Hearn says the possibility of Kubrat Pulev and Deontay Wilder stepping aside to allow the Britons to meet next is real. Bulgarian Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s titles and had been due to fight him at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on July 20. Fury meanwhile is currently obliged contractually to fight American Deontay Wilder for a third time.
And excitement reached fever pitch earlier this week when The Athletic boxing insider Mike Coppinger claimed Fury vs Joshua talks were under way, aimed at Wilder stepping aside to pave the way for the fight to take place in Saudi Arabia in December.
But Hearn told the Sky Boxing Show on Sky Sports News: “Last night I had a call from ESPN – saying sources tell them negotiations are under way. And I just told them, ‘look – definitely negotiations aren’t under way’. We have a contract to fight Kubrav Pulev next. Tyson has a contract to fight Deontay Wilder next.
“Obviously with everything that’s happening, there is I believe keenness from the sides of Anthony Joshua and our team and keenness on the side of Tyson Fury and his team to potentially go straight into that fight.
“There is like I said the major hurdle that we are both under contract for other fights. So firstly, there’s no negotiations that have taken place and those negotiations can’t take place until we know that Deontay Wilder will step aside, and Kubrat Pulev will step aside. Everything can be solved with money.
“What has been happening is, we have had a number of approaches from territories asking and enquiring, and making offers to stage that fight. And ourselves and MTK have been in discussions to just look at those offers and discuss when that fight might take place.
“Initially we were looking to fight on June 20th, and Fury against Wilder was July. And we all planned to make this fight in December. Now could we go straight into a fight in December? Would we have the opportunity to have a live audience in December? Maybe not.
“As we stand now, our next fight – AJ’s next fight – is Kubrat Pulev. And Fury’s next fight is Deontay Wilder. Could a deal be struck for them to step aside? Absolutely. Would they be willing to entertain it? Absolutely. But right now, the focus is on the contracts that we have signed with a move for the winners fighting the winners, probably in spring 2021.”
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) May 1, 2020
Coppinger’s Tweet talked of the potential for Saudi Arabia to stage Fury vs Joshua, having already hosted Joshua’s points victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in December 2019. And Hearn doesn’t believe the crash in oil prices caused by COVID-19 will dim the ambition there.
“I think the ambition will be even higher, from these people. We’ve had two other offers come in from other territories. We don’t know which territory right now will be allowed to implement a live gate, live audience before other countries.
“If you look at countries like New Zealand and Australia, it looks like there are zero cases now in New Zealand and very few in Australia. So there’s gonna be certain countries that are gonna start this up sooner than others. For me, we would love to bring AJ against Fury to the UK. Right now, especially in December, that doesn’t look like a possibility
“So whilst I’d love to tell you: ‘we’re in negotiations, and it’s close’, what we’re doing is we’re talking. We’re all moving in the right direction. We’ve all got the same mindset, which is create the biggest fight in boxing history between two British world champions fighting for the undisputed world heavyweight championship.
“You will get this fight, it’s just a question of when and where.”