The heavyweight division is currently in a state of chaos but, hopefully, it should all become somewhat clearer on Wednesday evening.
In September last year, everything was relatively straightforward: Anthony Joshua had to dispatch of his WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, while Tyson Fury simply had to beat Deontay Wilder again, having been legally forced into a trilogy bout with his great rival. The undisputed talk could then resume.
As we all know, Fury won, Joshua didn’t. The goal posts shifted, but mostly everyone was on the same page. Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn insisted they would immediately trigger the contractually-agreed rematch clause, while Fury was expected to be ordered to fight Dillian Whyte.
Tyson Fury (left) and Dillian Whyte (right) have until 6pm TODAY to agree to a match-up
In the proceeding months, Joshua did, in fact, trigger his contractually-agreed rematch clause, while Fury has, in fact, been ordered to face WBC mandatory challenger Whyte, who has been patiently waiting for his shot since 2017. But, remarkably, the heavyweight landscape still remains unclear; who each of Fury, Joshua, Usyk and Whyte will next fight is still unknown… for now.
The WBC have set a deadline of 6pm (UK time) on Wednesday for Fury and Whyte to finally negotiate their fight, before purse bids are called and the immediate future of the heavyweight division can be decided. It’s a deadline that has been pushed back three times already, though.
With the all-important deadline approaching, Sportsmail answers some key questions: What exactly is a purse bid? Why are the Fury-Whyte negotiations proving difficult? Could Fury fight Usyk instead? What has each fighter said on the matter? And what is the expected outcome?
What is a purse bid?
Let’s start with the easy part. Boxing has been increasingly difficult to follow as the years have gone by but, luckily, this part has stayed the same.
If a deal between Whyte and Fury can be agreed, there will be no need for a purse bid
Importantly, a purse bid will only be needed if fight terms cannot be agreed between the two camps.
If Fury, promoted by Frank Warren of Queensbury and Bob Arum of Top Rank, can agree a fight with Whyte, promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, there will be no purse bid.
A purse bid, essentially, is a process in which promoters bid for the right to stage a fight. The promoter who bids the highest will win, with that figure then divided by the purse split – which determines the share each boxer will earn from the fight.
This split differs from governing body to governing body, each of which have their own specific formula in hand.
Why is Fury vs Whyte proving so difficult to negotiate?
The match-up between Fury and Whyte is core to the chaos currently dominating the heavyweight landscape. It largely holds the key to the division’s immediate future.
With Joshua and Usyk seemingly tied up by their eagerly-anticipated rematch, initially earmarked for March or April, the WBC ordered Fury to defend his WBC title against mandatory challenger Whyte.
Negotiations have proven difficult, however. Three deadlines have come and gone, with a fourth now set for Wednesday, January 26 at 6pm.
‘The WBC has received requests from both sides, Fury and Whyte, to extend the free negotiation period which has been granted,’ a WBC statement read last Friday. ‘If there is no agreement a purse offer ceremony will take place on Wednesday January 26.’
The primary issue, as it so often is, is money. The WBC’s rules state that a mandatory challenger will be granted 45 per cent of a purse split, though they can use their discretion to change that percentage. And in the case of Fury vs Whyte, ‘The Body Snatcher’ has been granted just 20 per cent – despite his status of interim champion.
Eddie Hearn (right) insists Whyte deserves more than 20 per cent of the share with Fury
Anthony Joshua, 32, has triggered a clause to order a rematch against Oleksandr Usyk
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman insisted the figure was based on previous earnings, with Fury reportedly receiving £20million for his trilogy bout against Wilder, while Whyte is said to have taken home £4m after avenging his defeat to Alexander Povetkin in their rematch.
Whyte, unhappy with this decision, has been in a dispute with the WBC regarding the split, as well as a more long-standing arbitration case regarding the length of time it has taken him to receive a world title shot.
Hearn last week insisted an 80/20 split was ridiculous, and though indicating a fight between the pair looks likely, he asserted that he will make sure his man gets a fair cut.
However, and it’s a big however, there is also the potential that Fury won’t fight Whyte at all, and will instead take on Usyk for all the marbles.
