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TIMELINE: How Joshua, Fury’s planned bout crashed in five months

TIMELINE: How Joshua, Fury’s planned bout crashed in five months
May 22
18:24 2021

Heavyweight boxing has not witnessed a true champion in the last two decades since Lennox Lewis became undisputed champion in 1999 with victory over Evander Holyfield. Another chance presents itself 22 years later through Anthony Joshua, the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO champion, and Tyson Fury who holds the WBC and Ring Magazine titles.

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The highly anticipated bout, which had the boxing world looking at their calendar, would however not hold — for another year at least — and here is a look at how the British rival boxers and their promoters hyped the phantom bout in its five-month media circus.

December 13, 2020: Minutes after a successful title defence against Kubrat Pulev, Joshua, who seemed to be in a confident mood, had called out Fury for a unification bout. “Whoever has the belts I want to compete with [him]. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury,” Joshua said.

Fury, the Gypsy King, however, promised a quick knockout for Joshua in a swift response. “I want the fight. I want the fight next. I will knock him out in three rounds. I can’t wait to knock him out,” he said.

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March 12, 2021: Three months later, Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s manager, announced that two fights were agreed already in principle, adding that all that was left was “to get a site deal confirmed in the next month for the biggest boxing event.”

A frustrated Fury, who had then just knocked out Deontay Wilder, however, warned of another rematch instead of facing Joshua. “Don’t write Wilder out of the equation next, I could be having the trilogy fight with him yet,” Fury added from his corner.

'Grow up and fight somebody' -- Tyson Fury sends message to Anthony Joshua

Tyson Fury

March 28, 2021: “What have they signed?” John Fury, Tyson’s father, asked as he cast the first doubt over the fight. “They’ve signed nothing in my eyes. They’ve got no date, no venue, no nothing. What does it mean if you can’t get a date and a venue? What does it mean if no one is willing to put the money up?” Fury’s dad said as he blasted everyone on the negotiation table.

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April 10: Fury resurfaced about two weeks later to announce “three or four big offers on the table,” and “interest from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Russia, America, England.”

April 15-22, 2021: Hearn spoke about an approved venue and imminent deal while following it up with a firmer statement. “It’s 100 percent happening,” the promoter said despite the possible unavailability of Rob McCracken, manager and trainer of Joshua, due to the Olympics.

April 26, 2021: Bob Arum, Fury’s promoter, shocked the world by saying there was no deal yet. “Eddie Hearn is busy trying to sell the London Bridge,” Arum said. “Maybe we’ll breathe some life into Wilder, and Fury will fight Wilder and Joshua will fight Usyk.”

May 12-19, 2021: Hearn and Fury confirmed Saudi Arabia and August 14 for the fight. A few days later, Wilder’s team won at the court of arbitration to put an end to the dream fight. A furious Joshua labelled Fury a “fraud” a few hours later, accusing him of letting “boxing down”.

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Outcome: Fury and Wilder will contest a trilogy on July 24, while talks begin for a fight between Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, the WBO mandatory challenger. If Joshua and Fury win their bouts, it will clear the path to the most sought-after unification bout in 2022.

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