson Fury in an all-British blockbuster but an arbitration hearing ruled Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face the WBC champion for a third time.

Fury and Wilder's trilogy showdown was set to take place this weekend before the 'Gypsy King' tested positive for coronavirus.

That bout has now been shifted to October 9 in Las Vegas, meaning Joshua will have another chance to impress before his heavyweight rivals step out again.

That is not to say looking ahead to future contests would be wise for the 31-year-old, given the exceptionally skilled Usyk is intent on cleaning up at heavyweight as he did in the 200lbs division and boasts a professional record of 18 victories and no defeats.

Joshua avenged his shock loss to Andy Ruiz with a lopsided points win over the Mexican-American in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019. The sole defence of his second reign as champion came with a dominant ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, before Joshua's latest period of Fury-based frustration began.

Usyk has previously enjoyed success in the UK, both when he knocked out Tony Bellew in his final fight at cruiserweight and outpointed the veteran Dereck Chisora last year.

The Ukrainian also won heavyweight gold at London 2012, where Joshua triumphed at super-heavyweight. Indeed, this will be the first professional meeting between men who won Olympic gold medals in those respective categories.

"We are two Olympic gold medallists who have fought our way to the top and never avoided challenges," Joshua said.

"The stadium is exceptional, the atmosphere will be electric. I'm honoured to be the first person to fight in such an awe-inspiring venue. The stage is set and I am ready to handle business."

Joshua's stadium shows have become a fixture of UK boxing in the modern era.

He stopped Wladimir Klitschko in a thrilling Wembley contest in April 2017 before a September 2018 KO of Alexander Povetkin at the same venue – a fight for which Usyk was in attendance.

In between those triumphs, he beat Carlos Takam and then-WBO champion Joseph Parker at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

In his sole remarks around the fight announcement, Usyk cryptically said: "The path will be mastered by the walking one."

While most Olympic sports are about elite athletes reaching the pinnacle, few are more effective in pointing us towards the superstars of tomorrow than boxing.

That is not to say Olympic gold in the ring cannot be a crowning career achievement in its own right, but making a national squad for the Games can often precede a glittering career in the professional ranks.

Ukrainian middleweight Oleksandr Khyzhniak, Russian heavyweight Muslim Gadzhimagomedov, Cuban light-welterweight Andy Cruz and British featherweight Peter McGrail are among those hoping to take the first step on the road to becoming household names.

Here, we look at some of the men and women they will be looking to emulate.

 

Muhammad Ali

Still known as Cassius Clay, 'The Greatest' first showcased his dazzling skills to the world as an 18-year-old at the Rome Games in 1960, carving out an elegant path to gold in the light-heavyweight division. Poland's 1956 bronze medallist and reigning European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski presented some problems with his southpaw style in the final but Ali would not be denied.

Sugar Ray Leonard

Future rivals Joe Frazier and George Foreman followed in Ali's footsteps with heavyweight gold in 1964 and 1968 respectively, but by the time that celebrated heavyweight era was winding down the United States had another golden generation of talent to get excited about in the form of their 1976 Olympic squad. The cream of the crop was a light-welterweight Leonard, who dazzled on his way to gold – not dropping a single round and then putting Cuban knockout artist Carlos Aldama on the canvas and forcing a standing eight-count in a stunning final victory.

Lennox Lewis

In a fitting precursor to his professional career, Lewis found Olympics glory was something worth waiting for. Representing Canada, he lost to American Tyrell Biggs at the 1984 games before returning four years later to stop Riddick Bowe in the Seoul 88 super-heavyweight final. Lewis avenged the Biggs loss early in his pro-career and a maiden reign as WBC champion came when Bowe refused a mandatory defence against the Briton. Career-defining wins over Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson to stand tall among his peers remained the best part of a decade away.

Oscar de la Hoya

De la Hoya captured the hearts of a nation with his mega-watt smile, making good on his mother's dying wish that he would become Olympic champion. The all-action Mexican-American with a devastating left-hook saw off Germany's Marco Rudolph in the lightweight final at Barcelona 92. The 'Golden Boy' moniker that would dominate the sport in the ring and – more significantly – in a commercial sense for a chunk of the modern era was born and De La Hoya went on to win professional world titles in six weight classes.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

For those hopefuls who leave Tokyo without gold, there are plenty of examples of elite fighters who went on to incredible success without Olympic glory. None more so than all-time great Mayweather, who had to settle for bronze at Atlanta 96 after a controversial points loss to Serafim Todorov. After 50 professional fights and 26 unblemished world title contests across five weight divisions, the unheralded Bulgarian Todorov – who had a brief 6-1 pro career – remains the last man to beat Mayweather in a boxing ring.

