Tyson Fury has told Dillian Whyte to "step up and take your beating" after an extension was granted for the two fighters' camps to agree on the terms of a bout.

Fury and Whyte were permitted an additional 48 hours by the World Boxing Council (WBC) to negotiate their fight before purse bids are made.

The deadline had been 6pm on Wednesday but has now been pushed back two days, though the WBC confirmed that it would be the final extension.

A statement posted on the WBC's website said: "The World Boxing Council has received once again requests from the teams of Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte, to extend the period of free negotiations.

"The WBC has granted this final extension and If there is no agreement, a purse bid will be held this coming Friday, January 28."

Whyte is the mandatory challenger for Fury's WBC heavyweight title but is currently in arbitration with the governing body.

After the announcement of the extension, Fury took to Twitter to say: "Time to step up and take your beating."

Fury's camp had previously made it known they wanted Anthony Joshua to step aside from his planned rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after the latter's triumph in September, which would allow the WBC champion to go up against the Ukrainian in a unification bout.

The Telegraph reported that Joshua had agreed to forego the rematch for a fee of £15million, though the former world champion denied claims a deal had been struck.

In a video posted to his official social media channels on Tuesday, Fury made it clear that he had had enough of waiting, saying: "Tick tick tock. The time has run out of the bottle. You're all getting a good hiding – cowards."

Tyson Fury is running out of patience as the heavyweight champion waits to find out who his next opponent will be.

Fury's camp want Anthony Joshua to step aside from his planned rematch with Oleksandr Usyk after the latter's triumph in September.

That would allow Fury to go up against the Ukrainian in a heavyweight unification bout.

The Telegraph reported on Sunday that Joshua had agreed to forego the rematch and receive a £15million payout in return.

However, Joshua denied the claims a deal had been struck. Should nothing be agreed by Wednesday, then purse bids with Dillian Whyte – the WBC mandatory challenger – will go ahead, with that lined up as Fury's next fight instead.

In a video posted to his official social media channels on Tuesday, Fury, who defeated Deontay Wilder last year in the final fight of their trilogy contest, made it clear that he had had enough of waiting.

"Another gym session done, Tuesday morning smashed," the 33-year-old said.

"Tick tick tick effing tick tock is the subject of today. Is Dillian Whyte going to fight me? Is Anthony Joshua going to step aside?

"Let me know. Because I am sick of looking at these bums, sick of listening to their excuses.

"Tick tick tock. The time has run out of the bottle. You're all getting a good hiding – cowards."

Usyk, who is two years older than Fury, has won all 19 of his professional fights, including 13 knockouts.

Fury's record stands at 33 victories and one draw – the contentious first fight against Wilder in 2018.

Anthony Joshua insists he "ain't signed no contract" amid reports he has agreed to step aside for Tyson Fury to face Oleksandr Usyk in return for £15million. 

The alleged agreement was reported by The Telegraph on Sunday, claiming Joshua would forego a rematch with Usyk for the three heavyweight title belts he lost to the Ukrainian in September. 

Such a move would allow Usyk to instead take on Fury in a huge unification bout. 

Promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports he has a meeting planned with Joshua to discuss "a number of proposals and options", but the British fighter has dismissed talk of a £15m deal. 

Indeed, Joshua, describing himself as "the man who handles my business", also revealed frustrations at some of the reporting around his situation. 

In widely reported quotes, he said: "You know what's bad about all these interviews I see? 

"I see certain interviews that quote what I said, and I think to myself: 'I ain't done no interviews. Where did this person get this information from?' 

"I'm hearing people saying, 'AJ accepts £15m to step aside'. I ain't signed no contract, I ain't seen no contract. 

"I'm the man in control of my destiny, I'm a smart individual and I make calculated decisions every step of the way." 

Anthony Joshua has "a number of proposals" to consider amid reports he could step aside from a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in order for Tyson Fury to fight the Ukrainian.

Usyk outclassed Joshua at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last September to claim his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles.

The Brit activated a clause to step into the ring with Usyk for a second time, but The Daily Telegraph revealed he could step aside for a fee of £15million to pave the way for his compatriot Fury to do battle with the 35-year-old in a unification bout in the Middle East.

Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, revealed the 2012 Olympic champion has several options to mull over.

"I'm meeting with AJ and 258 management [on Tuesday] to go through plans for his next fight." he told Sky Sports.

"We have a number of proposals and options to discuss. The goal remains the same of course - to re-capture the world heavyweight crown."

Fury has not agreed a mandatory defence of his WBC strap with Dillian Whyte.

Usyk's promoter, Alexander Krassyuk, says it is up in the air over which Englishman will be his fighter's next opponent.

"We are in talks regarding the Fury fight since November," Krassyuk told Sky Sports.

"And though AJ gave his consent [reportedly] we still have not reached the final point in negotiations. And unless we get it - AJ rematch remains the basic option for us."

Tyson Fury urged UFC champion Francis Ngannou to "make some real money" by meeting him in the ring. 

Ngannou on Saturday defeated Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision to unify the UFC heavyweight division, a feat he achieved despite tearing his MCL in the build-up to the fight. 

The UFC 270 loss was the first of Gane's career, while Ngannou improved to 17-3 by extending his victorious streak to six fights. 

The Cameroonian is widely regarded as the hardest puncher in UFC and, with contract negotiations with the organisation dragging on due to a pay dispute, he has been heavily linked with a switch to boxing. 

WBC heavyweight champion Fury would relish the chance to take on Ngannou, suggesting it could put his financial concerns to bed. 

"Congratulations Francis Ngannou but if you want to make some real money, come see the Gypsy King," Fury posted on Twitter. 

Ngannou trained as a boxer in the early stages of his career in combat sports and expressed he remains keen to return to the discipline following his victory over Gane. 

"As I always say, boxing is always in the back of my pocket. It's something that I must do before the end of my career," he said. 

"And right now, I'm really looking towards any opportunity to get that because it's not like I had a lifetime here so I better start thinking about it." 

Anthony Joshua says he would consider stepping aside from his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk to allow the Ukrainian to fight Tyson Fury.

Joshua is set to fight Usyk for a second time in early 2022 after losing to the 34-year-old, who claimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts on a unanimous points decision at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

WBC Champion Tyson Fury, after defeating Deontay Wilder in the final bout of a gruelling trilogy, is waiting on a decision whether a title fight will be ordered with Dillian Whyte, who wants to be sanctioned as the mandatory challenger.

However, Fury's ambition is to fight Usyk in a battle to become the undisputed champion, leading to calls from the 'Gypsy King' for his fellow Englishman Joshua to step aside.

For the first time a Fury-Usyk bout seems a possibility, with Joshua conceding he would consider skipping the sequel temporarily for both respect in boxing and financial gain.

"I think people know not to approach me with that rubbish," Joshua told IFL TV when asked if he had been offered a deal to skip the rematch. "That is bulls***. It may have come to my team, but they know not to bring that to me.

"Let me be real, it's not about the money, it's about the respect. What I want out of this game, number one is respect. You don't have to like me, but you will respect me. 

"Second thing is to go down as a throwback fighter, somebody who was willing to fight the best in their division so people know me as a true fighter.

"In terms of [stepping] aside, I don't know if that goes in line with what I morally stand for. But let me be real, I want to be known as one of the smartest businessmen as well.

"I used to watch Tyson, Holyfield, Bowe, we all know the stories of NFL players, basketball players, they make bad decisions. I wanted to make sure I make the smart moves when it comes to this business. If the money is right, you have to look at it.

"You have to look at it. But respect to me has a lot more value than money. Respect first, what I'm known for when I leave this division, then being the smartest businessman in my career. 

"That step aside thing, it may not go with what I stand for in terms of bringing me respect, fighting the best, but it may make sense for business."

Ricky Hatton has urged Tyson Fury to forget about a potential fight with Anthony Joshua and retire from the sport immediately.

Fury ended a thrilling trilogy against Deontay Wilder this month as he dropped the American in the 11th round in an all-time classic in Las Vegas.

