Frank Warren exclusive – ‘We’ve signed an NDA with one country. Thrilla in Manila, Rumble in the Jungle, that’s what we’re talking about’

The Hall of Fame promoter suggested the recently-agreed mega fight between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua could be headed to parts unknown with all four heavyweight belts hoped to be on the line for the very first time.

Published: 11 June 2020 - 5.21pm
Boxing Tyson Fury

Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are set to clash in a mega-money heavyweight title clash next year, according to Frank Warren

The boxing world was set ablaze yesterday after WBC heavyweight king Tyson Fury confirmed an agreement to face three-belt world champion Anthony Joshua in an all-British super-fight in 2021.

In an Instagram video posted on Wednesday afternoon, a shirtless Fury thanked his management for negotiating the deal which is expected to see the two champions fight one another twice.

Between then and now however, both men face potential banana skins with Fury taking on Deontay Wilder for a third time while Anthony Joshua must defeat Bulgarian veteran Kubrat Pulev in defence of his WBO, WBA and IBF titles.

“What has been agreed is the framework,” Fury’s co-promoter Frank Warren told BT Sport exclusively on Thursday.

“A two-fight deal and the agreed split between the two fighters for the first and second fight.”

However the fight is far from delivered, Warren cautioned, with a number of larger issues yet to be finalised including the locations, broadcasters and dates.

Still, news of the agreement will be a relief to many fight fans who will not have to think too hard to remember the ill-tempered public negotiations between Joshua and Wilder that saw that fight slip away in recent years.

“Everybody is happy with the splits," Warren continued.

"All the parties wanted a two-deal, so we’ve done that. The rest of it? Of course there is going to be some toing and froing and so forth but that is not going to jeopardise the fight.

“Everybody, for once, is in agreement. Matchroom, ourselves, Top Rank, MTK, we’re all on the same page. We want it to work.”

50/50
Purse split for the first fight

If and when the fight does take place, it is likely to smash all records to become the biggest fight in British boxing history, eclipsing the likes of Joshua v Klitschko, Froch v Groves 2 – and even Bruno v Lewis.

Such intrigue around the fight has piqued the interest of venues around the globe and the race to host the bout is already well under way.

Representatives from four countries have been in contact, Warren revealed, with one even having signed a non-disclosure agreement to continue negotiations.

“I think this will be like going back to the days of [Muhammad] Ali v [George] Foreman; out of left-field [to host that fight] came Zaire. Who could ever have thought two Yanks would have gone to Zaire?” the 68-year-old said.

“I certainly hope Joshua isn't overlooking Pulev - Tyson is not overlooking anyone...”
- Frank Warren

“Thriller in Manila; the same thing for [Joe] Frazier and Ali. That’s the sort of things we’re talking about that is happening.

“People will say ‘why isn’t this happening in the UK?’ I want it to be. I’d love it to be at Wembley, it’s where it should be. But a fight of this magnitude and what is on the line for both boxers, it’s a massive opportunity for them to both capitalise [financially].

“Look at any other sport – Bale to Real Madrid, for example, he went off there. Beckham went off and played abroad. It’s no different to the boxers.

“The good thing is in the world that we have is that you can watch it on TV from anywhere in the world if it does take place abroad.”

Further details on the fight are unlikely to be confirmed until both Fury and Joshua have beaten their next opponents but Warren is wary of complacency given what is now at stake.

“I certainly hope Joshua isn’t overlooking Pulev. I know Tyson isn’t overlooking anything,” he continued.

“The problem for me with Joshua is his chin. If he gets clipped, we’ve seen it happen now in fights, he’s been wobbled in fights and knocked out by [Andy] Ruiz. Anybody who is fighting him knows he’s vulnerable and that’s my concern.”

Joshua had been set to face Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20 but the two will instead headline a show "planned for probably October or November", according to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ongoing global crisis has also cast Fury’s agreed trilogy bout against Wilder into the unknown, Warren admitted, but he remains in close dialogue with the Bronze Bomber's team.

“I speak to Shelley Finkel, his manager, nearly every day but there is nothing to discuss at the moment because we’re in the unfortunate position of not knowing when the lockdown is going to finish," he explained.

"I don’t see that fight happening before October or November.

“It’s contracted to take place in the States but obviously we’re in a unique situation here so we’ll see how it develops over the next few months.”

Despite so much uncertainty, excitement will already be beginning to mount at the prospect of two British heavyweights going toe-to-toe for all four world championship titles in the near future.

The winner will become the first ever unified heavyweight champion in the four-belt era; Britain’s Lennox Lewis, the last unified heavyweight champion, conquered the division before the WBO was recognized as the fourth major sanctioning body in 2007.

“Come the week of this fight, it will be like England in the World Cup in 1966, that’s how big it will be,” Warren added.

“Two British fighters with a tremendous rivalry between them, a tremendous rivalry between the two promoters, tremendous rivalry between the two TV stations in this country.

“The lineal champion in Tyson, who’s come back from where he’s been in the last few years. A WBC champion now who won it in the Wilder’s backyard in devastating fashion.

“Then you’ve got Anthony Joshua, a gold medallist in the Olympic Games who’s done everything that’s been asked of him. He got a blip on his record but he has rectified that now.

“This is huge. This is a huge, huge fight.”