Is Fury vs Usyk a possibility?
It’s possible, but perhaps not probable. While the negotiations between Fury and Whyte rumbled on, and after Joshua triggered his rematch clause to face Usyk, interest emerged from the Middle East to stage an undisputed showdown next.
For this to happen, both Joshua and Whyte would have to agree to step aside. Of course, a hefty amount of cash would be involved.
Earlier in the week, The Telegraph reported that Joshua would be willing to accept a £15m step-aside, allowing Fury and Usyk to fight for the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF titles in an historic event. He would then fight the winner later in the year.
Anthony Joshua called claims he will accept £15m to step aside ‘bulls***’ in an Instagram clip
Joshua swiftly responded online, insisting, ‘I’m the man in control of my destiny’ and stressing he hadn’t seen a contract. But, importantly, he didn’t outright deny the suggestion that he may step aside.
Hearn later revealed he would sit down with Joshua and his management on Tuesday (yesterday) to discuss their options, while Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk, though acknowledging the fight against Joshua remained ‘the basic option’, stated they have been in talks with Fury since November.
Having already pushed back purse bids on three occasions, the WBC are gunning for a swift solution. And if Fury is to fight Usyk next, it’s likely a deal would need to be agreed before Wednesday’s deadline.
What have the fighters said?
With such politics at hand, it’s not particularly surprising that none of the fighters are currently happy.
Fury, who has typically remained vocal throughout, was visibly frustrated in a video he posted across social media on Tuesday.
‘Tick, tick, tock,’ he said. ‘Is Whyte going to fight me? Is Joshua going to step aside? Let me know because I am sick of looking at these bums. I am sick of listening to their excuses.’
He then on Wednesday added: ‘I tell you what boys, there’s some pack of cowards out there, and some pack of bull**** talkers. I’ll tell you that now. ‘[They’re] making all the demands in the world, you cowards! Come and fight!’
Meanwhile, Whyte posted a video with the caption: ‘I just want f***ing war, that’s all I want is to go to war with the best. F*** all this he said she said bulls***.’ Tagged were Hearn, Fury and Joshua.
Whyte showed his clear frustration in a video posted onto his Instagram on Tuesday
Fury, perhaps hinting a bout against Whyte would be next, responded, saying: ‘Good man, let the wars begin.’
Joshua, as stated, angrily responded to the news of a potential step-aside. He said: ‘I’m hearing people say, “AJ accepts £15 million to step aside”. I haven’t signed a contract, I haven’t seen a contract. So as it stands, stop listening until it comes from me.
‘I’m the man in control of my destiny, I’m the man that handles my business, I’m a smart individual and I make calculated decisions every step of the way. Don’t listen to other sources. If I tell you something then you know it’s real.’
Usyk has been the least vocal of the quartet. Essentially, he and his team want to fight Fury next, but if it’s Joshua first then so be it.
What’s the expected outcome?
There are so many uncertainties here, and it’s difficult to predict the exact outcome.
However, the likelihood as things stand is that Joshua will fight Usyk once more, while Fury and Whyte will go head-to-head.
Whyte is the biggest obstacle here. If he wasn’t involved, an undisputed clash between Fury and Usyk would be easier to make.
You can understand why Joshua would step aside. He has a monumentally difficult task ahead of him in a rematch against Usyk, which is simply to regain his belts. Step aside and he gets his shot at the undisputed championship, either against Fury in an all-time historic bout, or against Usyk, who he would have fought anyway. He’d also make a lot of money.
It remains likely that Joshua and Usyk will go toe-to-toe once more in an enticing rematch
Stepping aside makes less sense for Whyte. Would he then have until after Joshua fights the winner? Would there be another rematch clause inserted? After waiting circa five years for a shot at the title, would he really forgo his chance for a lump sum?
It seems more likely that Whyte will instead reluctantly agree to a 20 per cent split and fight Fury if his appeal to increase his share is rejected.
There is, of course, also the possibility that the purse bid deadline will be pushed back once more, and again we’ll be left in limbo. Let’s hope not.