The potential of an all-British showdown was on the cards next for the 'Gypsy King', however, those plans were put on hold when Joshua lost his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua's manager Eddie Hearn confirmed there would be a subsequent rematch between the 32-year-old and the Ukrainian, set for early 2022 – further delaying a potential bout for Fury with either of the pair.

Meanwhile, Fury is likely to face Dillian Whyte – who pulled out of a clash with Otto Wallin in October – before meeting with the winner of the rematch between Joshua and Usyk.

However, former boxer Hatton has advised Fury to hang up his gloves as he implores the 33-year-old to stop waiting for Joshua.

"Tyson's proved himself," Hatton told Sportsmail. "He's had that trilogy with Wilder, he beat Wladimir Klitschko.

"Tyson's not like AJ; he's suffered from depression, drinks and drugs and all he now wants is the defining fights and to get out the game.

"Let's have it right, if Tyson wants to retire he's got nothing more to prove. The only thing that Tyson wants to know in his own mind, just like AJ does, is who the best out of he and AJ is.

"But Tyson can't wait another two years while he fights him and he fights him, he'll want to be in and out now.

"It's a shame if the AJ fight doesn't happen, and if it does it has to happen quickly, because Tyson's ready for hanging up his gloves now.

"As his friend, I want him to hang them up – he's got nothing left to prove."

Fury's promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum had implored Joshua to step down to allow for an undisputed match-up between the division's top two, though Hearn quickly dismissed those claims.

Hatton, who retired in 2011 at the age of 32, agrees with Warren and Arum's plan while bemoaning that the two top fighters cannot face off yet.

"There's only one fight on Tyson's mind, which is the AJ fight," he continued. "But if I could rule boxing, I would let Tyson fight Usyk, because at the end of the day they’re the top two. I'd let AJ have a warm-up fight and then fight the winner.

"But this is what's ruining boxing: it should be Tyson, you fight your fight and AJ you fight yours and the winner will box each other.

"But no, you've then got to give a rematch, maybe even two rematches.

"It's ruining the game. Wilder should never have got a third fight; if he'd put in a fantastic performance in the second, then he gets the rematch. It should be based on performance.

"It puts the main fights we want on the back burner, just because of contract issues. It's a nonsense.

"All it needs, especially in heavyweight boxing, is one punch, one decision to change things and then fights won't get made for another three years."

Anthony Joshua says he would welcome Tyson Fury's offer to help him train for his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk next spring.

Fury recently told Fox Sports Australia that Joshua would "definitely" beat Usyk with his assistance, going so far as to guarantee a win. 

Speaking with IFL TV, Joshua invited his longtime rival to come to his camp and even get in the ring with him, as long as he was willing to work for free. 

"He's more than welcome to come through the door," Joshua said. "He can even spar with me as well. I need a coach that's lived it, breathed it, so it would be perfect. That'd be the easiest way to get him in the ring."

The two British heavyweights have yet to square off after their agreement on a two-fight deal last summer fell by the wayside after both were obligated to fight different opponents first. 

While Fury completed his trilogy against Deontay Wilder with a win earlier this month, Joshua was upset by Usyk in September, prompting a rematch against the Ukrainian in 2022. 

Joshua's banter around Fury's offer had a tongue-in-cheek quality to it, but he did strike a nostalgic note in looking back on the sport's glory days. 

"I see pictures with Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Archie Moore, Muhammad Ali all sitting together," Joshua said. "They'll be in each other's training camps. ... Mate, come into my training camp. Come and see what the heavyweight champion gets up to. It's great. 

"Heavyweight boxing is thriving. So for me, Tyson can come and watch me train, 100 per cent. Sparring ain't fighting, is it? Do you know what I mean?

"So he can definitely come in, he's more than welcome to step into the gym and give me some tips. I ain't fighting him next anyway, so he ain't got nothing to worry about."

Deontay Wilder has congratulated Tyson Fury for winning their trilogy fight, having declined to do so in the immediate aftermath of the bout in Las Vegas.

The WBC champion defended his belt and maintained his unbeaten record (31-0-1) with a devastating 11th-round knockout of Wilder (42-2-1) in a classic slugfest.

