Anthony Joshua is close to accepting a £15 million step-aside fee that would pave the way for Oleksander Usky to fight Tyson Fury in an undisputed heavyweight title bout in the Middle East.
Joshua had been due a rematch with Usky for his three world title belts, which he lost to the Ukrainian in London last year.
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But the former Olympic champion is now open to accepting a deal to step aside after a weekend of protracted talks among boxing’s movers and shakers delivered hopes of a breakthrough. The Principality Stadium in Cardiff has also been reserved for Fury to fight on March 26.
Described as “chaos” and “a mess” by Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum, nothing official has come from Joshua’s management team – nor indeed has the Londoner announced his new training team after visits to several renowned American gyms – but his promoter Eddie Hearn last week suggested that boxing fans could “expect the unexpected” in the coming week as the situation is resolved for the spring.
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If Joshua accepts the financial step-aside deal, rather than go ahead with his rematch, it would almost certainly be expected that the Londoner would face the Fury-Usyk winner.
There has been little clarity over the next round of heavyweight superfights with purse bids for Fury’s WBC defence against Dillian Whyte, the mandatory challenger, delayed three times, most recently to Jan 26. Arum and Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter in the UK, maintain they are sticking to the 80/20 purse split mandated by the WBC following Fury’s victory over Deontay Wilder.
Warren dropped the biggest hint yet that matters could be resolved this week. “It’s a saga but if we can keep things between us, we can get something over the line one way or another,” he said.
“Everybody in boxing wants to see the undisputed fight between Tyson and Usyk, I want to see it just as a fan. So that is the fight we are trying to make.”
Arum on Sunday said that he was unable to comment, yet if Whyte’s team aims to go ahead and claim the right to fight Fury and accept the 80/20 purse split, it ought to come to a head on Wednesday evening at the rescheduled purse bid for Fury-Whyte.
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