Tyson Fury has vowed to "obliterate" Deontay Wilder when he puts his WBC world heavyweight title on the line in Saturday's trilogy fight at the T-Mobile Arena.

The 33-year-old looked in tremendous condition at Friday's weigh-in as he tipped the scales at 277 pounds — four pounds heavier than he was in his most recent meeting with Wilder 20 months ago.

Wilder is also at a career-high weight of 238, an increase of seven pounds, but Fury does not believe he will have any problems stopping his American opponent for a second time in a row.

Asked what the advantage is of coming in heavier this time around, Fury said: "It means total obliteration of a dosser! Total annihilation. That is what it means to me.

"Two-hunded-and-seventy-seven pounds... I am going to put him in the royal infirmary after the fight."

The 39-pound difference between the two is the closest across their three fights. 

"I wanted to look tasty and feel sexy," Wilder said of his physique. "I am bench pressing over 350 so I will be able to lift him. We just wanted to have fun in camp, we had a great time. The say you practice for perfect, we practiced for permanent.

"Calmness is the key to the storm. I know when I am not calm my mind is cloudy, when my mind is cloudy it allows you to make bad decisions. 

"When you are calm you are able to make great decisions. I have rejuvenated myself, redemption is upon us and I can't wait to show the world what I am all about." 

This will be the third chapter in a heavyweight rivalry that has produced plenty of drama in the past, both in and out of the ring.

After a contentious split-decision draw in the first meeting back in December 2018, the rematch saw Fury take the judges out of the equation with a dominant performance, forcing a seventh-round stoppage that not only saw Wilder lose the WBC title but also his unbeaten record as a pro.

The trilogy was not seemingly on the cards — or at least not this soon — until the outcome of an arbitration hearing, a judge ruling the reigning champion was contractually obliged to face his former foe again, ending the possibility of a unification showdown with Anthony Joshua.

Fury contracting COVID-19 led to a further delay, scuppering an original July fight date, but, finally, the stage is set in Las Vegas for the pair to meet again.

For Wilder, this is an opportunity to rebuild his reputation. He hopes a new man in his corner can help: Malik Scott once lost to his fellow American in the ring, now he is tasked with formulating a plan to get his old foe back on top.

Scott has certainly talked the talk in the build-up, even predicting his fighter gets the job done inside five rounds after working hard to refine his game.

"He got content with knocking people out with one weapon, which was the right hand," Scott said. 

"What I did was I went to his toolbox and pulled everything out that he does well. Deontay Wilder can do it all. I just pulled a lot of stuff out of him in training camp. I made sure we drilled him with intent."

The development of Wilder, a power hitter whose boxing skills have always been questioned, is just one of the intriguing plot lines going into a contest that should make for absorbing viewing, whatever the final outcome.

 

TALE OF THE TAPE

TYSON FURY

Age: 33
Height: 6ft 9ins (206cm)
Weight: 277lbs
Reach: 85ins
Professional record: 30-0-1 (21 KOs)
Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO heavyweight

DEONTAY WILDER

Age: 35
Height: 6ft 7ins (201cm)
Weight: 238lbs
Reach: 83ins 
Professional record: 42-1-1 (41 KOs)
Major career titles: WBC heavyweight

After a positive COVID-19 test led to a delay, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will finally fight for a third time on Saturday.

Their initial meeting, way back in December 2018, was an epic, a drama-filled 12 rounds followed by a controversial twist with the verdict. While the action delighted all who had watched on, the split-decision draw satisfied no one.

If there were questions asked from that first bout, Fury provided emphatic answers in the rematch just under 15 months later.

Wilder not only lost his WBC title but also his unbeaten record, blitzed by a foe who made sure the scorecards were not required again.

So, what can we expect when the duo battle again in the ring? Before the first bell, look back at the story of the rivalry so far…

Early Christmas present a long time in the making

Fury and Wilder had seemed on a collision course well before their first clash, which was staged in Los Angeles. Indeed, the former had called out the American not long after beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, getting into the ring to declare 'The 'Bronze Bomber' a "bum" after watching his rival defeat Artur Szpilka by stoppage.

