Although both must first get past a number of mandatory opponents, the two biggest global stars of the heavyweight division have reached an agreement on a two-fight deal that could crown an undisputed four-belt champion.
British promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, who represents unified champion Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs), told Sky Sports News on Tuesday that his fighter has agreed on the financials for two blockbuster bouts against WBC and lineal champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs). The fights would be among the biggest that could be made in the sport and clearly the most important bout in the history of the boxing-crazed United Kingdom.
"We're making great progress," Hearn said. "There is still a lot to overcome. We are looking at venues and dates.
"It's fair to say [Joshua and Fury] are in agreement regarding the financial terms of the fight."
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Before getting too excited, it's important to mention that both heavyweights likely wouldn't square for the first time until at least the summer of 2021. More importantly, both will have to get through a dangerous set of opponents to get there, unless their respective promoters are willing to pay hefty sums of step-aside money.
Fury, 31, knocked out Deontay Wilder in their February rematch and is contractually obligated to take part in a trilogy bout targeted for later this year, depending upon how the coronavirus pandemic plays out. He also has a mandatory opponent in Dillian Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs) that he is expected to face after Wilder. Fury took to social media to confirm Hearn's statement and note what needs to happen first.
"The biggest fight in British boxing history has just been agreed!" Fury said. "Big shoutout to [Dan Kinnerhan]. He literally got this done over the line, two-fight deal. Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua next year. One problem, I just gotta smash Deontay Wilder's face right in, in the next fight. And then we go into the Joshua fight next year. So there we are. The Gypsy King versus AJ is on for next year, but there's a hurdle in the road called the 'Bronze Bomber' AKA the Knockout King and I will get onto it."
Joshua, who regained his WBO, WBA and IBF titles by outpointing Andy Ruiz Jr. last year, must first get past a pair of respectable mandatory opponents in Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), whom he was originally set to face in June, and former undisputed cruiserweight champ Aleksandr Usyk who has begun his transition to heavyweight and is expected to face Dereck Chisora later this year.
"We've been talking to [Fury's management team] MTK, giving them the assurances from Joshua's side that all the details on the structure of the deal is approved from our side," Hearn said. "And it is from Fury's side, as well. We're in a good place. It's fair to say that, in principle, both guys have agreed to that fight. Two fights.
"[There's] a lot to overcome in the meantime. We're moving in the right direction. I'm confident that both guys have given their blessing for the fight to go ahead."
Hearn added that he's in discussion over a number of possible sites. Not only has Joshua regularly fought in front of stadium crowds as large as 90,000 in the U.K., his victory over Ruiz in their rematch took place in Saudi Arabia and reportedly netted AJ upwards of $80 million.