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Countdown conundrum

By MURRAY GREIG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-29 09:20
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WBC lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, pictured (left) facing off against Deontay Wilder, could face Dillian Whyte before his superfight with WBA, IBF and WBO titleholder Anthony Joshua. AFP

Plenty of uncertainties face Fury and Joshua en route to agreed superfight

The proposed "Brawl for it All"-a heavyweight superfight between British rivals Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua to determine an undisputed world champion-is more than a year away, but the machinations have already started.

On June 10, WBC lineal champ Fury announced on social media that an agreement had been reached for a showdown against WBA, IBF and WBO titleholder Joshua late next summer-though the exact date and venue have not been finalized.

This week, the WBC said it is considering a request from Fury's promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, to elevate the 6-foot-9 Fury to the status of something called "franchise champion", in order to circumvent a February title defense against mandatory challenger and fellow Englishman Dillian Whyte.

According to the WBC charter, "franchise champion" is an honorary title the sanctioning body can bestow on a current world titleholder who is also "an elite boxer who has achieved and maintains the highest of statures in the sport".

The designation affords the recipient special privileges when it comes to mandatory obligations and even if he loses a fight, he retains "franchise champion" status.

Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) is also in line for a third bout with former champ Deontay Wilder of the US, but fighting either Whyte or Wilder could jeopardize the massive payday he will be guaranteed to face Joshua.

If the WBC makes Fury its "franchise champion", Whyte (27-1, 18 KOs), who became mandatory challenger last July with a unanimous decision over Oscar Rivas, would be handed the regular title without having to fight for it.

The WBC won't likely turn down Arum's request because there's too much money at stake, but if the sanctioning body insists on Fury fighting Whyte in February, the "Gypsy King" could choose to simply vacate the crown.

Earlier this week, promoter Eddie Hearn, who handles both Joshua and Whyte, told YouTube channel Boxing Social: "We don't want the WBC to make Fury a 'franchise champion'. Let him take care of his mandatory, just like Joshua will take care of his.

"Dillian doesn't want to be elevated from 'interim' champ and just be handed the belt. He wants to fight Fury for it. In my opinion, Whyte actually has to take priority over Joshua to get that shot. We will do everything we can to deliver that."

Joshua was due to face IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev of Russia in London this summer before the fight was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk is the No 1 challenger for the WBO crown, and his promoter, Alexander Krassyuk, told Sky Sports: "Usyk's WBO mandatory was supposed to happen before AJ versus Pulev, but we are flexible and did not put much pressure on, allowing AJ to complete his IBF mandatory while Usyk fights Dereck Chisora.

"But this agreement was made with regards that the WBO champ has to make his mandatory versus Usyk. It means that either Joshua fights Usyk first or he fights Fury without the WBO belt."

PUNCH LINES: Disgruntled UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones is the latest name being thrown into the mix to face former undisputed world heavyweight champ Mike Tyson in an exhibition bout.

The 32-year-old Jones, currently involved in a bitter pay dispute with UFC boss Dana White, took to Twitter this week to say he's "listening" after Tyson, 53, said during an Instagram Live session that "Jon Jones gotta fight me to make some super money".

The UFC superstar continued the dialogue on Instagram, adding: "Mike, I'll box you in the ring if you promise to give me a real fight in the Octagon afterward. And because I respect you so much, I promise not to break anything on you."

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