The two next heavyweight title fights could be brought to Dubai or Saudi Arabia as promoter Eddie Hearn met with officials in the Middle East this week for ‘site deal’ talks
Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk could take place in the Middle East, as well as Tyson Furys title defence against Dillian Whyte.
Promoter Eddie Hearn, who takes care of Joshua and Whyte, was in Dubai this week to meet with potential hosts for the fights, and even met with Usyk at a promotional event.
And he has said that while he expects one or both of the events to take place in the United Kingdom, there is a chance that they could land in Saudi Arabia or Dubai.
Joshua’s rematch with Andy Ruiz took place in Riyadh, while Dubai has hosted a number of big events this year including Carl Frampton’s retirement fight against Jamel Herring.
And Hearn has said that he was in the Middle East this week to discuss the possibility of putting on another big heavyweight title clash in the region.
“This week we’re getting ready to have discussions in different countries about a few upcoming heavyweight contests,” Hearn told iFL TV at an event in Dubai.
“I found myself in the Middle East – I’m going to be here and then go back to Manchester for a massive end to the year.
“We have to do our work now across this territory to look at potential site deals for AJ-Usyk and Fury against Whyte and all kinds of different heavyweight fights.
“Obviously Prince Khalid is here as well so that’s the predominant reason for my trip – it was good to see Oleksandr Usyk who’s very chilled and getting ready for talks to progress regarding an Anthony Joshua rematch.”
There now appears to be no chance that Fury’s team will be able to sort out a step aside deal to get Joshua to forego his fight with Usyk to allow an undisputed title fight to take place.
And it is now up to Hearn and Fury’s team of Bob Arum and Frank Warren to come to terms on a fair split between Fury and Whyte for their mandatory WBC title fight that is expected to take place in late February or early March of next year.
“The news that the WBC were ordering the Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte fight kind of put the end to the step aside discussion,” Hearn continued.
“Unless that evolves over the next week or so, which doesn’t look to be the case.
“Right now it looks very likely that the two fights will be in play between Whyte and Fury and Joshua and Usyk.
“Obviously on one hand we have a situation where we have Dillian Whyte fighting Tyson Fury, there’s negotiations that have been ordered now and that could go to a purse bid.
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“Then there’s Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk where we have to work collectively with K2 to ensure that we deliver the best opportunity for the fighters.
“We’ll have meetings here [in Dubai] and other countries in the Middle East to look at the potential for where those fights may take place.”
However, Hearn accepts that there is a “good chance” that one or both of the title fights ends up in the UK, with Fury’s team having expressed interest in a homecoming bout in either Manchester or Cardiff.
Joshua vs Usyk, which was originally held in London, would be the more likely bout to land in the Middle East, given Hearn’s existing relationship with Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia.
“We’re here because we have to do our work,” Hearn explained. “We have to speak to many different countries that are going to be making offers to stage big heavyweight fights.
“That’s our job, we have to do it on behalf of the fighters, but Fury against Whyte that could be at Millenium Stadium or whatever.
“Then AJ against Usyk could be back at Spurs or Wembley – very good chance that will be the location for those two fights.”