The American left the ring soon after the fight was over and, according to Fury, refused to show any respect before departing.

"I'm a sportsman; I went over to show some love and respect and he didn't want to show it back," Fury said. "I'll pray for him so God will soften his heart."

"I said, 'Well done'. And he said, 'I don't wanna show any sportsmanship or respect.' I said, 'No problem'."

"Very surprised [by] that," Fury added. "Sore loser, an idiot. Do you know what? To be a top fighting man, you've got to show guts and respect and he couldn't do it tonight. And that's it."

However, Wilder appears to have had a change of heart, using a post on his official Instagram account to congratulate his opponent after an epic trilogy came to an end.

"Wow, what a hell of a night! I would like to first and foremost thank God for allowing me to give the world another part of me that's driven with passion and determination," Wilder wrote.

"I would like to thank my team and my fans for sticking by my side through this long process. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed in the outcome but after reflecting on my journey, I now see that what God wanted me to experience is far greater than what I expected to happen.

"We didn't get the win but a wise man once said the victories are within the lessons. I've learned that sometimes you have to lose to win. Although, I wanted the win I enjoyed seeing the fans win even more.

"Hopefully, I proved that I am a true Warrior and a true King in this sport. Hopefully, WE proved that no matter how hard you get hit with trials and tribulations you can always pick yourself up to live and fight again for what you believe in.

"Last but not least I would like to congratulate [Tyson Fury] for his victory and thank you for the great historical memories that will last forever."

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

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 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. 

 

 

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."

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have signed a two-fight deal to face each other for the undisputed heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn has announced.

British rivals Joshua and Fury have been in negotiations for several months to agree showdowns for the four major belts in boxing's glamour division.

Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, having successfully defended his title with a ninth-round stoppage of Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sensationally dethroned Deontay Wilder to claim the WBC crown in February last year but has not boxed since.

A date and venue for the initial encounter are yet to be confirmed, although Hearn – who promotes Joshua under his Matchroom Sport banner – told ESPN on Monday that both parties put pen to paper over the weekend.

"We'd like to get a site deal confirmed in the next month," Hearn said.

"The hard part is always getting everybody to put pen to paper. But this was a major effort from all parties to get this over the line.

"You had rival promoters, rival networks and rival fighters."

The hurdles to overcome in getting to this point were not inconsiderable, with Fury working under a co-promotional deal with Frank Warren and Bob Arum's Top Rank, both of whom have rival broadcasting agreements to Hearn's contracts with Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN globally.

Fury's most recent bouts have been aired by BT Sport in his homeland and via ESPN in the United States.

The expectation of ongoing coronavirus restrictions makes the prospect of at least the first fight taking place on British soil feel far-fetched, with a return of heavyweight title boxing to the Middle East – where Joshua avenged his only career defeat against Andy Ruiz Jr with a December 2019 points win in Saudi Arabia – appearing most likely.

"I actually feel we've done the hard part," Hearn said. "Speaking for myself, Anthony and his team at 258 management, I know how hard we've worked hard these last couple of months and I just feel that this fight is so big it's not a difficult sell.

"We've already had approaches from eight or nine sites. The offers have come from multiple countries in the Middle East, from Asia, eastern Europe and America.

"This is the biggest fight in boxing and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It will be a major, major win for a country that wants to showcase itself."

Some typically idiosyncratic interviews from Fury over recent days, where he stated he had no interest in boxing in the UK again, while claiming to have stopped training in favour of "concentrating on getting me 10 pints of Stella", appeared to cast some doubt upon the Joshua fights getting over the line – especially considering the 32-year-old's previously well-documented struggles with alcohol and depression.

"You never really know with Tyson," Hearn said. "It could be mind games. He could be having a bad day. He could be a little p***** off. Or he could be having a joke.

"One of the fascinations about this fight will be the build-up because they're two totally different characters, two totally different personalities. The mind games will be on another level for this fight. Tyson is very good at that.

"Anthony is excited by that. He's so pumped, so focused, he hasn't stopped training since the Pulev fight. He's like a caged lion. The build-up is going to be epic."

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