Why is Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua cancelled?
George Warren blames Matchroom Boxing for the breakdown in negotiations because “communication was lacking”
The proposed heavyweight title fight between undefeated WBC champion Tyson Fury and former unified champion Anthony Joshua is definitely off, according to promoters Eddie Hearn and George Warren.
The CEO of Queensberry Promotions and promoter Frank Warren's son, George, has told TalkSport in fine detail the exact reasons why the super-fight between their heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua failed to materialise.
On Monday last week Fury, 34, issued a deadline to Joshua of 5pm for the contract to be signed that would have seen a 60/40 purse split in favour of the champion.
There's been conflicting statements from both parties involved in the protracted negotiations for the past few weeks, so CEO George spoke in length about what exactly went wrong, “I think the first thing to say is there’s always gonna be a difference in opinion in the extent of what needed to be done to get that deal over the line last week,” he began.
“My personal opinion is that everyone was working hard. There seemed to be intent from the AJ side to try and do this, there certainly was from our perspective to try and do this.
“We made quite extensive requests over to their side both verbally, in emails, text messages, chasing them down to try and engage with us in a quicker fashion last week.
“And it fell down because quite frankly we got to a point with them where communication coming back from them and the substance of that communication was lacking.
“I would say there was no ambition on their side to help me try and keep the thing going, that’s what it felt like by the end of it.
“I heard Eddie say the last time we spoke was on Thursday. The truth of the matter is we were waiting for a turnaround on a contract to come back on Wednesday evening.
“We didn’t get that, we instead got an email, a request from Frank Smith who obviously works for Matchroom, to ask us if we were still up for having discussions.
“Quite quickly after that, Eddie and I spoke in the night. It was left that he was gonna email me something over to the extent of dealing with what they declared as their final issue related to the way that we drafted the contracts, which was related to our position of having final say.
“On that call I suggested we insert some type of language to deal with having a mediator in place to settle disputes.
“We followed that up on Thursday inviting them to engage with us on that last real outstanding point on the top line. And that email didn’t get responded to.
“I tried to call Eddie a couple of times on Thursday, he didn’t answer my calls, didn’t get back to me. I briefly spoke to Freddie Cunningham [of 258 MGT] on Thursday. It was left that he was gonna come back to me and let me know their position on how quickly they wanted to move on this thing.
“I chased them up with a phone call, didn’t get a return, didn’t hear back from them on the text that I sent them.
“And the last bit of communication was myself and Frank Smith, we spoke on Friday relating to a different fight that we’re looking to try and finalise with Matchroom.
“On that call we briefly touched on it. He said that he’d been out of the loop, he’d been away travelling for work, but was gonna catch up with his side and come back to me and let me know if there was anything that they could do in the short term to keep the conversations going.
“I didn’t hear back, so my assumption is they as a group just decided for whatever reason that they didn’t wanna engage last week to try and get this thing over the line, which is disappointing.”
Warren then implied that the fight is definitely dead in the water, at least for this year, “I don’t think there’s any way it can [happen on December 3] because when one side is told to expect a contract back and again, I’m just going off of the conversations that I had.
“They were constructive conversations. I think at the beginning of this thing we tried to keep this away from the press and the public.
“Eddie spoke on Thursday to the media, I think he confirmed to the media that they were going to send back a revised contract on Thursday.
“It didn’t arrive. I didn’t get it on Thursday, I didn’t get it on Friday. I haven’t had anything since.
“It looks like everyone’s got to move on and focus on different things.
“I can only talk from the perspective of us.
“Where were we last week? On Monday we received a redline [contract], not a final version as Eddie said yesterday to the press, it was not a final version.
“It was still subject to Anthony Joshua’s lawyers comments, but they sent over a redline on the contract that we initially drafted.
“We invited them to do a Zoom the following day, that took place. We made suggestions on the way to deal with some of the outstanding issues.
“I think that they were received and accepted. They were proposed then in writing with a turnaround draft on Wednesday.
“It was left at that point, the expectation was that they were gonna turn something round to us, we would get on a call, try and figure this thing out, try and work through whatever issues anyone had.
“It was brought to our attention late in the day on Wednesday night that AJ was not happy with Queensberry having the final say.
“I think we made a very fair and reasonable compromise on that to put some type of mediator in the middle to settle any outstanding dispute.
“That invitation went over in writing as well as over the phone in conversations I had with Eddie and Freddie Cunningham. They didn’t reply to that, they just didn’t. That’s where it got to.”
George candidly added, “I don’t think it’s a blame game here, I’m not looking to point the finger at any particular individual. There was intent from their side to make this fight in the first instance.
“My observation, my perception of it is for whatever reason last week they decided that it wasn’t something they wanted to do in a fast and quite responsive manner.”
Former rival Dereck Chisora has now been offered the fight with Fury on December 3, which would serve as a trilogy. Warren touched on the subject of Fury's next fight, “We are obligated to provide Tyson with fights. He’s got an opportunity to have a voluntary defence of his title.
