‘That’s the bottom line’: Fury must fight Wilder unless American steps aside as Saudi superfight with Joshua is thrown into chaos

The biggest fight in boxing appears to be in serious jeopardy once again after a US judge ruled that Deontay Wilder has a contractual right to fight Tyson Fury for a third time before September 15.

After a year of false starts and near continuous speculation, the blockbuster showdown between the two men who hold all the marbles in boxing's heavyweight division, Fury and Anthony Joshua, had appeared to finally be on solid ground after all parties had agreed to an August 14 date for a fight to take place in Saudi Arabia.

However, those plans have been thrown into serious doubt after an arbitrator sided with Wilder, saying that he has a contractual right to face 'The Gypsy King' once again in the coming months.

Fury and Wilder have met in the ring twice before, with the first being scored a draw in late 2018 and the second coming in February of last year when Fury handed the American slugger his first career defeat by seventh-round TKO. 

Wilder's contract afforded him the right to a third fight with Fury in 2020 but delays associated with the Covid-19 pandemic forced a delay – leading to Fury targeting a winner-takes-all bout with fellow Brit Joshua amid claims that the rematch clause in Wilder's contract had expired. 

Wilder's team brought the matter to arbitration, where it was ruled by retired judge Daniel Weinstein that Wilder does indeed have a right to be Fury's next opponent, and that the fight must come in advance of the middle of September. 

The ruling opens a new frontline in the protracted negotiations for a fight which would crown boxing's first undisputed heavyweight champion in two decades, but Frank Warren – Fury's UK promoter – says that he hopes an accord can be reached for Wilder to step aside and allow the Fury-Joshua fight to progress unimpeded. 

"We are hoping that we can come to some accommodation [with Wilder]," Warren said to talkSPORT on Tuesday.

"We have started talks, and hopefully an accommodation will be met with Wilder’s side that will enable Tyson and AJ to get it on. If not, then Tyson will have to fight Wilder. That is the bottom line. 

"There has to be some consideration and if we can get to some form of solution and he agrees to it, the benefit to Wilder is if Tyson wins the fight against AJ, then instead of fighting for just the WBC belt he’ll be fighting for four belts. 

"It’s a problem and we have to deal with it. If Tyson has to fight Wilder, then that fight [against Joshua] will get delayed. We want it to go on straight away. That is the fight we want to see. That is what we are working hard, and have been working hard, to make happen."

The latest stumbling block in the much-anticipated showdown between the two biggest stars in heavyweight boxing comes just a day after Fury declared that the Joshua fight was "100% on for August 14".

"I’ve got some massive news for you all guys," said Fury. "I’ve just got off the phone from Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia, he’s told me this fight’s 100 per cent on.

"August 14, 2021 – summertime. All eyes of the world will be on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I cannot wait, repeat, cannot wait to smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all times."

News of latest snag in the Fury-Joshua fight, however, was seen as an opportunity in Kiev after Oleksandr Usyk's promoter, Alexander Krassyuk, announced that he was set to hold talks with Joshua's UK promoter, Eddie Hearn, ahead of a potential fight between the Englishman and the former undisputed cruiserweight king.

The undefeated Usyk is currently listed as the mandatory challenger to Joshua's WBO title and Krassyuk says that his fighter would be more than happy to fill any unexpected gap in AJ's schedule.

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Tyson Fury said a date has been confirmed for his showdown with Anthony Joshua. © Twitter / Reuters
‘See you in Saudi’: Fury says date confirmed for Joshua showdown in ‘biggest sporting event ever to grace planet Earth’ (VIDEO)

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