Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury until April 1 to agree to a heavyweight unification bout, the World Boxing Association (WBA) has said.

The pair are seeking to come to terms on a fight that would crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.

Though discussions have appeared close to producing a resolution on several occasions, changes in demands from both camps have prolonged the process.

With time running out to meet the provisional April 29 fight date pencilled in for Wembley Stadium, the WBA has now issued a final deadline.

"March 10 was the deadline for the initial negotiations granted by the WBA," a WBA statement read.

"After the WBA announced the situation, Usyk and Fury’s teams contacted each other to inform that the pact was on its way and that the fight was going to take place.

"Now, the WBA has given them this new deadline that expires on April 1 and hopes that the fight can take place, since it is what the fans are asking for and what the whole boxing world is waiting for."

The WBA has held off on issuing Usyk with a mandatory fight against Daniel Dubois. Usyk holds the 'super' champion belt while Dubois is the 'regular' champion.

Usyk and Fury's potential fight has dominated the sport across the first few months of 2023, with the pair trading barbs as they seek to hammer out a deal.

The Ukrainian last fought in August, when he defended his titles against Anthony Joshua in their rematch, while Briton Fury completed his trilogy with Derek Chisora in December, winning with a 10th-round knockout.

Joe Joyce is ready to step in and face either Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk if the pair cannot settle on the terms of their heavyweight unification bout.

Fury, the WBC title-holder, and Usyk, who possesses the WBO, WBA (Super) and IBF crowns, have been seeking to agree terms for a fight on April 29.

Negotiations have stalled on multiple occasions however, while the pair have sparred verbally throughout, though it appears Fury will now take a 70-30 purse split.

WBO interim heavyweight champion Joyce, who is arguably the strongest mandatory challenger to either man, would be happy to square off if a deal falls through, though he would prefer to face an ultimate winner.

"It's [been] kind of dragging on a bit," he told Sky Sports' Toe2Toe podcast. "Fury's got 70 per cent [so] I guess it's happening now.

"He's started camp, [and] I would imagine Usyk's already in camp. Maybe he knows something we don't. Possibly, [I could fight one of them]. I guess it's a good back-up plan."

Reiterating he would prefer to wait though, the Briton added: "That would be something, wouldn't it? There's been a lot of rematch clauses of late. They drag on, don't they?

"It's quite refreshing to hear that there isn't one for this fight. I can jump in afterwards [and] fight the winner. I'm confident in my abilities and I think it would be a great fight against either of them."

On a preferred opponent, Joyce admitted an all-British clash thrilled him, adding: "I really like the sound of the Fury fight. Can you imagine? Undisputed has a nice ring to it."

Tyson Fury's potential heavyweight unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk could be in doubt after the Gypsy King turned down a 60-40 purse split, according to the Ukrainian's promoter Alex Krassyuk.

The duo's teams are in discussions for an undisputed clash, and negotiations seemed to be nearing a conclusion earlier this week.

Fury's promoter Frank Warren revealed both camps were looking to set a date and venue for the bout, while Usyk himself said both men "need this fight".

But Krassyuk has now claimed Fury's camp have turned down an increased offer for a 60-40 split favouring the fight's winner, having also reportedly pushed against an even 50-50 purse.

"Frank Warren said he's got a pot and he needs to get the agreement of both parties to participate," Krassyuk told talkSPORT.

"If the money in the pot is not enough, it won't happen. I completely agree with it. On our side, I have nothing more to add.

"We have said that we want this fight to happen as much as possible, and we are in the position to share whatever the fight generates.

"But boxing is a sport of two men and if only Usyk gets into the ring, there won't be a match for undisputed. It will be shadowboxing of the unified champion.

"We initially agreed for 50-50. But then Tyson was asking for some bigger money. We made it clear that we are ready to go 60-40, but the winner takes 60.

"That was our latest offer [but Fury turned it down], exactly."

Warren previously indicated there would be no negotiations beyond the end of this week, with both parties reportedly eyeing up an April 29 bout at Wembley Stadium.

"We're still none the wiser, we're still waiting for it to be done," Warren said. "It's all coming to a head now, but it's still not done.

"You need the agreement of both boxers to make it happen and at the moment we haven't got that, so that's where we're at.

"We're working hard to make it happen. But I would say it's not going to go past the end of this week because the proposed date is April 29."

Oleksandr Usyk believes both he and Tyson Fury "need this fight" as the duo inch closer to a blockbuster heavyweight unification bout.

