A summer showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury is “dead in the water”, according to the latter’s promoter.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said on Thursday he was “100 per cent confident” it would happen amid concerns over delays in finalising the Saudi Arabia super fight.
Bob Arum, though, believes it will not now be possible to complete negotiations in time and has called for the two men to arrange other fights for the summer.
Arum told the Telegraph: “It will take months for the Saudis to do their due diligence on such a huge deal.
“It is not just a site fee, there are ancillary demands from the Saudis stretching into the broadcast deals and other things. It could take months for it all to play out. It could even take until 2022 the way it looks right now.
“The fight in July or August is dead in the water as far as we are concerned. The two fighters need to go and have other fights this summer while the negotiations for that fight in the Middle East conclude.
“It is absurd what Hearn is saying that it is a done deal. If we had just done a site deal without all the other complications that have arisen, we would have a fight by now. Tyson Fury is fuming about it and is refusing to keep waiting.”
The fight will be the richest in British boxing history, with the two men holding all four of the major world titles in the heavyweight division between them.
When is the fight due to take place? Where will it be staged?
A contract for two fights between the boxers was signed earlier this year, but completing a date and a venue have proven to be problematic so far.
The showdown is believed to be taking place in Saudi Arabia on either July 31, August 7 or 14.
It was originally thought a purpose-built indoor arena would be built in the Middle East country because of the extreme summer temperatures but Hearn anticipates an outdoor setting with the fight expected to happen at night.
What did Eddie Hearn say?
Hearn understands why there might be uneasiness in the WBC champion’s camp, he insists a little faith is required.
With vast sums being thrown around – even low estimates suggest both fighters will land tens of millions of pounds – Hearn insisted no one should be questioning the legitimacy of those paying such figures to stage the contest.
“I know these are serious players,” Hearn said. “When they put it in writing that it is happening then it is happening. I’m 100 per cent confident this happens but I’m a positive person.
“I expected it to be signed by now but it could be signed by Friday. But it’s done, everything’s been provided in writing but I just think (Fury’s team) don’t believe it because they’ve not been involved in a deal like this.
“I’d like some positivity from them. All this stuff about ‘Hearn is desperate, running out of time’ and I think, ‘You lot have some cheek because they’ve done nothing, not one meeting’.
“They’re under pressure. I’m under pressure to make the fight but it is all ‘Eddie needs to hurry up’ and ‘Eddie needs to sort it’. We’re supposed to be partners in the event. It doesn’t seem like that.
“I would have walked away from this deal if it wasn’t for AJ because it means a lot to him and I don’t want to let him down.”