They were again both inside the ropes when Fury defeated Francesco Pianeta in Belfast in August 2018, his second fight since returning to action. With a December 1 date finally booked, there was a press tour that took in three cities and saw plenty of words exchanged: they even had to be separated at the final news conference before the fighting started early.

Once they did get down to business, Wilder – coming in at his lightest weight since his pro debut – struggled to get to grips with the size of the task at hand against the bigger Fury, though he eventually caught up with him to score a knockdown in the ninth round.

If that moment was eye-catching, when he dropped him again in the 12th and final round, it appeared to have emphatically ended the contest.

However, Fury somehow recovered in time, climbing up off his back to beat the count. Having managed to make it through to hear the final bell, the challenger then listened on as the scores were read out: 115-111 Wilder, 114-112 Fury, 113-113 draw. Both felt they had done enough to get the verdict in the aftermath, yet the result just left everyone wanting more.

Eventually, we got it…

'Unfinished Business' delivers emphatic outcome

Both fighters added two more wins to their career records to remain unbeaten for the long-awaited rematch in February 2020. Fury actually managed three, if you count a brief foray into the world of wrestling.

When it came to the day job, the Briton opted to work with SugarHill Steward for the rematch. The switch in trainer led to a change in tactics, too.

Coming in considerably heavier than the first meeting, Fury wasted little time in taking control. His relentless attacks put Wilder down in the third round, then again in an eventful fifth that saw the aggressor deducted a point for holding.

During the seventh, co-trainer Mark Breland had seen enough, throwing in the towel to spare Wilder further punishment. The decision, however, was heavily criticised by the beaten fighter: "I just wish my corner would have let me go out on my shield - I'm a warrior and that's what I do."

Wilder also pointed to an elaborate ring-walk costume, made in honour of Black History Month, having an impact on performance, the 40-pound suit and matching headgear leaving him with "no legs" from the outset. His words carried little weight, however, and it appeared both men would move in opposite directions to continue their careers.

Changing times, but will it change the result?

Malik Scott is the new trainer in Wilder's team, the former opponent now charged with the task of working on a plan for the challenger to topple Fury and reclaim the WBC title.

It needed an arbitration hearing to make this third fight happen, though. Fury appeared set to take on Anthony Joshua in a lucrative showdown to find a new undisputed champion, only for a judge to rule he was still contracted to face his old foe instead.

The trilogy was originally booked for July 24, only for Fury to test positive for coronavirus in the build-up. A new October date was confirmed, but in the meantime Joshua lost his grip on the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk.

A clash with the unbeaten Ukrainian could be in store for whoever wins at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, but such talk can wait for the aftermath.

For now, the only focus for both Fury and Wilder is making sure they come out on top in the latest chapter of this rivalry, one that has seen far more words exchanged than actual punches.

Considering all that has happened beforehand, it should not be taken for granted that it is the last episode, either.

Tyson Fury insisted Deontay Wilder's "legacy is in bits" as he vowed to knock out his American opponent in Saturday's trilogy fight.

Wilder suffered a technical knockout defeat to Fury almost 20 months ago at MGM Grand after their drama-filled first fight in December 2018 ended with a split-decision draw.

The pair face off again at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this weekend as unbeaten Fury makes the first defence of his WBC world heavyweight title.

And Fury continued to goad his rival, who made a string of excuses for the defeat last time out – the first of his professional career – at Wednesday's final news conference.

"You're in denial and you're going to get knocked out and retire," Fury said.

"Your legacy is in bits. All the excuses, you've been destroyed. No one has believed you. They're all laughing at you like a weak piece of s***.

"You're a weak man, you're getting knocked out."

Wilder has remained largely quiet in the build-up to the high-profile bout but he eventually rose to the taunts, insisting Fury is not capable of knocking him out on Saturday.

"You don't know nothing about knocking anyone out. You don't have knockout power. You're not a knockout artist."

Responding to Wilder's "legacy" claims, Wilder said: "When you know the truth, they say the truth will set you free. 