The Ukrainian retained his WBA (super-heavyweight), IBF and WBO belts against Anthony Joshua last August in Jeddah, while Fury completed his trilogy with Derek Chisora in December.

A likely deal to bring the pair together – and therefore all four titles, including Fury's WBC crown – looks to be growing closer to fruition.

Speaking about a potential bout, Usyk acknowledged any encounter would come freighted with history, though he stressed it would be no different from any other fight he has had.

"I just need this fight and that's it," he told The Overlap. "I think he needs it too. This fight is very important for both of us because all four belts haven't been held by one person for 30 years in the heavyweight division.

"So, both of us need this fight. This will be like any other fight. It's just a big man who has never lost before against a man who has the WBC belt.

"Of course, it's possible to get carried away but actually, this is a normal fight for the right to win all belts."

With a half-foot height advantage over Usyk and a longer reach to boot, Fury in theory has the upper hand in any match on a purely statistical level.

The Ukrainian has continued to confound critics since making the move up from cruiserweight though, and does not see any physical disadvantage against his rival. 

"If a person is bigger than me, it doesn't mean that they're stronger," he added. "If they have longer arms, it doesn't mean that it will be an advantage.

"I've been boxing since I was 15 years old. During this time, I've heard many opinions from people that I know well or from people who I've met just once. They kept telling me that I shouldn't be boxing.

"They told me that I wouldn't become an Olympic champion or a world champion and that I shouldn't have switched to the heavyweight division.

"But these were opinions from people who couldn't do it themselves. Personally, I keep praying and moving forward.

"I don't worry about whether I will reach my destination. It's like a samurai. He doesn't have an aim, but he has his path. I have my path too."

Anthony Joshua's biggest motivation is now money as he prepares to revive his career when taking on Jermaine Franklin.

Two-time world heavyweight champion Joshua faces Franklin at London's O2 Arena on April 1 looking to bounce back from successive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

Franklin was beaten by Dillian Whyte in his most recent fight in November, that being the American's only defeat in 22 professional bouts.

Joshua is now determined to battle his way back to the top of the heavyweight division, starting with victory over Franklin in his homeland.

Asked at a press conference on Thursday what his biggest motivation is for taking on the fight, Joshua said: "Money, money, money. I like making money, straight up.

"I've been broke, my family's been broke, I know what this s*** means. I always built businesses outside of boxing, out of fear of going back to square one.

"But when I'm said and done, no one will care about me anymore, so I'll make the most of it while I'm here.

"My own expectations are my pressure, but pressure is being broke, worrying about your bills. 

"Look what's happening in Syria, Turkey – the earthquake that just happened. Me going to fight is a blessing, no pressure."

Joshua lost the WBA, IBF and WBO belts with his defeat to Usyk in September 2021 and failed to win them back when they met again in Jeddah last August.

Having won each of his first 22 professional bouts, all but one of those by knockout, Joshua has now lost three of his past five fights since June 2019.

However, the Briton insists the pain of losing to Andy Ruiz Jr and twice to Usyk is motivating him to put even more into his boxing between now and retirement.

"I still feel really fresh and young," he said. "I made a conscious decision last year to put my heart into boxing and nothing else. 

"It's not just the mind, where your head's at, it's your heart.

"Throughout my career, this is probably the most serious I've taken it. Everything I've been through – positive, negative – I'm using it to fuel my camp now."

Franklin has a 21-1 record following his defeat to Whyte, with 14 of his previous victories coming by way of knockout.

It will be Joshua's first fight with coach Derrick James in his corner, with the 33-year-old spending time in the United States training in preparation for his return to action.

"The world hasn't seen the best of Anthony Joshua," James said. "He's a great fighter. Great athleticism, great foot movement, very intellectual first and foremost. 

"He understands this sport and understands what I'm asking him to do."

Anthony Joshua will face Jermaine Franklin to prepare for further bouts against orthodox fighters, with Eddie Hearn wanting him to move away from southpaws.

The Briton will face the American at The O2 in London on April 1 in his first fight since falling to a second consecutive defeat against Oleksandr Usyk.

The two-time world champion is looking to build his form back up after his pair of stinging losses against the Ukrainian, with the 29-year-old Franklin his first test.

In part, the latter has been chosen to offer a taste of orthodox fights for Joshua, with Hearn hoping for future bouts against Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte and Tyson Fury to follow.

"Really, it came down to the style," Hearn told Matchroom.