Andre Ward

Another US stylist who went his entire professional career without ever tasting defeat, Ward actually managed to go one better than Mayweather before dominating at super-middleweight and light-heavyweight. At the Athens 2004 Games, the Californian outpointed Magomed Aripgadjiev of Belarus to claim light-heavyweight gold.

Vasyl Lomachenko

Ukrainian master Lomachenko boxed for a world title in his second professional fight and quickly became one of boxing's leading pound-for-pound stars. That unprecedented progress through the paid ranks makes a little more sense when you consider his utterly absurd amateur record of 396 wins and one defeat. It wasn't really as if anyone in either the featherweight division at Beijing 2008 or at lightweight during London 2012 stood too much of a chance as Lomachenko swept to consecutive golds.

Anthony Joshua

Packed crowds roaring Joshua on to glory are a long-established theme of his two reigns as unified heavyweight champion. Joshua first felt the thrilling weight of a nation behind him when he snuck past reigning Olympic champion and two-time super-heavyweight champion Italian Roberto Cammarelle on countback at the ExCel Arena on the closing weekend of London 2012, having trailed by three points going into the final round.

Katie Taylor

The only fight on the same level as Joshua's gold medal bout – and arguably a level above – in terms of noise at London 2012 was Taylor's opening clash against Great Britain's Natasha Jonas, a rivalry they reprised in the pro ranks earlier this year. Both times, Taylor in all her whirring majesty was successful and the Irish icon secured lightweight gold in the English capital. She was a five-time world champion in the amateurs and, even though she could not go back-to-back in Rio, she then turned over and set about redefining women's boxing all over again as a two-weight world champion.

Claressa Shields

Taylor has indisputably blazed a trail for female boxers and it is one the classy and cocky Shields has ebulliently followed. Victories over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova at London 2012 and Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands at Rio 2016 gave the American back-to-back middleweight golds. She became an undisputed middleweight champion in the pros with a unanimous decision win over the great Christina Hammer in April 2019, before dropping down to do likewise at super-welterweight versus Marie Eve Dicaire earlier this year.

Eddie Hearn has confirmed that September 25 will be the date for Anthony Joshua's fight with Oleksandr Usyk.

The WBO ordered Joshua to step into the fight with former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk as a proposed all-British heavyweight battle with Tyson Fury fell through.

IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua was due to take on Fury in Saudi Arabia in August before a court arbitration in the United States ruled the WBC strap-holder must face Deontay Wilder for a third time.

With Fury and Wilder III set to be staged in Las Vegas on July 24, Joshua (24-1) will come up against Ukrainian Usyk (18-0) two months later.

Joshua's promoter Hearn did not reveal a venue for the bout, but revealed during an Instagram live chat: "Working towards September 18 or September 25."

The Matchroom boss added: "Joshua-Usyk announcement? Don't want to say two weeks, 'cos you guys are bored of me saying that, but soon - September 25 is the date."

Joshua this week vowed a showdown with Fury is still on the cards.

"Unfortunately, his [Fury's] team let the whole boxing world down," Joshua told Sky Sports. "I will still be here, still ready to put on a show.

"[The Fury fight can happen at the] end of the year. Let me get past Usyk first. But with or without Usyk in my life, I will fight Fury.

"Usyk isn't the be-all and end-all. Usyk doesn't determine the Fury fight. The Fury fight has to happen. It's a big fight, bigger than boxing, bigger than the belts.

"It will happen. After the Usyk fight, after I defend my belts. The fight will be bigger, better than what it would have been."

Anthony Joshua remains convinced his heavyweight blockbuster with Tyson Fury will still happen despite the pair's undisputed showdown collapsing earlier this year.

Joshua, the IBF, WBA and WBO champion, was set to take on Fury in August in Saudi Arabia before a court arbitration in the United States ruled the WBC king must face Deontay Wilder for a third time.