"I have no pressure, there is nothing to lose, everything to gain.

"All the pressure is on him. Your legacy only dies when the man dies, when the desire and fire in your heart dies, when that dies so does your legacy, and I am well alive.

"We have got a lot of things in line, in order, this is what the world needs to know, there is a lot of things I could put out there, but silence is golden."

Both men were set for a traditional stare down after exchanging words, but promoter Bob Arum called it off and the boxers left the stage in opposite directions.

"At the end, we were going to do a face-off and Wilder ran away! Welcome to my world, b****," Fury later told iFL TV.

Tyson Fury knows he will be "playing with an atomic bomb" when he steps into the ring for a third fight with Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Fury and Wilder will do battle in a trilogy bout at the T-Mobile Arena almost 20 months after the American's corner threw the towel in to end their rematch at the MGM Grand.

Wilder floored Fury before the Brit beat the count and went on to win the WBC world heavyweight title in February 2020.

The unbeaten Fury says there is no way he will be taking "the most dangerous heavyweight out there" lightly this weekend.

"A lot of people are writing Wilder off in this fight," Fury said at a BT Sport Box Office event.

"They almost look at him like he's a bum. Like he can't fight and he's useless. You can't write him off.

"Make no mistake about this, Deontay Wilder is the most dangerous heavyweight out there. Combine them all together and they don't make a danger like Wilder.

"So that's what I'm messing with. I'm playing with an atomic bomb, messing around, clipping wires. Every time you go into the ring with Deontay Wilder you're playing with that danger.

"This is the third time now I've been in the ring with him and every single time he's been very dangerous. He's a very dangerous hombre with big, big power and he can close the distance quickly.

"With most boxers they need to hit you with five punches, with Wilder he can hit you with a quarter punch and knock you spark out."

Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua could still go head-to-head in the ring even if the latter "isn't a champion" because the British public would still "buy into" the occasion, according to promoter Frank Warren.

Fury is set to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday as they conclude a contentious trilogy, and while the 'Gypsy King' is seen as favourite, he will be well aware of what could happen if he fails to hit top form after seeing Joshua come up short.

Joshua, who was tipped for a long-awaited duel with Fury next year, was beaten by Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

With Joshua now having to focus on reclaiming his lost WBA, IBF and WBO titles from Usyk in a rematch that is likely to take place in February, any bout with Fury now looks a long way off.

Though Warren, co-promoter for Fury, is adamant an appetite for the fight will remain even if Joshua does not go into the contest as a champion.

"I do believe the public buys into that fight even if AJ isn't champion," Warren told BBC Sport.

"AJ's said a lot of things since the fight [and] a lot of nonsense from 'doctor' [Joshua's promoter, Eddie] Hearn about his eye. You got beat by the better man on the night and Joshua said that, to his credit.

"Joshua is a big fight. They keep talking about him still learning. He's 32 years old. He's an Olympic champion and world champion.

"Of course, you can still learn every day, but at that level, at 32 years of age, with the experience you've got and the amount of professional fights you've got, if you're not absolutely world class at that level, then you're never going to be.

"But having said that, if he did fight Tyson he would have a lot to prove and I do think the public would buy into it."

Either way, Warren expects Fury to return to fight in the UK for the first time since 2018 regardless of who he fights next after Wilder.

"There's no Americans out there for him to fight. I think he'll be back here which will be a great homecoming," he continued.

"If Tyson wins the fight, we'll sit down. There's a few options there. Usyk would be a massive fight here. The Joshua fight is still a massive fight.

"Dillian Whyte is a big fight, providing he beats Otto Wallin, which isn't a foregone conclusion. There's some big fights for him."

Tyson Fury says he was "absolutely wounded" by Anthony Joshua's defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last weekend.

Usyk claimed Joshua's IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles on Saturday, outclassing the champion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 19-0 Usyk mastered Joshua, earning a unanimous points decision to leave the prospect of a unification fight between Fury and his fellow Briton in tatters.

