Quite possibly the most long-awaited and eagerly anticipated fight in British boxing history was finally announced yesterday (March 15)
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has stated that the contracts have been signed by both parties and that there are EIGHT locations currently in the running to host the bouts.
Without meaning to throw shade at all the excitement, Daily Star Sport reported this morning that the venue for the fight was one of only two conditions that could lead to either one or both fighters walking away from the deal.
But, unsurprisingly, Hearn is already on record, stating that they are not short of offers to host what will surely be one of the most lucrative heavyweight boxing contests in recent memory.
As per The Sun, Hearn said: “We’ve already had approaches from eight or nine sites. The offers have come from multiple countries in the Middle East, from Asia, eastern Europe and America. This is the biggest fight in boxing and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It will be a major, major win for a country that wants to showcase itself.”
Unfortunately for British fight fans, Hearn did not sound optimistic about the chances of staging the fight in the UK.
When asked about it recently during an interview with iFL TV, AJ’s promoter had rather a lot to get off his chest, stating: “When you talk about the venue that is starting to move because we’re in a position time-wise where we’ve had to move. So, your next question is ‘where is it going to be?’ Well, the answer to your question is it’s still wide open, but we are much further down the line than we were a week ago because we’ve had to speed that process up.
“I don’t like to give people false hopes. I saw Bob’s interview. ‘Yeah, Wembley is an option, Vegas is an option – I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it is. Do you honestly think Bob Arum gives a monkey’s about the UK fans? I mean come on. You’ve seen the comments about his fighters lately.
“Ultimately, they’re going to say to us ‘where can we generate the most money to hold this fight?’ Let’s not beat around the bush. And ultimately it’s going to be up to AJ and Tyson Fury to say ‘yep, we’re happy with that venue.
“If you asked everybody, myself, Frank Warren, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua where they would like to do this fight, it’s Wembley, of course it is. But one, I don’t think that’s possible and two, we can’t ignore the fact this is the biggest fight in boxing, it’s going to generate so much interest, so much money, we can’t just ignore that fact.”
Personally, I think it would be absolutely tragic to not have at least one leg of this historic boxing double-header take place on home soil, but Hearn is a realist, and his comments are honest. As unfortunate as it would be, the idea of Britain’s biggest ever boxing clash taking place on foreign soil is a likely reality.
Hearn continued: “Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, China, London, Las Vegas.
“Can you really sit there with confidence and say we’re going to be allowed 100,000 people in June in Wembley? You’ve answered the question.”
If these are the countries/cities being touted for the fight, it gives us a pretty good idea of the eight possible venues, too.
Let’s take a look.
Saudi Arabia: AJ did square off with Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in 2019, but this stadium was only erected for the fight and has since been dismantled.
Fury competed in Saudi Arabia during his short stint on the WWE circuit, so we think that the most likely stadium for the fight would be the scene of the Gypsy King’s W over Braun Strowman, the King Fahd International Stadium.
Qatar: The Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar holds 40,000 people and would be the obvious stage in Qatar.
Abu Dhabi: The Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium holds 42,000 and is the front-runner to host the fight in Abu Dhabi.
Singapore: Plenty of rich westerners operate out of Singapore’s financial hub, making the 55,000 capacity Singapore National Stadium one of the front-runners for the fight, in my opinion.
China: Bob Arum has long discussed the idea of staging a fight in China. Asia’s Las Vegas Macau is the front-runner to host.
Eastern Europe: Russia is the only country one would think likely to host Joshua vs Fury.
Las Vegas: The fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, USA, is an obvious choice for at least one of the two bouts. The MGM Grand would be the most obvious choice of stadium.
London: It’s an all-British heavyweight showdown. Hearn might be pessimistic on the chances of the fight happening in the UK, but the two fighters will be desperate for it, so I’d expect to see Wembley Stadium as a lead candidate for the second bout, in particular.
No matter where it happens, the Joshua vs Fury double-header is going to be a scrap for the ages.
Fingers crossed we get at least one of the two bouts in front of a rapturous, 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium, though, eh?