Tyson Fury will face either Oleksandr Usyk in a fight for the undisputed heavyweight title next or defend his WBC crown against mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte.
Fury’s promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren have been pushing for Whyte to agree terms but simultaneously speaking to Anthony Joshua’s team about stepping aside so Fury can fight Usyk next.
An agreement for either fight is expected to be reached by Wednesday when the Fury v Whyte purse bids will take place.
Whyte is adamant he deserves more than a 20% cut of the fight revenue, the split ordered by the WBC, and purse bids for the fight have been postponed three times while talks continue.
Team Fury have become frustrated with the delays having already pencilled in Fury to fight on 26 March in Cardiff, and the offer to Joshua to step aside could pressure Whyte into agreeing terms.
Should purse bids take place, rival promoters will be able to bid to stage Fury v Whyte.
Eddie Hearn promotes Joshua and Whyte and is fielding step-side offers for Joshua as well as trying to finalise a deal for Whyte v Fury. Whyte’s ongoing dispute with the WBC has complicated matters, with the ‘Bodysnatcher’ furious at the time it has taken for him to be installed as mandatory challenger and the suggested purse split.
The WBC has a history of delaying mandatory challenger fights if a major bout is agreed – and a fight between Fury and Usyk for the undisputed title would certainly meet that criterion.
The Telegraph reported Joshua was open to accepting a £15m offer to step aside from his projected April fight date with Usyk to allow the Ukrainian to fight Fury in the Middle East.
Joshua activated his rematch clause with Usyk after he was beaten convincingly on points in September and has repeatedly insisted he is desperate to gain revenge and become a three-time heavyweight world champion.
Usyk holds the WBC (Super), WBO, and IBF titles while Fury is the WBC and Ring magazine heavyweight champion.
Joshua’s step-aside agreement would probably include a promise that he could fight the winner of Fury v Usyk later in the year.
The WBC delayed the Fury v Whyte purse bids until Wednesday and one of two deals is likely to be struck by then. It will be announced that either Joshua has accepted a step-aside offer or Whyte v Fury will go ahead.
Joshua is currently in an excellent position. The two-time unified heavyweight champion is backing himself to beat Usyk in a rematch and has long chased an undisputed heavyweight fight.
The 32-year-old could accept the step-aside offer, giving him more time to improve his game before an undisputed fight, or he could push ahead with his original plan to fight Usyk in April and then pursue a fight with Fury should both men win their next bouts.
Joshua is poised to announce changes to his coaching team, but there is yet to be any official word on whether the British fighter will stick with his long-time coach Rob McCracken.