Fury v Wilder III will take place in Las Vegas on July 24, with Joshua now set to face former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

As high-quality as those two encounters promise to be, it still amounts to a less-than-ideal situation in terms of the fight boxing's glamour division demands.

Joshua reiterated his belief that the collapse of the bout remains the responsibility of Fury's handlers and pledged to make the bout happen.

"Unfortunately, his team let the whole boxing world down," he told Sky Sports. "I will still be here, still ready to put on a show.

"[The Fury fight can happen at the] end of the year. Let me get past Usyk first. But with or without Usyk in my life, I will fight Fury.

"Usyk isn't the be-all and end-all.

"Usyk doesn't determine the Fury fight. The Fury fight has to happen. It's a big fight, bigger than boxing, bigger than the belts.

"It will happen. After the Usyk fight, after I defend my belts.

"The fight will be bigger, better than what it would have been."

Fury pledged Joshua would be one of several leading heavyweights in line for "the biggest beatdown they have had in their lives" after he faces Wilder, who he believes "would knock Joshua out in the first round".

Joshua added: "I am 100 per cent sure that I will fight him and win. You've got to ask him the same question. I'm not too sure [what he would say].

"We did everything. During a global pandemic, the toughest time to organise a fight like that, we managed to have 20,000 fans available, a site fee, the media ready, my name was on the contract, I was in training.

"Then boom, they cancelled. I stay ready to fight them all because I'm a throwback fighter."

Tyson Fury revealed he has signed a contract to face Deontay Wilder again in a trilogy fight, less than a week after announcing a heavyweight unification bout against Anthony Joshua was "100 per cent on".

Fury has a 30-0-1 record, only failing to win in an initial meeting with Wilder in December 2018.

However, Fury knocked out the American in February 2020 to claim the WBC title, with a clash against British rival Joshua an apparently obvious next step.

Progress looked to have been made on that blockbuster fight and, last weekend, the WBC champion even confirmed a date and venue – August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

A significant complication subsequently emerged, though, as Wilder won an arbitration hearing that stated he had the right to a third Fury bout.

This derailed plans with WBO, IBF and WBA strap-holder Joshua, and Fury instead penned an agreement to take on Wilder once more as he attended Saturday's light welterweight title fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez.

In a video posted on social media by Top Rank Boxing and shared by Fury, he said: "I'm going to sign the contract for the Wilder III fight, because Wilder's a p****, an excuse-maker and a s***house.

"Shall we do it and put him out his misery?

"[He is going to get] seriously smashed to bits. [I will] crack the other side of his skull, give him another shoulder injury, another bicep injury, another leg injury, a nutsack injury, the whole lot.

"Are you sure now, or shall we just hijack out of here, go to Saudi Arabia and fight someone else?"

The footage then showed Fury signing the paperwork, before he addressed the camera and his opponent: "Wilder, contract signed. You're getting smashed.

"When I say smashed, I mean smash, smash, smash, bang. You're getting knocked out. One round. You're going.

"I've got your soul, your mojo, everything. I own you. Super smashed."

The WBO has ordered Joshua to face Oleksandr Usyk, meanwhile, with any possibility of a Joshua-Fury showpiece now delayed at least until the defence of these titles.

Anthony Joshua has been ordered to fight Oleksandr Usyk after hopes for a summer showdown with Tyson Fury faded this week. 

The WBO on Saturday sent a letter ordering the unified heavyweight titleholder to fight Usyk (18-0), the sanctioning body's mandatory challenger. 

While Joshua (24-1) holds the WBO, IBF and WBA belts, Fury (30-0-1) claimed the WBC title from the previously unbeaten Deontay Wilder (41-1-1) in their February 2020 rematch following a draw in their initial bout.

On Monday, a judge in the United States ruled that the dethroned champion had the right to face the Briton for a third time before September 15.

Two days later, the WBO sent Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn a letter giving him 48 hours to show cause why it should not mandate a title defense against Usyk. 

On Friday, Hearn asked the body for an extension until Monday, but the WBO denied that request Saturday. 

The WBO gave the Joshua and Usyk camps 10 days to finalise an agreement for a fight, or the body will order a purse bid. 

Should that happen, the letter said, Joshua would receive 80 per cent of the minimum $1million bid and Usyk 20 per cent. 

