After weeks upon weeks of negotiations, teases, threats of cancellation, and countless other annoyances of boxing business, the heavyweight superfight that fans have wanted to see will soon happen.
WBA, WBO, and IBF champion Anthony Joshua will take on countryman and WBC champion Tyson Fury for the right to be called the undisputed king of the division. The fight will take place on August 14th in Saudi Arabia, who reportedly slapped down a $155 million site fee to host the event, per ESPN’s Mark Kriegel.
Fury published a video on social media saying he spoke with Prince Khalid Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who assured him that the fight is on. The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger later reported that a deal has indeed been reached, just in case you didn’t believe Tyson whatsoever.
Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) hasn’t fought since a knockout win over mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in December. Disaster famously struck in 2019 when he was knocked out by short notice replacement Andy Ruiz Jr in his US debut. He avenged his lone defeat with a comfortable win in the rematch, which took place in Saudi Arabia at a reported site fee of $60 million.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) has been inactive since his February 2020 knockout of Deontay Wilder in their highly anticipated rematch. The two fought to a draw in 2018 — Fury kept his undefeated record intact by miraculously surviving a 12th round knockdown — before Fury made a huge move to Top Rank/ESPN and had two warm-up fights of sorts to set up the second Wilder showdown.
A trilogy between Fury and Wilder was planned for the summer before the pandemic shut those plans down. Top Rank claimed the rematch clause enacted by Wilder had expired, and the case is currently in mediation with a ruling expected this week. That’s been one of the hold-ups for formally announce this fight but Fury’s video surely hints at what the ruling will be.
As for the situation for Joshua vs. Fury, the purse and revenue split will be 50-50, with the winner entitled to a 60-40 split of the money in the rematch. This site fee news makes the minimum purse for Joshua and Fury $75 million, with the remaining money earmarked for other things including the undercard.
On the broadcast side, ESPN+ will carry the pay-per-view in the United States, while Sky Box Office and BT Sport will both have pay-per-view coverage in the United Kingdom for the very first time. An official announcement is imminent and while your guess is as good as mine, ESPN’s big Jose Ramirez vs. Josh Taylor card on Saturday may very well produce the grand unveiling.
It is expected that the main event will be at approximately 5 PM ET/2 PM PT, or midnight in Saudi Arabia. Given that a summer in Saudi Arabia isn’t really the place to be for strenuous outdoor activity, it’s expected that a makeshift indoor arena will be constructed for what will be the single biggest and richest combat sports event of the year and one of the most lucrative in history.
And yes, it is very possible that this fight is happening in the same month as Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis II, aka Francis Ngannou vs. Not Jon Jones.