“This position’s only come about because Oleksandr Usyk is unavailable in December. The intent was always to go straight to the undisputed and the only reason this opportunity arose was because Usyk won’t be available until early next year.
“Tyson made it clear to us he wants to fight, he originally wanted to fight on November 12, we had a date held.
“He came up with the idea, he wanted to see if this fight [vs Joshua] could be made, he made that offer.
“It was our job to get that offer into a place where it could be executed upon.
“That’s why personally I worked extremely hard across a lot of different conversations, not just with Matchroom, not just with 258, but with the broadcasters who I think were incredibly helpful, productive and proactive about getting this done.
“We got to a point last week with them where deals in principle were agreed. We knew who was going to be doing what. We knew what participation DAZN were having, what BT were responsible for. We knew the position that ESPN were gonna have in America as well as DAZN.
“This all obviously needed to be formalised in a formal agreement and that’s not contested, but that dynamic shouldn’t have slowed down in my opinion the progress that the parties were making.
“There was a shift in them being proactive to get this done.”
Responding to doubts about the initial contract sent to Joshua’s team, Warren replied: “The contract that we drafted, it was drafted following a meeting that myself and Top Rank’s lawyer attended with Eddie Hearn and Frank Smith in London, very good conversation.
“It was Eddie’s suggestion for us to draft a provisions of services agreement – a POS agreement.
“A POS in its context is one entity requesting from the other side to grant rights that they have for us to then utilise and exploit. So that was the contract that we drafted on his suggestion.
“They quickly came back following that contract being sent to them and asked instead for it to be drafted in the form of a co-promotional agreement.
“Now we jumped on that within 48 hours, had very good conversations with Matchroom about redrafting that to fit that form.
“But they took what I would say a little bit more time than we wanted for that draft to get over to us. It took seven or eight days further to get that back.”
Fury’s persistant social media posts and demands have been seen by many to have potentially hampered the negotiations,but Warren disagreed, “He did leave it to the promoters to work it out.
“But I think a lot of the public statements from Tyson came from frustration on his side on firstly not understanding why it was taking so long to get done.
“There are layers of complexity in this agreement, but at the same time there was opportunity for us to make progress.
“The point on Tyson putting things out [on social media], that’s absolutely true and they can always say, ‘That was the reason we downed tools.’
“But at the end of the day, we were engaging with them still, we were talking with them.
“What I was asking for, kind of pleading with them, ‘Look, just give me something positive to show this thing’s still viable.’
“Tyson’s position was he just didn’t see that coming in when I’m telling him something’s going to arrive and it doesn’t arrive.”
Asked why Matchroom didn't want to move at their pace to ensure the fight could be made, Warren replied, “You have to ask them that question why.”
Eddie Hearn gave his side of the story, “I mean the fact is, huge fights like this don’t get made in two weeks. That’s the reality, when two guys have huge commercial deals with different broadcasters, it takes time.
“And we worked away with George Warren and it was actually going very, very well. Tyson Fury put us on the clock – on a 48-hour clock where the contract was nowhere near ready.
“He told us the fight was off, two days later Queensberry popped over and said, ‘Oh no it’s not, we’ve convinced him’. Then he gives us another day.
“You know these things take time. And you should look at AJ’s resume to know that he’s never ducked one fight, and I work for Anthony Joshua.
“So when he instructs me to make a fight, and when he agrees terms, I don’t pull out of those terms or try and go the other way.
“Bob Arum said I think two or three weeks ago, ‘There’s no chance in the world this fight gets made’, and then yesterday came out and said, ‘No everything’s agreed, it’s just Eddie Hearn’s fault’.
“So I’m the easy one to blame. And even when there’s a bad fight I get the blame. And I’ve got used to it now, I don’t mind.
“But I work for Anthony Joshua, he accepted the terms that were put to him. In the meantime, don’t forget Anthony Joshua represents Derek Chisora.
“Derek Chisora received a contract last week for the Tyson fury fight. Obviously AJ sees that and thinks, “What’s going on?’
“We’ve apparently missed two deadlines now that are the final deadlines, so I don’t know. I’ve not spoken to Queensberry since Thursday of last week.
“As far as AJ is concerned, Fury’s told AJ the fight is off and Derek Chisora has the contract. Happy to keep on talking, but I just don’t see the solution because I think Tyson Fury wants to fight Mahmoud Charr or Derek Chisora.”
Who will Tyson Fury fight December 3rd now?
Regarding what’s next for Fury now, Warren concluded: “You’ll find out very soon [who he’ll fight on December 3].
“It will be a credible fight, it will be a good fight, it will be Tyson back at a UK stadium.
“Before what I think what is likely to happen now is we move forward with the undisputed fight [vs Oleksandr Usyk] early next year away from the UK.
“So from the perspective of me, fans should come out and see him because you don’t know how many times Tyson’s gonna fight in the UK now.”