Arbitrator's ruling casts doubt on Britain's biggest boxing matchup
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In what would likely be the biggest (and most lucrative) fight in British boxing history, Anthony Joshua, the current IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion, is currently scheduled to fight Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia this August. However, an obstacle has appeared as a US arbitrator ruled that Fury has a contractual obligation to have a rematch with American fighter Deontay Wilder. Fury and Wilder have fought twice before, with the first bout ending in a draw and Fury winning their second meeting in February 2020.
The contract for Fury and Wilder's second fight reportedly contained an automatic rematch clause, which the loser of the fight could activate and demand an automatic rematch. Wilder originally invoked this clause in April 2020, but the scheduled rematch was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic and negotiations to reschedule it fell through. Fury and Joshua then entered into negotiations of their own, and had announced a bout between them, to be scheduled in August 2021. Reports circulated that the fighters could each earn anywhere between £50-75 million for the fight.
The arbitrator decided that Wilder was still owed his rematch with Fury, and that the fight must take place by September 15th, 2021. This likely scuppers a Fury-Joshua fight in August. While Fury vs. Wilder would likely still be a substantial pay day for both fighters involved, it would not be nearly as profitable as a fight between Joshua and Fury.
What happens next
Given the amount of money involved, a settlement may be reached with Wilder to allow the Fury-Joshua fight to go ahead unimpeded. Often referred to as a "step aside fee" where Wilder would receive compensation from Fury to release Fury from his obligation to rematch Wilder. Negotiations between Wilder and Fury's respective management teams are already likely underway, but with Wilder no doubt aware of how much the Joshua-Fury match up is worth, it could take a significant sum to have him step aside. On the other hand, Wilder may decide he would rather have the trilogy match with Fury, which would mean a Fury-Joshua super fight is off - at least for now.
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