“I’ve always felt that, commercially, Anthony Joshua is on another planet to Tyson Fury,” Eddie Hearn said while also stressing that Britain’s two world champion heavyweights will agree to a 50-50 split of a huge purse should their planned unification fight happen next year. Hearn promotes Joshua and, during a media conference call, he inevitably set about boosting his fighter’s economic credentials before agreeing that Fury’s achievements in the ring mean that they deserve to share the proceeds.
“You’ve only got to look at AJ’s endorsement deals and the money he makes,” Hearn said. “The reason that Tyson Fury couldn’t fight in December is that they couldn’t generate the pay-per-view money or the American TV money that AJ can. But Tyson Fury is still a huge star and if you don’t offer him 50/50 then he ain’t going to take it. Do I think he should get 50/50? Commercially, no. But achievement-wise and on recent performances? Yeah, I do.”
Joshua defends his IBF, WBA and WBO world titles against Kubrat Pulev at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night. Pulev is a decent fighter, and one of boxing’s proverbial tough nuts, but Joshua is backed so heavily that momentum for a definitive showdown against Fury continues to build. Fury became the WBC champion after his crushing stoppage of Deontay Wilder in February.
“Our job over the next couple of weeks is to get that [unification] fight in place,” Hearn said. “If AJ beats Pulev, we want to go to the governing bodies and say: ‘Deal agreed, contracts signed and this is the proposed date. Will you sanction it as an undisputed fight?’”
Hearn was unequivocal that calls for the fight to be held in London need to be balanced by hard-nosed economic realities. After Joshua spoke last week about his possible willingness to accept a reduced purse to fight Fury in Britain, Hearn said: “I’m more brutally honest. We’ll discuss with both management teams the opportunities that are out there in terms of site fees and money in the pot. AJ has consistently earned a lot of money and will he care less about the number in the pot than Fury? Probably. But he’s not going to do it for half the money because it sounds nice. His team is going to make the right decision for his career.”
The promoter suggested that “everybody” in the two camps “would prefer the fight to take place in London”.
He added: “ But we have to rely on revenue generated via the gate and not the revenue generated by a tourism board or by a government to bring an event like that to another country. It will probably be a 50% pay cut to do the fight in the UK and that’s how brutal it is.”
Hearn suggested the ideal time to stage the fight would be “the end of May”. But it is unclear whether the vaccine against Covid-19 will have been introduced successfully in the UK by then while, in the Middle East, which remains the probable location, Hearn pointed out that “you have Ramadan from April to early May.”
He was asked what he would do if, in an unlikely scenario, both boxers insisted that they fight in the UK. “We do it in a heartbeat. But it’s not how it works in sport and especially not in the fight game. And it shouldn’t. Everyone says Daniel Dubois quit, that he’s got no heart [after the young British heavyweight suffered a serious eye injury and chose not to continue against Joe Joyce last month]. The other argument is: ‘Actually, he could have lost his eyesight in there.’ You’re basically saying the fighter should put his health on the line without getting the maximum reward financially for that risk. If it’s close, if it’s marginal, all day long do it in the UK. But half the money shouldn’t even be considered.”
Hearn believes a Fury-Joshua bout would generate sufficient interest to result in a rematch. “One of those fights, in my opinion, must take place in the UK,” he said. “But, particularly the first fight, both teams will say to me: ‘Show us how this fight works, show us the finances.’ I’ll present every option to them.”
Before then Joshua needs to beat Pulev in front of British boxing’s first crowd of the pandemic. One thousand fans will be allowed into the arena and Hearn said he is “excited but nervous” about both the event and Saturday’s headline fight. “If anything goes wrong it affects boxing moving forward. Listen, I’m nervous about the fight. We have never seen AJ box in an environment like this – but I actually think it could suit him. But it’s all the unknown.”
Book and watch Anthony Joshua against Kubrat Pulev on December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office