The elusive heavyweight championship unification mega-fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury slipped further away on Tuesday night - with promoter Eddie Hearn publicly admitting that he is looking into other options for AJ.
Joshua and Fury looked set for an August 14 showdown in Saudi Arabia, before a legal challenge from Deontay Wilder wrecked everybody's plans. 'The Bronze Bomber' believes he is contractually entitled to a third fight against Fury for the WBC heavyweight champion - and went to arbitration court in an attempt to force Fury to honour the clause.
On Monday, judge Daniel Weinstein ruled in Wilder's favour, declaring that the trilogy bout between the pair must take place before September 15 this year. Unless an agreement can be reached to convince Wilder to step aside, the verdict puts an end to Fury's proposed August date with Joshua.
Speaking on his company YouTube channel, Matchroom Boxing boss Hearn conceded that the situation between Fury and Wilder has forced him to start exploring other opponents for Joshua's next outing.
"I have been focusing on Plan A. The only fight we had our mind on was Tyson Fury," explained Hearn.
"We hope that that fight can still take place on August 14th. The game changed last night where we have to have a plan B in place, and probably a plan C as well.
"We have a couple of different options; of course, the one that springs to mind immediately is the WBO mandatory of Oleksandr Usyk."
Former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk has been the number one contender for the WBO heavyweight championship for almost two years now. If, as is now looking likely, the fight with Fury cannot be made for August, then it seems the Ukrainian will finally get his opportunity at Joshua.
Hearn insisted he is only able to give Fury's representatives a matter of days to try and resolve things with Wilder - and save the August 14 fight with Joshua.
"They have been quite patient and I think really, we are in a situation where if Team Fury don’t get themselves together, get their act together, by the end of this week, we will have no option but to look for an alternative fight.
"AJ wants to fight this summer, Oleksandr Usyk is the mandatory, we have two or three other options as well.
"In an ideal world, if the right deal could be done, to maintain those belts and to keep the Fury fight alive for December, but for the undisputed as well," said Hearn.
"I had a very good conversation this morning with Alex Krassyuk, he is a partner of ours and we have worked very well with Oleksandr Usyk and I was just very honest.
"I said to him, ‘Team Fury are trying to solve the issue, if they don’t, there’s a very good chance we could be fighting you...So if we are all sensible, let’s move forward, let’s try and look at the options to get that locked in.'"
A date of either August 21 or 28 is reportedly being targeted for a bout between Joshua and Usyk, according to the Athletic, as the prospects of Fury being available in August grow ever slimmer.
Speaking to ESPN yesterday, Fury's US promoter Bob Arum shut down any possibility of Wilder being paid to step aside.
"We're not paying Wilder to step aside," stated Arum emphatically. "It's better to get rid of him. We can make Fury vs AJ for November or December."
Backing up that sentiment, Arum also revealed that he has reserved Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on July 24 as the probable venue for the third fight between Fury and Wilder.
It seems that both Joshua and Fury will be defending their world heavyweight championships this summer. Frustratingly, though, it probably won't be against each other.News Now - Sport News