The date for the first of two highly-anticipated fights between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury has been narrowed down to two possible options, according to Top Rank chief Bob Arum. Joshua and Fury have been tipped to meet each other in the ring for some time, with both camps eager to get the bouts made in order to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.
Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn has repeatedly claimed that a two-fight deal is in the works, with the aim of staging both events before the end of the year.
Negotiations are understood to be nearing completion with only a few minor details left to thrash out before an official announcement can be made.
The location of the first bout is yet to be decided but Saudi Arabia has emerged as the favourite, primarily as a result of its ability to offer a monumental fee for the privilege.
Another area of concern is the date, with Hearn previously revealing that a summer event would be targeted.
It has since emerged via the Daily Mirror that the first bout will take place on either June 26 or July 3, a development that was confirmed by Arum on Friday.
The 89-year-old, who is Fury’s promoter, told the Mirror that talks are progressing smoothly and that he expects the first fight to be signed and sealed imminently.
“We’re nearly there,” said Arum. “As far as I can ascertain, there are no issues separating the two sides. There has been consensus agreement in all issues.
“We hope very shortly that the fight will be signed. Then we will pick the site and we’ll be up and running.
“I’m looking towards late June or early July for the actual fight to take place.”
Saudi Arabia are reportedly prepared to offer Fury and Joshua around £72million each, with both fighters in line to take home more than £100m in total when additional fees are taken into account.
A number of other nations are also interested in hosting the bout, including Singapore, China and Dubai, while a Wembley showdown has long been ruled out in the name of money.
Boxing fans are generally split over the outcome, with both fighters recognised as the very best in the business for totally different reasons.
Joshua has gained a reputation as a big-punching knockout artist while Fury’s unpredictability and awkwardness makes him a formidable opponent for any heavyweight in the world.
The latter has looked virtually untouchable throughout his career with the exception of two brutal knockdowns against Deontay Wilder in 2018, both of which he recovered from to snatch a dramatic draw.
Former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko, who has been defeated by both fighters, revealed earlier this year that he is backing Joshua to claim the spoils despite the challenge posed by Fury.
“Joshua is a superior athlete, great fighter, Olympic champion,” said Klitschko. “Most importantly, he’s a great guy, who carries the torch of this image of a heavyweight champion perfectly.
“I’m proud to call him as a friend, even though we were [rivals]. And I think and I wish that eventually Joshua is going to unify all of the belts. That’s the eventual plan.”