With Joshua now looking set for a rematch with Usyk, Fury will put his WBC belt on the line when he faces Deontay Wilder for a third time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on October 9.

Fury revealed he was rocked by the second defeat Joshua has suffered in his career.

He said: "Did I watch the fight? Yes I did. Was I absolutely wounded that he won? Yes I was. I was hoping Joshua could win the fight, but he couldn't – and that’s none of my business.

"The only thing I'm bothered about is beating Deontay Wilder, and that's the most dangerous heavyweight out there. In my opinion, Wilder beats Joshua, Usyk, all the rest of the division, comfortable – but he cannot beat me."

Fury stated that he has "no interest in slating anybody or kicking anybody while they are down".

He added: "It ain't my style. I like to pick on someone who is doing well, successful, on top of the game – I don’t like picking on people who are down and probably at their lowest point and probably mentally unstable and unwell with a big loss after such a long reign.

"Usyk did his job, he had to do what he had to do, and that's that, and Joshua has got to do what he has got to do."

Fury is focused on beating Wilder for a second time rather than who he might fight after doing battle with the American.

"I don't care about anybody else – they are not on my radar, only the 'Bronze Bomber', aka the big dosser," he said.

"After him, we will talk, the promoters will do their job, and I will always do mine. Never worry about the 'Gypsy King' fulfilling his end of a bargain – I will always f****** fight until there's not a fight left in me.

"You just worry about the other people doing their end of the bargain."

Fury warned Wilder he has no chance of gaining revenge.

"I'm in fantastic shape, fit as a fiddle. I'm absolutely ready, today, tomorrow and forever. I'll always be ready, and I'll never make excuses," he said.

"When I beat Wilder, I'll be on to the next one, so on and so forth. It's never about the opponent. It's the Tyson Fury show until I hang those gloves up. Until that day, it's all about me, and the roadshow continues. All these years, 2008 to 2021, and I'm still undefeated.

"There ain't a man out there born from his mother that can stop me or beat me. I haven't seen one yet anyway. Maybe he’s not born, or maybe he is but he hasn’t got the guts to come and fight me."

Anthony Joshua must learn from his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk if he is to come back stronger and keep alive the possibility of facing Tyson Fury, according to Joseph Parker.

Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO titles to Usyk on Saturday after being outclassed by the Ukrainian on home soil at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 31-year-old had no answer to former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk and lost on a unanimous points decision.

It was just the second defeat of Joshua's professional career, having previously been stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 before reclaiming the belts in their rematch.

The prospect of Joshua and Fury facing off now appears slim, with the latter's promoter Frank Warren casting doubt on a bout that at one point looked certain to take place this year.

A rematch with 19-0 Usyk may now be on the cards for Joshua before he can contemplate facing Fury, who has a third clash with Deontay Wilder coming up on October 9.

But Parker, who was the first man to take Joshua the distance in their 2018 unification fight in Cardiff, believes there is still hope of an all-British heavyweight clash taking place.

"I feel like the point is just the best fighting the best," Parker told Stats Perform. "Even though AJ lost that fight to Usyk, he's still considered one of the best. 

"He's going to go down in history as one of the best heavyweights. I think people want to see the best fight the best and that's a fight that can still happen. 

"People will still be very interested to see who's the best British heavyweight there is."

Speaking after his surprise defeat in London at the weekend, Joshua said he is "110 per cent" up for a rematch with Usyk to win back his belts.

Despite the manner of the defeat, Parker has backed Joshua to put up a far stronger performance if he does step back into the ring with Usyk.

"I was a little surprised by the defeat," Parker said. "I mean, a lot of other people called it a 50-50 fight, a lot of people said it was going to be a tear up for AJ to win. 

"But Usyk showed everyone watching tremendous skill and footwork and movement. You just saw him outbox and outsmart AJ for the 12 rounds.

"But [Joshua's] a smart man and he's got a smart team. He's faced a loss and adversity and he's come back with a better game plan. That's what he's going to need to do. 

"I think I saw an interview saying he's already watched the fight straight after it happened and he just needs to make those adjustments and how to counter someone like Usyk.

