Fury (30-0-1) is supposed to face Dillian Whyte (27-1), the mandatory contender for his hallowed green WBC belt, by the end of February 2021. This if he can retain his title after a trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder (42-1-1) later this year.
Fight fans have been left fearing that the politics boxing so often becomes mired in will at best delay or at worst scupper the biggest fight in British boxing history. Fury and Joshua remember have already ‘agreed in principle’ the financial structure for a two-fight deal – a 50-50 split for the first fight with the winner taking a 60-40 lion’s share in the rematch.
The 88-year-old Hall Of Fame promoter Arum – whose Top Rank promotes Fury along with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions – is not concerned and believes the WBC will give Fury its relatively new ‘franchise champion’ status, allowing him to skip mandatory obligations to focus on facing Joshua.
Arum told The Athletic: “I’m not concerned at all. The time has come to do the fights the public wants to see and not worry about these mandatories that just distract from the opportunity for boxing to really shine. Fury just wants to do the big fights.
“Mauricio (Sulaiman) is invested in, and wants to do the best, for boxing. And if there’s a mandatory, he’ll do what he did for Lomachenko and Canelo… that’s the way to handle it. Mauricio is not going to let a mandatory stand in the way of fighters like these guys, and I think he’ll make Fury a ‘franchise champion,’ because the big champions willing to fight the top guys who make the most sense shouldn’t be bothered by these mandatories. There’s a way to handle this situation.”
Of course while Fury becoming ‘franchise champion’ would smooth the path to Fury vs Joshua somewhat and elevate Whyte to WBC champion status, it would not come without negatives too.
Firstly, Whyte would become champion without winning the title inside the ring and would in the process miss out on the huge payday a fight with Fury would bring. Secondly, it could scupper any hope of Fury vs Joshua being for the undisputed championship.
Former ESPN lead boxing writer Dan Rafael recently raised this point – telling IFL TV: “My perspective – and I’ve said this to Mauricio (Sulaiman), who obviously disagreed with me – I would say that the winner of a Fury vs Joshua fight, if Fury goes in as the franchise champion, the winner of the fight will be the lineal champion, will be the number one heavyweight in the world, will have the belts that Joshua has, but will not have the WBC title because that would be given to Whyte.
“So therefore while that winner is number one – no doubt about it – he’s not the undisputed champion and the reason why is because the undisputed champion means you’ve got all four titles. You wouldn’t have all four titles.”