By: Sean Crose
As if boxing isn’t in a strange enough place at the moment. As if the Paul brothers, and former greats taking up all the oxygen in the room isn’t enough – there is the news that the much anticipated Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury heavyweight title fight is now Dead Before Arrival. Of course there will be those, some directly involved, who will claim this is not the case. Who knows what the truth is, but the dream fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world looks like it might be slipping away at this point – if it hasn’t already.
What makes this possibly phantom fight so frustrating is the fact both fighters actually seemed to want to make it. This didn’t seem like one of those “he needs to understand how little he’s worth,” scenarios which plague the modern the fight game. Neither fighter is making the kind of sad “he needs to wait his turn” excuse this time around. No, unless one or both men are fooling the public, both Fury and Joshua are ready, willing and able to get in the ring in order to see who the king of the heavyweight division is. Sadly, the world may well continue to not know, at least not during this spring or summer.
The question, of course, is how did things actually manage to come to this? In truth, it appears that the fight – incredible though it may seem – may actually be too big to be made at this point. For, to pay everyone what they argue their worth, or at least what they think they can get out the fight, appears to be a herculean task. Money has to be presented upfront. Money that is apparently harder to come by than it seems. Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn appears to be arguing that these things take time, while Fury promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren appear to be arguing that no fight is worth taking this much time to get off the ground.
Some might intelligently argue that Dana White’s UFC doesn’t have this problem because the organization doesn’t deal in truly exorbitant amounts of money. The truth, though, is that the UFC might be guilty of not paying its stars nearly as much as it should. This is the fight business, after all, one where athletes can easily be hurt or killed. Perhaps this Joshua-Fury mess has to do with money, though, perhaps it has to do with the endless small details that can lead to an event like this dying from a thousand cuts.
No matter which way this situation is looked at, it certainly isn’t presenting a good look for contemporary boxing.