 

 

Anthony Joshua has branded heavyweight rival Tyson Fury a "fraud" as their blockbuster unification showdown appears on the brink of collapse.

Joshua, the IBF, WBA and WBO champion, and Fury, who holds the WBC belt, have been in negotiations over a fight to crown the undisputed ruler in the division.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said he expected to announce an August 14 showdown, to take place in Saudi Arabia, this week, but Deontay Wilder – who Fury sensationally deposed last year – has derailed plans.

Wilder won an arbitration hearing on Monday that recognised his contractual right to a third bout with Fury, with whom he shared a thrilling 2018 draw before suffering a first career loss via seventh-round stoppage in February 2020.

Fury's promoter Bob Arum told ESPN that Fury-Wilder III has been provisionally booked at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for July 24, stating step aside payments were not an option.

"It's better to get rid of [Wilder] and go about our business. We can make the Fury-Joshua fight for November or December," he said.

Joshua, who might now face his WBO mandatory challenger and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, expressed frustration that the Fury fight came so close to fruition before hitting a stumbling block, accusing his fellow Briton of using the whole episode as a publicity stunt.

He tweeted: "@Tyson_Fury the world now seen you for the fraud you are. You've let boxing down!

"You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout, not a fight. Bring me any championship fighter who can handle their business correctly."

Fury was typically strident in his response, proposing a fanciful bare-knuckle bout with Joshua for a combined £40million.

"Your (sic) more full of s*** that (sic) Eddie. Spouting absolute s****. Your team knew there was an Arbitration going on, it was out of my hands!

"But I tell you what if I'm a fraud let's fight this weekend bar (sic) knuckles till 1 man quits? Let's put up 20 mill each."

The barbs continued, with Joshua saying, "I'll slap your bad head and you'll do nothing" and Fury labelling his countryman a "dosser" a "bum" and a "bottle job".

Fury became a two-time world heavyweight champion when he stopped Wilder and remains undefeated in 30 professional fights, with 29 wins and a draw.

His first title victory came when he out-pointed long-reigning unified champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 before spending time away from the ring due to personal problems.

Joshua duly collected the IBF, WBA and WBO titles with wins over Charles Martin, Klitschko and Joseph Parker respectively.

He lost those belts in a shock stoppage loss to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019, a sole professional defeat that he avenged in a rematch before the end of that year.

Eddie Hearn is preparing to push on with finding an alternative opponent for Anthony Joshua if Tyson Fury's team are unable to "get their act together" by the end of the week.

Heavyweight rivals Joshua and Fury had appeared set for a huge showdown in Saudi Arabia on August 14, only for an arbitration ruling involving Deontay Wilder to potentially scupper that plan.

While Joshua holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, Fury claimed the WBC title from the previously unbeaten Wilder in their February 2020 rematch following a draw in their initial bout.

On Monday, a judge in the United States ruled that the dethroned champion had the right to face the Briton for a third time before September 15, casting huge doubt over the unification clash scheduled for a month earlier.

With the possibility of Fury no longer being available, Hearn is ready to look elsewhere for his fighter. Oleksandr Usyk – the mandatory challenger for Joshua's WBO strap – is a possibility, though the promoter plans to make sure he has more than one option on the table.

"I've been focused on plan A. The only fight we had in mind was Tyson Fury," Hearn said in an in-depth interview aired on the Matchroom Boxing YouTube channel on Tuesday.

"We hope that fight can still take place on August 14, but the game changed last night. We have to have a plan B in place – and possibly a plan C as well.

"We have a couple of different options. Of course, the one that springs to mind is the WBO mandatory of Oleksandr Usyk. They have been quite patient and, really, we're in a situation now where if team Fury don't get their act together by the end of this week, we will have no option but to look for an alternative fight.

"AJ wants to fight this summer, Oleksandr Usyk is the mandatory and we have two or three other options as well."

Hearn revealed how fellow promoter Bob Arum, who is part of Fury's team, had been "very bullish" over the hearing not being a potential roadblock in the way of the lucrative summer fight with Joshua.

"I think he was in complete and utter shock – and I don't think I've ever really heard him speechless," Hearn said of his conversation with Arum.

"He's been very bullish throughout this whole process that – and I know it's their business and we don't know too much about the contracts or the case – this wouldn't be a problem, this wouldn't stand in the way of an Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury fight.