"I think AJ's coming off the back of two fights against a southpaw, the best southpaw in boxing, in Oleksandr Usyk, and wanted an orthodox fighter.

"The training team really sort of looked at it and said [that] if we're gonna go and fight [Deontay] Wilder, Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury, there's no point in us going back and fighting a southpaw."

Franklin has 21 wins from 22 professional fights, with his only loss coming against Whyte in November last year.

Joshua had just one career loss before he faced off with Usyk originally in September 2021, losing his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles in the process.

He then failed to claim revenge in the rematch in August in Jeddah, dropping him to a 24-3 professional record.

Anthony Joshua's next fight has been confirmed for April 1 against Jermaine Franklin at The O2 in London.

Two-time world heavyweight champion Joshua will attempt to get his career back on track with a victory over Franklin in his homeland following back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

Usyk claimed the WBA, IBF and WBO belts by beating the Briton in September 2021 and retained them with victory in the rematch in Jeddah last August.

Franklin was beaten by Dillian White in his last fight last November, that being the American's only defeat in 22 professional bouts.

Joshua is eager to impress his new head trainer Derrick James in what will be his first fight at The O2 since 2016.

"I'm looking forward to stepping back into the ring on April 1 at The O2 in London," said the 33-year-old Joshua. "Mentally and physically I feel ready.

"I want to put on a show and impress my coach as he has high standards. Franklin has a good style and a great attitude, which he has shown in recent fights."

Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, last week stated that he expects the 2012 Olympic champion to make a statement when he faces Franklin but knows "we've got a major problem" if he is beaten again.

Franklin warned he will inflict more pain on Joshua in his homeland.

"I'm ready to show the world why it's time for me to take my place at the top of the heavyweight division," said Franklin.

"Joshua had his time. It's my time to shock the world. This fight isn't going to the judge's card. I will have win number 22 come April 1. That ain't no April Fool's joke."

Anthony Joshua will make a "statement" when he returns to the ring against Jermaine Franklin in April knowing he has a "major problem" if he suffers another defeat.

So says the two-time world heavyweight champion's promoter, Eddie Hearn, who revealed Joshua is set to fight American Franklin at the O2 Arena in London on April 1.

The Briton is on a mission to reignite his career after losing his WBA, IBF and WBO belts to Oleksandr Usyk in September 2021 and failing to regain them in a rematch in Jeddah last August.

Official confirmation is expected next week for Franklin to be Joshua's next opponent, and Hearn expects the 33-year-old to put on a show.

He told BBC Sport: "It's a really tough fight with loads of pressure to come back, because if AJ doesn't win this fight, then we've got a major problem.

"I believe you'll see a statement from a guy who is very dangerous, very motivated to become a three-time heavyweight world champion."

Franklin was beaten by Dillian White in his last fight in November, and Hearn expects him to suffer another loss on his return to England.

Hearn added: "There's so much contradiction: 'Anthony Joshua is finished, mentally he's shot. But he'll knock out Jermaine Franklin inside three rounds.'

"The same people that say Jermaine Franklin beat Dillian Whyte, but he's a terrible opponent for Anthony Joshua in a comeback fight after two defeats to the pound-for-pound number one.

"What this guy has done from a resume perspective is unbelievable. And I'm telling you now, this guy [is] still top-three heavyweight, capable of regaining his heavyweight world title."

Tyson Fury is eagerly awaiting his return to the ring as an undisputed heavyweight clash with Oleksandr Usyk edges closer.

Victory for Fury against Derek Chisora in December opened the door for the British boxer and Ukrainian star Usyk to finally go head to head.

While yet to be officially confirmed, it is widely expected a bout will be scheduled in the coming months, though Fury could offer no further updates on the matter when he spoke on Saturday, saying he was in the same boat as his fans.

"I'm fantastic. I've had a good Christmas and New Year. I've been training, and we're just waiting on an announcement," Fury told Sky Sports.

"I'm in limbo like the rest of the world. I'm not interested in who, what, where or when. I just want to fight and that's it."

Earlier on Saturday, Fury's co-promoter Bob Arum announced he expects a venue for the undisputed clash to be decided in the next week.

"I think both of the fighters have agreed to the fight, I think the question is where the site will be," Arum said. "That will be sorted out hopefully next week and we'll have an announcement shortly.

"If the fight goes to the Middle East it will be sometime after Ramadan, and if the fight is in the UK it will be the beginning of April."

