Tyson Fury’s projected world heavyweight title fight against Anthony Joshua appears to have been plunged into doubt by a US legal ruling, with Fury conceding that he might now have fight Deontay Wilder first.
Fury announced this week that the British pair would clash in Saudi Arabia on 14 August but he has now been told he must first undertake a third fight against Wilder.
An arbitrator in the US has reportedly upheld Wilder’s claim that he is contractually due another meeting, which must take place before 15 September this year. While the decision would not necessarily scupper a Fury-Joshua deal, it would require further negotiations and a substantial pay-off in order to persuade Wilder to step aside.
Following the announcement of the arbitrator’s decision, Fury posted on his Instagram story with a message across a background photo of Wilder with new trainer Malik Scott.
“What a joke bronzebomber has become. Asked for 20 million to move over joker,” Fury wrote in the post. “Looks like I have to crack his skull again.”
Fury had announced earlier this week that the unification clash was “100% on” for 14 August, adding: “I cannot wait to smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all time.”
Fury and Wilder fought a split-decision draw in December 2018 in Los Angeles, before Fury won their second meeting by seventh-round stoppage in February last year. Attempts to secure a third fight were complicated by an injury to Wilder and an absence of available television dates, prompting Fury to move on based on the assumption that any agreement had expired.
Fury’s announcement that he would pit his WBC title against Joshua’s WBA, WBO and IBF belts and put them on the line at a purpose‑built indoor arena close to the Saudi capital Riyadh appeared to move confirmation one step closer.
But now promoters must revisit the terms of the imminent deal, with plans for back‑to‑back meetings between the British pair appearing especially insecure.
Speaking on Tuesday, promoter Eddie Hearn had stressed the need for Fury’s camp to find a swift resolution.
“We can’t wait around,” Hearn said. “We had a deal in place with Tyson Fury and we were told the arbitration wouldn’t be an issue, that we could move on with this fight. They were wrong and that’s on them, that’s their responsibility and their problem. We hope they can solve that problem, but we have to look after ourselves and Anthony Joshua.
“We have to maintain the position of unified world champion, and those talks will continue and we want to be in a position by the end of this week to know, are we fighting Tyson Fury or are we moving forward with another option?”