Tyson Fury’s next move finally appears set with reports he will fight fellow Brit Dillian Whyte after a deal for Anthony Joshua to step from his world heavyweight title re-match with Oleksandr Usyk collapsed.
Fury has been eyeing off a unification bout Ukrainian Usyk, who is contracted for a rematch with Joshua after winning their bout last year.
ESPN reported on Friday there was an an agreement in principle for both Whyte and Joshua to forego planned bouts with Fury and Usyk, respectively, in exchange for millions of dollars, but the deal “fell apart after parties attempted to renegotiate at the 11th hour”.
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Earlier this week Joshua denied reports he had agreed a £15 million ($A28 million) deal to step aside. Fury suggested the former Olympic gold medalist had squandered even more as he declared Joshua and his manager “the worst two damn businessmen in history” in a video posted to social media.
In the biggest sign yet the Fury-Whyte fight is locked in, Fury posted a promotional posted on social media with an accompanying warning to his rival, who has a 28-2 professional record.
“Who else can’t wait for the fight? The best of Britain,” Fury wrote.
“I’ll give him the best hiding he’s ever had.
“Whyte, train hard! Because you are getting annihilated.”
According to ESPN, the proposed deal would have paved the way for Fury to fight Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship in June in Saudi Arabia, with a $US155 million site fee in play — money of which would have gone to both Whyte and Joshua.
The rights to the Fury-Whyte fight are set to be auctioned off at Friday’s purse bid.
Usyk gave a boxing masterclass in recording a unanimous points victory to deprive Joshua of his World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) belts in front of the dethroned champion’s home crowd at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.
By extending his unbeaten professional record, Usyk also delayed the prospects of an all-British unification bout between Joshua and Fury.
In October, Fury defeated Deontay Wilder to retain his World Boxing Council belt.
The WBC have since said Fury must face mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte in his next title defence, although boxing history indicates that such objections need not get in the way of a bout with Usyk instead if the financial terms are agreeable to all concerned.
Joshua, who has a rematch clause in his contract with Usyk, said: “I’m a smart individual and I make calculated decisions every step of the way…If I tell you something then you know it’s real.”