Before the Gypsy King returns to the ring, half-brother Tommy Fury will face off against Jake Paul next month in Saudi Arabia in a fierce grudge match.

While Paul splits opinion, and his move to boxing from the social media world has drawn plenty of criticism, Tyson Fury warned his younger sibling that he will face a capable opponent.

"I think he's a decent boxer. A lot of people think he's just a YouTube person who doesn't know how to box, but I've actually seen him training and I've actually seen his fights and I think he's decent," Tyson Fury said.

"He's like a novice professional. He's only had six fights so he's exactly as good as he should be at this stage. He's not an Olympic boxer, but then again neither am I."

Anthony Joshua is close to reaching an agreement to face Jermaine Franklin in his next bout in April, according to the American's promoter.

Joshua has not fought since failing to reclaim the WBA-Super heavyweight, IBF and WBO belts from Oleksandr Usyk last August, having first surrendered the titles to the Ukrainian in September 2021.

The 33-year-old, who has lost three of his last five fights after going unbeaten through his first 22 as a professional, has reportedly held talks with both Demsey McKean and Otto Wallin in recent weeks.

However, Franklin appears to have emerged as the favoured candidate for Joshua's next outing, which promoter Dmitriy Salita expects to take place at London's O2 Arena on April 1.

"Jermaine is a world-class heavyweight from Michigan in America, who is on his way to bringing a big win back home," Salita told Sky Sports.

"We hope to get the deal over the finish line to help Jermaine bring his lifetime dream to fruition."

Franklin made his first appearance on British soil in November, earning plaudits for his performance in a majority decision loss to Dillian Whyte, the first defeat of his professional career.

Tyson Fury has challenged Francis Ngannou to "kick it up spicy in a cage" in a boxing fight refereed by Mike Tyson.

WBC world heavyweight champion Fury's team are trying to agree terms for an eagerly awaited unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk.

Fury revealed his return to the ring is "imminent" and a March date has provisionally been pencilled in for the Brit to do battle with Ukrainian Usyk.

Ngannou is set to pursue a boxing career after turning down a contract that would have made him the highest-paid heavyweight fighter in UFC history.

Fury and Ngannou have called each other out in the past and the 'Gypsy King' has laid down another challenge to the Cameroonian-French fighter.

He said in an interview with Seconds Out: "Francis Ngannou, I know you're out contract with the UFC.

"You want to earn some big boy money come see the 'Gypsy King' and let's do a big, big fight for the baddest M.F. on the planet.

"Let's kick it up spicy in a cage, four-ounce gloves, on the Queensberry, and let's have a badass referee like 'Iron' Mike Tyson. Did I just sell that to the world?"

He added: "If the contract doesn't get signed with Usyk next, the fight of the century in boxing, we'll do the Ngannou fight. Whether it's going to be in Las Vegas or Wembley, who will know. We'll know quite soon, I think."

Australian heavyweight Demsey McKean claimed he could "retire" Anthony Joshua after confirming talks with the "biggest name in boxing".

Joshua has not triumphed in the ring since June 2020 when he defeated Kubrat Pulev, having since lost back-to-back world title fights with Oleksandr Usyk.

Tyson Fury looked set to be the opponent for Joshua before negotiations broke down, with the WBC champion turning his attention to a potential 2023 bout with Usyk.

Southpaw McKean has 14 knockouts on his unblemished 22-0 record and he fancies his chances against Brit Joshua, who is aiming to bounce back from the Usyk setbacks.

"We are one of the frontrunners for a possible opponent for Anthony Joshua," 32-year-old McKean told Sky Sports.

"I could be the man to retire Joshua and I am very confident I can do that. But don't get me wrong, there are still more fights for AJ. If he loses to me, a top-10 heavyweight as well, that shouldn't be the end.

"People probably don't give him the credit he deserves, what he has done for the heavyweight game. He has brought a lot of eyes and money into the heavyweight division.

"He is probably the biggest name in boxing, everyone is after him, including me. It is the name to have on your resume.

"There are still fights to be made and people are still going to pay to watch those fights. But three losses in a row, does he need to keep doing this, he is well set up now?

"He probably still has his doubts, he still doubts himself a lot, I know that. But who wouldn't when they are at the top, in the limelight and cop a lot of criticism.

"There are a lot of factors but I have the skills to do that [retire him] for sure."

McKean and Joshua are no strangers after the pair sparred in the build-up to the latter's first bout with Usyk, which saw him lose his WBA, IBF and WBO belts.