"That's quite frustrating. We've been working tirelessly to get this over the line. He was almost shell-shocked, I think. Once he'd calmed down and done what he had to do, I think the move was then to speak to the other side and see if there's a resolution.

"We can't be involved in that, we can't control that process, but as far as I understand it, Tyson Fury wants to fight Anthony Joshua and we had the deal to do so on August 14 in Saudi Arabia. I spoke to our partners in Saudi Arabia and they were not best pleased either.

"I think the conversations are ongoing, but from our point of view we have to get our own side in order and make our plans. Hopefully, they can resolve the issue and we can move forward with the August 14 fight. It's over to them."

Asked if he still remained hopeful over that August bout going ahead, Hearn replied: "I hope it does, because we've grafted away for four or five months to make this happen, and we've got a fantastic deal in place for a legacy fight for a huge amount of money.

"I hope, hope [it goes ahead], but hopeful? I don't know. Everything we were told from the get-go was that this arbitration issue wouldn't be a problem. It obviously is a problem now and we have to think on our feet, act accordingly.

"We still hope that the fight can go ahead, but that's completely out of our hands.

"We know what we want to do: we want to win the undisputed world championship and fight Tyson Fury. But, really, if his hands are tied, we have to look elsewhere."

Tyson Fury continued to talk up his plan to beat Anthony Joshua in a heavyweight unification bout on Monday, although a report suggested the fight was under threat.

Fury announced on his Twitter page at the weekend that the showdown with Joshua is "100 per cent on" for August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua's IBF, WBA and WBO titles and Fury's WBC belt are all set to be on the line in the long-awaited clash.

Mocking himself up as "Tyson of Arabia", in reference to the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, Fury posted on Monday: "Time to take back what I never lost.

"Every belt there [sic] all mine chump!"

However, the Daily Star reported a potential complication as it claimed Deontay Wilder, beaten by Fury last February following a controversial initial draw, had won his claim for a trilogy fight.

Rather than pay a sum to the American for him to step aside as Fury instead fought Joshua, the WBC champion would have to defend his title against Wilder by September 15.

Fury is undefeated after 31 career fights, with that draw with Wilder the only minor blemish on his 30-0-1 record.

Tyson Fury has announced his heavyweight showdown with Anthony Joshua is "100 per cent on" for August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

The respective teams for the two rivals have been involved in protracted negotiations over a unification fight, but it appears a date has now been agreed upon by both sides.

Joshua's IBF, WBA and WBO titles will be on the line in the bout, while the unbeaten Fury currently holds the WBC belt.

In a video posted on social media on Sunday, Fury made clear his delight as he confirmed the details for the bout, while he also promised to "smash" his fellow Briton when they finally face each other.

"I've got some massive news for you all, guys. I've just got off the phone with Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia and he's told me that this fight is 100 per cent on," he said.

"August 14, 2021, summertime. All eyes of the world will be on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and I cannot wait, repeat, cannot wait to smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all time.

"This is going to be the biggest sporting event to grace planet Earth. Do not miss it. All eyes on us."

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn revealed recently that organisers in Saudi Arabia plan to "shock the world" with a purpose-built venue for the much-anticipated bout.

Joshua has previously fought in Diriyah, beating Andy Ruiz Jr there in December 2019 to avenge the only loss of his professional career to date.

"They want to create something very, very special. Last time they built a stadium for the Andy Ruiz Jr fight in just seven weeks and it held 18,000," Hearn told Sky Sports.

"This will be a similar set-up. They have the opportunity to hold it indoors but they want to create something that will shock the world.

"They want to build a stadium just for this fight."

Eddie Hearn says the first fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury will take place in August and confirmed the "bad secret" that it will take place in Saudi Arabia is accurate.

Exact details have yet to be officially disclosed for the heavyweight unification fight which will see Joshua defend his WBA, WBO and IBF world titles against undefeated WBC champion Fury.

But Hearn has consistently said the fight is on and has now narrowed it down to two potential dates in August.

While Joshua had previously talked up the prospect of fighting at Wembley, the fighters will do battle in Saudi Arabia, ahead of a second bout later in 2021.

"August 7 or August 14," Joshua's manager Hearn told Sky Sports News when asked when the first fight would take place.

