The Friday Faceup

Are British fightfans being shafted ?

This week we heard numerous statements made by Eddie Hearn Head of Matchroom Boxing about Anthony Joshua’s possible future itinerary. We were told that he’s likely to defend in the UK against IBF #1 contender Kubrat Pulev in a stadium venue either late May or early June. This being subject to the Bulgarian Pulev’s agreement. We hear that this is the unified champs preference as he wants to ‘come home’.

In the same interview for BBC 5 Live Boxing we are told that Derick Chisora is likely to fight Oleksandr Usyk in March, again in a British venue and this is being sold as ‘a treat’.

However, what we are then told is if there is not a third fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury (the rematch currently slated for Feb 22nd) that a unification is possible between the winner and Joshua by late 2020. This would be unlikely given the logistics of pulling that fight together within six months, but added to that if, is that the fight is unlikely to happen in the UK.

The explanation we are told is that there are several potential venues around the world that could host that fight, that would offer the protagonists the greatest reward. An offer we are told is already on the table from Saudi Arabia and there are suggestions that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) formerly Zaire, where there has been a civil war going on for the last couple of decades and human atrocities are still being carried out, to replicate the historical legacy the venue for the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ would create. We hear AJ is interested in this.

Given that if Joshua beats Pulev, and Fury were to defeat Wilder, we would be presented with an all British fight to unify the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The Undisputed fails to accept and understand why this would not happen in the United Kingdom.

Every casual sports fan and even those who have a passing interest in boxing know the only fight that really matters down the stretch is Joshua against the winner of Wilder-Fury. Then finally we will know who ‘The Man’ is; the undisputed Heavyweight Champion (which would include Fury’s much quoted ‘lineal’ title).

We are constantly told how fantastic the UK fight fans are, that our venues create an atmosphere unrivalled anywhere else in the world, and this, they back up by shelling out millions of pounds to support their heroes. So why after seven years of supporting and building Joshua up to be the fighter he is, and similarly supporting the ‘Gypsy King’ Fury are we being told this might not happen in the UK ? The answer, to Hearn’s credit, we are truthfully told is money, but also legacy.

British fight fans have witnessed Joshua recently take fights in New York and Saudi Arabia, great experiences as they were for those who could afford to travel and watch over the satellite TV channels, but have they not earned the right to have the fight on these shores ? Whoever promotes or co-promotes the ‘winner take all’ fight whether it be Joshua v Fury or Wilder, has a duty to deliver that fight to a live UK audience. Their support, loyalty and hard earned cash deserves it.

We are some months and maybe a year away from that happening but Messrs Hearn, Warren and Arum should consider this in their final selection of a venue. Wishful thinking I know but if it’s not said now then British fight fans will again be shelling out on flights and all that comes with it. Not again I say.

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