Anthony Joshua in war of words with Tyson Fury over Deontay Wilder rematch

Tyson Fury to fight Deontay Wilder this July with Anthony Joshua bout rescheduled - PA
Tyson Fury to fight Deontay Wilder this July with Anthony Joshua bout rescheduled - PA

Anthony Joshua and British rival Tyson Fury were engaged in a bitter war of words on Wednesday evening after it appeared their proposed heavyweight showdown in Saudi Arabia in August would be postponed.

Fury has suggested he has no alternative but to face Deontay Wilder for a third time after an arbitration hearing in the US sided with the American fighter’s claim that the “trilogy” contest is a contractual obligation.

Joshua said Fury was trying to back out of their eagerly-awaited contest, which would have unified all of the belts in the division, while Fury suggested they should settle their differences with a bare-knuckle contest.

“Tyson Fury ... the world now sees you for the fraud you are,” said Joshua. “You’ve let boxing down.

“You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout not a fight. Bring me any championship fighter who can handle their business correctly.”

His outburst provoked an immediate response from Fury, who effectively confirmed the Saudi bout just hours before the seemingly unexpected US ruling this week.

 Tyson Fury goes 7 rounds with Deontay Wilder - Getty Images
Tyson Fury goes 7 rounds with Deontay Wilder - Getty Images

“Spouting absolute s----” Fury railed last night. “Your full team knew there was an arbitration going on, it was out of my hands.

“But I tell you what if I’m a fraud let’s fight this weekend bare knuckles till 1 man quits? Let’s put up 20 mill each.”

Joshua in turn questioned why Fury would announce they were fighting if the arbitration was in process. “If there was an arbitration going on, why announce to the world we are fighting,” he asked. “The fight was signed, undisputed..

“Bare knuckle? You’re a good kid, don’t play with me Luke! I’ll slap your bald head and you’ll do nothing,” which elicited another barb from Fury. “I’ll smoke Wilder first,” he said, “then you will get yours as well.”

Fight promoter Bob Arum has reserved the 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders NFL team, for the potential contest between Fury and Wilder.

It had been suggested that the judge’s order would result in financial negotiations to remove Wilder from the equation, clearing the way for Fury to take on Joshua. It now appears Wilder is keen on a lucrative third match-up with Fury, who stopped him in the seventh round of a torrid fight in their last encounter. Their first contest was drawn.

Malik Scott, Wilder’s vastly experienced new trainer, said of his fighter: “He wants the blood, not that step-away money. Retribution is upon us.”

Fury’s backroom staff have been asked to “get to Vegas” as a deal for the World Boxing Council championship bout appears close to being signed.

Joshua, meanwhile, is now set to face a mandatory challenger for his World Boxing Organisation belt: Oleksandr Usyk, the former undisputed world cruiserweight champion. Usyk’s team are already in talks with Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, for a fight that could take place in Britain or the United States.