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Top Rank’s Todd duBoef sees path to Fury vs Joshua in 2021

The Top Rank President sees the demand and the way to get there, but knows it won’t come easy.

Michael Conlan Press Conference Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Top Rank President Todd duBoef said about a month ago that he didn’t see a path to an undisputed heavyweight championship fight between Tyson Fury (WBC/LINEAL!!!!!) and Anthony Joshua (WBA/IBF/WBO), but that was about doing it right away.

As for doing it in 2021, duBoef tells Sky Sports that there is a clear path there, but it’s not a gimme for either man:

“The easiest scenario for all of us to get to, is let Joshua hopefully, if he can get past Pulev, who is going to be a tough mandatory fight for him, and let’s have Tyson get in the ring back with Wilder, and then sets up the semi-finals for the finals, for the big Super Bowl, the big UEFA championship match between Joshua and Fury. That to me is the cleanest way and probably the easiest way, where everybody lives up to their commitments. That would be obviously the preference, in order of bouts, in the most simple way.”

It actually might become a bit more complicated than just that, too.

Joshua (23-1, 21 KO) has IBF mandatory Pulev up next, at some point, and Pulev is very clear that he will not step aside for anything. If Joshua beats Pulev, he then might have to deal with a WBO mandatory challenger against Oleksandr Usyk. Usyk is currently waiting to find out when exactly he’ll be fighting Derek Chisora. If Usyk wins, his status as mandatory challenger will hold, and he and his team have repeatedly stated they’re not looking to spend a lot of time waiting on the shot. The WBO and Usyk’s team could force the situation.

And yes, Joshua could in theory vacate the WBO belt and still fight Fury or someone else, but then you don’t get to call it “undisputed” anymore, and that’s the biggest selling point of trying to navigate all of this and get Fury-Joshua as soon as possible. It’s the thing that can take it from a really big fight to a mega fight.

As for Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO), he owes Deontay Wilder that third fight, as Wilder has exercised the rematch clause and fully intends to take the bout. Getting that in in 2020 might be tough; it’ll need a gate to help offset the purses, and getting fans into venues is going to take time perhaps well beyond just getting some fights going again. Bob Arum has repeatedly discussed the difficulties in doing a fight of that magnitude without a live audience, and the concerns are valid, it’s not just promoter talk.

Plus, if Fury beats Wilder again, he’s got a WBC mandatory, too, in Dillian Whyte, at least in theory. Whyte is set to face Alexander Povetkin sometime this summer, that fight having been moved off both May 2 and July 4 dates already, and Povetkin is no easy win on paper. If Whyte does win, he’d maintain mandatory status. But maybe duBoef is right to forget about that, given how long the WBC have played around with actually giving Whyte a shot he felt he’d earned a couple years ago. They’ve said early 2021 for him, but they’ve said a lot of things.

There is a path to Fury-Joshua, but there’s also a chance that the very earliest it could get done — with all of the belts on the line for an undisputed fight — is late 2021, after other obligations are taken care of, and if both guys keep winning their fights. And that’s without knowing what further waves of COVID-19 may do to the sports calendar in the coming months or next couple of years, even.

Bottom line, it’s interesting to consider, but don’t get your hopes up for this any time in the immediate future.

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