Can Fury vs Joshua really happen in December?

When Tyson Fury challenged Anthony Joshua to step up and face him in December if Deontay Wilder doesn’t, it again got the boxing public very excited.

In reality though the chance of a massive unification fight happening before the end of 2020 appears to be significantly less than 1 percent.

What the last few days have done, now Dillian Whyte is no longer a WBC mandatory commitment, is really start the promotion for a superfight which is still likely to take place in the summer of 2021.

Joshua (23-1) had been pretty silent when it was announced on June 10 that he and Fury had the financial structure of a two-fight deal in place. Now he is freely trading insults and jibes with ‘The Gypsy King’ (30-0-1), and that should tell you everything – the promotion has begun.

Fury’s December challenge though was just another line to build excitement, even if the Wilder trilogy did not for some reason conclude, and here is why:

Fury vs Joshua: the contracts

For Fury and Joshua and Fury to fight in December there is a lot to resolve, and we are already just three months away…

Not only do the fighters not have signed contracts yet, there is no decision on a venue or site. These details involve potentially hundreds of millions of pounds, and are not resolved fast.

All Fury and Joshua have is the mutual understanding that they will split revenues 50-50 for the first fight, and 60-40 to the winner in the rematch.

Everything else as they say is up for grabs…

Fury vs Joshua: the TV picture

The TV and PPV element to a big fight is always a fascinating sub-plot, and it doesn’t come much bigger or more fascinating than this.

The fact Fury (BT Sport) and Joshua (Sky Sports) are contracted to different networks in the UK makes things especially complicated.

And while there are precedents for joint PPVs in the US between HBO and Showtime (think Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson in 2002 and Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Manny Pacquiao in 2015) again the negotiations and details will take time to iron out.

Fury vs Joshua: the promotion

All massive fights take time to build. And while Fury vs Joshua would be a blockbuster in December, it will be even bigger come June 2021.

Hopefully by then both men have won their interim bouts, they have jabbed at each other for another six months in the media, and the hype is off the charts.

Timing, as in life, is everything in boxing. There just isn’t enough time between now and December to finalise all the details AND maximise the potential of the promotion.

Tyson Fury Anthony Joshua Twitter
Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are ramping up the promotion for their planned fight.

Fury vs Wilder 3

While there have been many airing doubts as to whether this fight will ever happen given the delays and manner of Fury’s one-sided demolition job in the rematch, they have not been in the Wilder camp.

‘The Bronze Bomber’ has been silent for months now but his manager Shelley Finkel has been consistent in saying his man will fight.

Fury’s co-promoter Bob Arum meanwhile says the fight is contracted and if the planned December 2020 date does not happen there is a contingency plan for it to take place in Asia in February 2021.

This of course isn’t even factoring in what the WBC might have to say about the situation. They have said they are happy for Fury and Joshua to meet post-Fury vs Wilder 3, but nothing about what the scenario is if the latter bout does not take place.

Joshua vs Pulev

Fury may be happy to take on Joshua in December if Wilder doesn’t for any reason. But that is forgetting the fact AJ has his own commitments later this year.

He must defend his titles against IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev – likely at London’s O2 Arena in December and quite possibly behind closed doors.

If, as Eddie Hearn says, Joshua’s main focus is on becoming undisputed heavyweight champion, he is unlikely to risk skipping a mandatory defence…

The COVID-19 factor

We have already outlined some major reasons why this fight won’t happen in December, but here is a massive one.

The global pandemic shows no signs of disappearing soon, and there is no guarantee any arena in the world will be in a place to house a live gate this side of 2021.

That live gate is a huge element of any revenue projection for a major fight (Fury vs Wilder 2 raked in a heavyweight-record near-$17million in February 2020).

And if Hearn says Joshua vs Pulev happening behind closed doors in December remains “a strong possibility”, how could Fury vs Joshua take place in front of a massive crowd?

So for now, while the December angle is great for building the hype, that’s all it is. It is now almost certain Fury vs Joshua happens sooner rather than later. But that sooner remains the summer of 2021.