It would be the biggest fight in the history of British boxing, but don’t be surprised if it takes place in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and their deep pockets could play a part in whether Tyson Fury defends his newly acquired WBC belt in a third fight with former champion Deontay Wilder or takes on Anthony Joshua for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.
Wilder of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was stopped in the seventh round of his title fight with Fury last Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He said he plans to exercise a rematch clause and hopes to fight Fury for a third time in July. But the Saudis could offer enough money for Wilder to step aside and entice Fury and Joshua to stage their all-British showdown for the undisputed championship in the Middle East.
“From a common sense perspective, the U.K. is the place to host that fight,” Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing told The Post. He represents Joshua, the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion. “If you ask both fighters where they’d like that fight to happen they would definitely say they’d like to fight in the U.K. But the teams, the managers and the lawyers are going to say ‘present us all the options where this fight could be staged’ and the Saudi option will be significantly more money than any other option on the table.”
A potential Fury-Joshua fight in Saudi Arabia isn’t farfetched. Joshua regained his titles by beating Andy Ruiz last December at the Diriyah Arena, in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, which outbid everyone else, including Las Vegas, New York and the United Kingdom for the rematch after Joshua was upset by Ruiz in their first meeting at Madison Square Garden. Fury-Joshua would be even bigger.
“When you get to the stage of a fight like this where it’s the biggest fight both of them will ever have, money will play a part,” Hearn said. “There’s no point lying to the public and brush over the topic. We want this fight in the U.K., but there’s going to be offers from all around the world.”
The first decision belongs to Wilder, who must exercise his rematch clause. Wilder was dominated by Fury in the rematch, suffering two knockdowns before the referee stopped the bout when Wilder’s corner threw in the towel. Wilder blamed a heavy pre-fight costume he wore for draining his energy.
“The performance wasn’t good from Wilder and the excuses after were even worse,” Hearn said. “He’s got to look at himself and see if he’s capable of coming back. When Anthony Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz, he could have made 100 excuses. He didn’t make one. He shook his hand then went behind closed doors to build himself back up and won the rematch. We’re going to find out a lot about Deontay Wilder now. But I don’t think he’s good enough to beat Tyson Fury in a third fight.
“If they do rematch, I just hope they stick to the contract date of July because we want this fight in 2020 and no later,” Hearn added. “We’ll fight whoever is our mandatory in June and we’ll sign to fight the winner [between Fury-Joshua] now. But we don’t want to wait beyond 2020. Seize the moment.”
Hearn was in Texas, where three-division champion Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., will face former champion Jessie Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) of Los Angeles in a welterweight bout. DAZN will live stream the main event from The Star in Frisco, Texas. Garcia is fighting for the first time since losing a welterweight title shot against Errol Spence Jr. in March.
“This is going to be the fight that tells us if there’s a future for Mikey Garcia at 147 pounds,” Hearn said. “I believe his best weight is 140. But he’s very stubborn and determined he can do it.”