Eddie Hearn has admitted what British boxing fans have been fearing for the last couple of weeks: the chances of the huge heavyweight clash between WBA, WBO and IBF champion Anthony Joshua and WBC titleholder Tyson Fury is unlikely to take place in the U.K. this year.
The two are likely to sign up for their first meeting later in 2021, with Hearn recently expressing optimism in a late May/early June date. But while basic financial terms have long been agreed and both fighters seem to want the showdown next, a venue has yet to be arranged.
With Britain still struggling to cope with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not look likely that 80,000 to 90,000 fight fans will be able to pack a stadium such as London's Wembley or the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in time for the summer.
And with all of the costs the bout is set to rack up — particularly with mandatory WBO challenger Olseksandr Usyk likely to require compensation if he is to agree to wait his turn — a lucrative site fee from a venue such as Saudi Arabia seems probable.
Joshua regained his titles from Andy Ruiz Jr. in Riyadh in December 2019, but also in the running are venues in the United States, where Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Ryan Garcia have recently fought in front of crowds in Texas.
A report by the Daily Mail also suggests Saudi Arabia and the USA will face competition from China, Dubai and Qatar, but that Singapore has also emerged as an unlikely front-runner.
Hearn told IFL TV they are going everything they can to get the best situation possible for the fight.
“A lot of the travelling I’ve been doing lately is to look at where that fight can be staged as well," he said. “We have an agreement [on the financial terms] that was agreed a long time ago and nothing’s changed.
“There have been meetings taking place on where this fight can be held. There’s various countries. I’ve visited a few of them in the last few weeks and days and I think we’re in a good position.
"There’s some wacky stuff. There’s some stuff you’d expect. I know everyone wants it in the UK but at the moment they’re not even allowing boxing. [It’s] unlikely.”
With Joshua recently confirming that both he and Fury's teams have agreed to a 50-50 split for their fight, and reports suggesting both heavyweights will have a rematch clause with a 60-40 split in favour of the winner of their first meeting, it appears British fans' best hopes of witnessing the two go at it live is if that rematch happens at Wembley or in Cardiff.