"Look, I think it is a very bad secret that the fight is happening in Saudi Arabia – I don’t mind giving you that information as Bob Arum has already done it.

"I have told you it's the same people that we did the deal with for Andy Ruiz, that event was spectacular, as partners they were fantastic as well.

"We are very comfortable, Anthony is comfortable, he knows those people, they delivered on every one of their promises last time - so we are ready to go.

"That's gonna be the date.

"You've obviously got the Olympics finishing on August 7 so in terms of a global spectacle it would make sense to go on the 14th.

"But that's one of the things to tick off in hopefully the next few days."

The update from Hearn comes after Joshua and Fury exchanged barbs on social media, with each calling on the other to take action and agree terms.

Joshua said he and his fans were "tired" of delays and called for more action from the Fury camp.

Fury responded by branding Joshua "an ugly Dosser" and urged him to "come get some", insisting the Joshua and Matchroom side were "no talk and no action".

Hearn is frustrated that a deal is not finalised despite broad agreement between the two camps.

He added: "I saw the tweets from AJ. He's tired, the fans are tired, and everyone is tired.

"We're in a stage where people are getting frustrated. The deal is done. Now we're on the finer details of the contract, which came back last Friday. It went back last night.

"They are on calls now in the office about it, and I think at some point people are going to have to take a little bit of a leap of faith in this deal.

"From our perspective and AJ's perspective, we're ready to go. From Tyson Fury's perspective, they've got a couple of lawyers across it from their point.

"The tweet from AJ last night was, 'Come on, less talk, more action. Let's get this done!'.

"There's no reason why it shouldn't happen this week. This is kind of like the moment where you could actually turn around at this point and say, 'This is dragging on too long, or I can't be dealing with this anymore'.

"But we have to nail this, and I'm not going to stop until I nail it, and everyone has just got to move forward collectively.

"We're ready to go from our side. We're not far away from their side and it is inevitable, but at the same time, we've got to close the door on it."

Joshua has a 24-1 record after avenging his only career defeat to Ruiz prior to defeating Kubrat Pulev in London and defending his titles at the end of last year.

Fury is undefeated in 31 contests, with one draw against Deontay Wilder, the American who he beat in their rematch to claim the WBC crown in February 2020, which was the last time he fought.

Tyson Fury is ready to give Anthony Joshua a "good hiding" and revealed to promoter Eddie Hearn exactly how he will take down the reigning IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion.

A deal is in place for the pair to fight twice, though a location is yet to be disclosed, with Joshua describing Wembley as "ideal".

Fury, nicknamed the Gypsy King, is the WBC champion after dethroning Deontay Wilder last year and is full of confidence ahead of what is primed to be a spectacular double-header.

"I can't wait to get the big dosser in the ring and give him a good hiding," he said on Hearn's podcast, No Passion No Point.

"Prove to the world what a fake he is and that there's only one dominant heavyweight champion – the Gypsy King.

"Undefeated, indestructible, unbeatable – never will lose a fight in the history of this sport, ever. I will retire with the crown."

Asked by Hearn if he thought this would be "an easy fight," Fury replied: "100 per cent, I cannot be beat by a fighter.

"A normal fighting man cannot beat the Gypsy King. The only person that can beat the Gypsy King is me.

"AJ couldn't lace my boots, definitely not."

Hearn declared his belief that Joshua would prevail and Fury credited him with turning the Briton into a "superstar boxer", but said defeat was inevitable for the 31-year-old.

"Your boy, you've built him up from scratch, you've done an absolutely fantastic job by the way, congratulations to you and your team," Fury said.

"You took an amateur boxer and made him into a superstar boxer and the finished article.

"It's just a shame that he has to be in the same era as the Gypsy King."

And Fury even went as far as to describe exactly how he would get the job done.

"When I say I will smash him to pieces and it won't be a tough fight, like I said I was gonna knock Wilder out and I did, I'm gonna say it here again – I will cut Anthony Joshua down like a hot knife through cheese," he said.

"That's how easy it's gonna be. When he gets cracked with all them muscles right in the jaw, he will go.

"I will tell you even what punch it's gonna be, I'll even give my game plan away.

"It'll be a check left hook straight to the temple. His legs will go and he'll fall on his face.

"He may get back up and then I'll knock him out with the overhand right, goodnight."

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