ANTHONY JOSHUA’s WBO mandatory with Oleksandr Usyk is on the verge of being finalised, his promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed.
Negotiations over the fight began immediately after the collapse of Joshua’s proposed undisputed heavyweight title bout with Tyson Fury, which fell through after the WBC champ was ordered to face Deontay Wilder.
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A deal looked unlikely but is now on course to be finalised following productive talks between Hearn and Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk.
The Matchroom Boxing chief told talkSPORT: “I actually had a couple of calls with [his promoter] Alex Krassyuk this morning.
“Today is the day the WBO will order purse bids – that gives you another seven days before purse bids to make a deal.
“We are quite close now to making a deal with Oleksandr Usyk.”
Joshua was bitterly disappointed with the collapse of his long-awaited showdown with Fury, so much so he launched a blistering attack on The Gypsy King on social media.
But Hearn insists the unified heavyweight champ of the world is ‘over’ the pain of the legacy-defining fight slipping through his hands.
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He said: “AJ’s over that initial disappointment of the Fury fight falling out.
“He’s a very proud man, he loves to take on all challengers and the challenge of Usyk is a very dangerous one.
“It’s very likely you will see AJ vs Usyk at the back end of this summer.”
Hearn fought tooth and nail to secure a lucrative deal with the Saudis to stage the fight, which many thought wouldn’t be possible given the current global financial climate.
And the 41-year-old insists he did everything in his power to put on the biggest fight in the history of British boxing.
He said: “We never forgot about the arbitration, we were just lied to by Bob Arum and by Team Fury.
“We were told consistently by that side of the team – this arbitration will have absolutely no bearing on the AJ vs Fury fight.
“Everybody signed a contract to move forward with this fight.
“They then refused to help [with the site deal], ‘Eddie Hearn won’t deliver this fight, he can’t deliver this deal, who’s gonna pay for this in the middle of a pandemic?’
“So I went out with my travel bag all around the world and I signed an absolutely beautiful opportunity for Anthony Joshua – the opportunity of the Tyson Fury fight in Saudi Arabia.
“Both fighters absolutely delighted, over the moon with the offer, with the numbers, we’ve got it, it’s done.
“Tyson Fury comes out and says, ‘Deal’s done, spoke to Saudi Arabia, August 14.’
“And then the world comes crashing down.
“Do I feel like I’ve let fight fans down? Yeah, you can blame it on me I suppose.
“But at the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror and say, ‘I couldn’t have done any more.’”