"Who wins the rematch depends on the training, it depends on who shows up on the day. But going into the rematch, Usyk would have big confidence. 

"It's pretty crazy how he came from the cruiserweight division, unified champion of the world and then has three fights and he's the unified champion of the world. 

"That's the goal of a lot of heavyweights, is to be champion of the world and be unified champ. It's so crazy how things happen."

Joshua followed up his victory over Parker, which saw him retain his WBA, IBF and IBO belts and win the WBO title, with a knockout triumph over Alexander Povetkin.

The Briton has lost two of his following four fights, however, giving him a record of 24-2 and leading to inevitable suggestions that his career is now declining.

But Parker said: "It's hard to say if that's the case. From when I fought him, he's had a couple of wins, a loss to Ruiz and come back and beat him again.

"He's saying that he's improving and getting better, but maybe he just was faced with a fighter who was just different, you know, in his element. 

"When you see Usyk, with the footwork and the movement - he didn't really allow AJ to land his shots and catch him. He was just in and out and just very smart."

Anthony Joshua says he would still fight Tyson Fury without being a world champion after he was emphatically dethroned by Oleksandr Usyk.

Usyk outclassed Joshua at a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday to take the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles.

Joshua had no answer to the unbeaten Ukrainian, who secured a masterful unanimous decision victory and looked like stopping the Briton in the final round.

A rematch with the 19-0 Usyk could be on the cards for Joshua rather than a unification bout with Fury after he suffered the second defeat of his professional career on home soil.

The 31-year-old declared that he would be eager to fight his compatriot Fury, who faces a third clash with Deontay Wilder on October 9, regardless of whether he has any belts to put on the line.

"The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it's good," said Joshua, who suffered a badly swollen right eye in his loss in London.

"As I said, I'll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It's great, it's legacy. But with or without the belts, I'll fight whoever.

"The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

"But would you still watch it, without the belts? That's the main thing – is you've got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe.!

Asked if he would want a rematch with Usyk, Joshua said: "100 per cent. 110 per cent.

"I'm ready to get back to training. Because of the 12 rounds, my lungs and everything, it was a good 12-rounder, so I'll be in a good place when I get back into training to pick up where we left off."

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will meet for a third time on October 9, with the fight having to be rescheduled at short notice.

Fury and Wilder were set to meet in Las Vegas on July 24, yet Fury tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him into self-isolation and resulting in the bout being postponed.

The fight for the WBC heavyweight title will now take place on October 9, still at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.

Fury had been set to meet WBO, IBF and WBA champion Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia in August, but Wilder won an arbitration hearing that stated he had the right to a third fight.

It remains to be seen how the new date for the Wilder bout impacts Fury's plans to take on Joshua, though a meeting this year would now seem unlikely. 

Fury has a 30-0-1 career record, only failing to win in an initial meeting with Wilder in December 2018 that finished in a contentious split draw.

Tyson Fury has tested positive for COVID-19 and his trilogy fight against Deontay Wilder has been postponed, according to reports.

The BBC said Fury's coronavirus test took place on Thursday, and it quoted Wilder's manager Shelly Finkel as saying: "Deontay is disappointed."

An official announcement of the postponement has yet to come and tickets for the fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas remained on sale on Friday.

Neither fighter has commented, although a positive test for WBC heavyweight champion Fury would point to there being little prospect of the July 24 showdown going ahead.

According to The Athletic, the Vegas gym where Fury has been preparing for the Wilder fight has been affected by a series of COVID-19 cases, with "at least 10" people who have spent time there said to have tested positive.

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

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

A blockbuster clash with Joshua looked set to go ahead, and it was pencilled in for August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

Wilder then 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.

Now, though, pending the expected confirmation of the trilogy fight being put back, hopes that Fury and Joshua could go head to head before the end of the year look to have been dealt a major blow.

Reports have said the Fury-Wilder fight could go ahead in October, possibly on October 9, with the previous Saturday at the fight venue booked out for an Alanis Morissette concert.

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."

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