Queenslander McKean delivered a brutal third-round knockout of Patrick Korte in his last outing on October 15 and thinks he deserves a shot at a big-name fighter.

"I feel confident if that fight goes through," he said. "The only doubt I have is that he doesn't want to fight a southpaw.

"It would be a shame. I have been on the brink of some very big fights myself. I have come close to fighting Dillian Whyte as well. I think it is sad that some of the elite boxers in the world pick and choose who they fight. We would not have had this back in the old days.

"The world has gone mad, and all these so-called champion boxers don't want to fight a southpaw. Let's hope he [Joshua mans up] and fights this time.

"I have been sparing with him for years, I have been in his camp twice. He knows it is going to be a hard fight, by the rounds I give these guys.

"He is a smooth operator, there aren't too many who move like him. His size is an advantage and disadvantage for him."

Eddie Hearn expects to see a "reinvigorated" Anthony Joshua this year after taking on a new trainer.

The former heavyweight champion has not fought since suffering defeat in a rematch against Oleksandr Usyk in August, which left the 2012 Olympic gold medallist with three defeats in his past five bouts.

With a clash against Tyson Fury not materialising, Joshua is on the hunt for an opponent for a targeted date of April 1 and will partner with a new trainer for the next stage in his career.

The 33-year-old parted ways with long-term trainer Rob McCracken following the first defeat to Usyk, taking on Robert Garcia for the rematch, and will now undergo a training camp in the United States ahead of his return to the ring.

Though still yet to be announced, Derrick James is reported to be the man Joshua has taken on as trainer, and Hearn believes a change from his usual surroundings in England is the right move.

"April 1 is our targeted date in London. I'll go through the final list of opponents. We're almost ready. He's excited," Hearn told DAZN.

"I'm happy with the trainer. I'm happy with anyone who makes AJ feel comfortable, motivated, and excited. I think this is going to be a nice break.

"The problem is being in the UK, he can't breathe. When he goes to America, people know who he is, but it's like a different world.

"I think it's going to be really good for him. I think you're going to see a reinvigorated Anthony Joshua."

Tyson Fury's camp have sent a draft contract to Oleksandr Usyk and his team to sign, with co-promoter Frank Warren reaffirming plans for a March bout.

The Briton and the Ukrainian look set to hold an undisputed world heavyweight title fight in two months, with apparent progress between both parties on an agreement.

Usyk defended his WBA-Super heavyweight, IBF, and WBO belts against Anthony Joshua in August last year, while Fury completed a trilogy bout with Derek Chisora in December.

Now, Warren reveals the papers are in the hands of Usyk and his entourage, with the promoter hopeful a deal can be struck soon.

"We've sent them a draft contract, that's where we're at," he told talkSPORT Fight Night. "It's got to be sorted out very quickly because time is against us."

No location has been agreed on yet for any fight, with Fury able to command huge audiences in his native United Kingdom and Usyk having enjoyed a major Saudi Arabia payday.

Warren stressed no call had been made, simply adding: "[It will be] wherever the most money comes from.

"Nothing is in place from anywhere outside the UK. We know what it can generate in the UK, but if it goes elsewhere, then that depends on what the numbers are.

"I know a lot of people complain about it, and I agree it should be at Wembley. I'd love to see it there.

"But Muhammad Ali and George Foreman went and fought in Zaire, then you had the Thrilla in Manila, you had the big fights in Jamaica.

"They went where the money was, and these guys will do the same thing."

Oleksandr Usyk's promoter has revealed the Ukrainian's team are "on our way" to finalising a deal for a blockbuster heavyweight unification fight with Tyson Fury.

WBA-Super, IBF, WBO and IBO champion Usyk and Fury are expected to do battle early in 2023.

Bob Arum, who promotes WBC champion Fury, recently stated an agreement has been reached for the Brit to step into the ring with Usyk next year, with a date and a venue to be settled upon.

Usyk's promoter Alex Krassyuk does not envisage any stumbling blocks.

He told Sky Sports: "Probably yes [the contracts have been issued], but we have not received them yet,"

Krassyuk added: "Yes, we are on our way."

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman is relishing the prospect of seeing Fury and Usyk going toe-to-toe.


He told Sky Sports: "That's a fight that the WBC has promoted and has fought for since several years when [Deontay] Wilder was champion and [Anthony] Joshua was a champion.

"We put all the flexibility and possibility of the WBC to participate in doing so. Now if Usyk comes into place and Fury fights him that would be a tremendous happening for the world."

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