Tyson Fury, Dillian Whyte and the sound of heavyweight chaos

The saga over who Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua will face next is set to be decided this week

Steve Bunce
Tuesday 25 January 2022 14:29
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Anthony Joshua reflects on Oleksandr Usyk loss and previews rematch

Any silence during the endless negotiations for a difficult fight is always a good sign and right now the silence surrounding the Dillian Whyte and Tyson Fury fight is deafening.

So far this month, three deadlines for purse bids have come and gone without any chance of an announcement; the fourth and final deadline is noon at the WBC’s offices in Mexico City on Wednesday.

The WBC’s leader, Mauricio Sulaiman, insists that enough is enough and that a fight will be decided on his oak desk this week; the men running the heavyweight game disagree. Welcome to the complicated business of heavyweight championship boxing.

Fury has mentioned about six fighters in the last six weeks as his potential next opponent; his promoters here and in America have mentioned a few other names. Whyte is on the list, don’t panic.

Sure, it’s old news that Whyte is not happy with the proposed split of the spoils for a planned fight, but it has been a long, long time without a definitive word from Whyte or anybody truly involved.

Would Whyte take step-aside money to allow Fury to defend the WBC title against somebody else? Whyte has been waiting since 2017.

Frank Warren, who promotes Fury in Britain, believes a deal can be done this week; he is understandably shy about revealing exactly what type of deal.

Bob Arum, who promotes Fury in the USA, has mentioned venues and opponents on a weekly basis.

Eddie Hearn, who has promoted Whyte, has spoken about the planned purse split as a ludicrous deal and has pushed Whyte’s worth. The WBC decided Whyte should only get 20 per cent of a purse bid – a purse bid is when an interested promoter submits a figure for the right to stage the fight; the figure is divided according to the purse split. Simple, nothing has changed in over 120 years.

Hearn has also hinted that perhaps Anthony Joshua could play a role in Fury’s next fight. Not, sadly, as the opponent, but possibly by accepting the wild idea of a step-aside fee to allow Fury to tangle with Oleksandr Usyk; last September, Usyk shocked Joshua and won his three belts. Their rematch was agreed in the days after the fight, but now, nearly four months later, it has still not been announced. Joshua himself has rejected any talk of taking the cash.

Usyk has said he will fight and beat anybody. He is not scared and is the easiest of the four to do a deal with. He has been mentioned repeatedly by Fury, who is about seven inches taller.

It’s an intriguing time of silence, a heavy pendulum is swinging and the tension is mounting.

There are, obviously, a lot of contradictory statements, comments and genuine quotes from all involved in the process about the legitimacy and morality of accepting step-aside money. It happens all the time, at all levels, but these guys – promoters and boxers – have left heavy footprints in the boxing sand with their words. Boxing can be a rough place to stake a stance, that’s for sure.

At the end of the day – or, at noon on Wednesday in Mauricio’s Mexico City tower – the truth will be revealed. And, please remember it is only about the money. If anybody takes the money and not a fight they had previously talked about, it’s business and not a betrayal of some ancient code; they are professional athletes, not part of a Yakuza clan.

Meanwhile, in an alternative boxing universe, Don King, who is 90, is promoting his latest so-called heavyweight title fight this Saturday in Ohio when Trevor Bryan defends his regular version of the WBA title against somebody called Jonathan Guidry. Hey, I’m only reporting the facts, which in the modern game are becoming increasingly difficult to uncover and even harder to distinguish from outright lies, inventions and verbal nonsense.

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