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Chaos Reigns Supreme in Heavyweight Title Picture

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On the eve of the scheduled WBC heavyweight title match purse bid, scheduled for January 21 and twice delayed before that, it’s still not clear who defending champ Tyson Fury will be facing next.

Interim champ Dillian Whyte has been the WBC’s mandatory challenger for something like 1,000 days already and the Mexico City-based sanctioning body finally ordered Fury to give Whyte his title shot. But things never seem to be that cut and clear in the world of Dillian Whyte and his title-challenge status.

The WBC ordered an 80-20 split of the money determined in the upcoming purse bid, something which flies in the face of the 55-45 split usually in place for champ vs. interim champ purse divisions. Whyte’s team reportedly aims to appeal this decision or, perhaps, take further legal action.

And while all that is happening, Fury is reportedly listening to offers from undisclosed Middle East investors for a unification bout with IBF/WBA/WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk, who wrested those belts from Anthony Joshua last September and was supposedly headed towards a direct rematch with the former champ.

Fury’s co-promoter Bob Arum isn’t even sure what’s going on.

“What’s happening is just promises coming out of the Middle East about doing a unified fight with Usyk and Fury, and is Dillian Whyte gonna step aside. And people that have absolutely no contractual ties– like Frank Warren’s Queensberry and our Top Rank do– are getting involved,” Arum told talkSPORT. “It’s a typical terrible kind of situation, but hopefully it’ll get sorted out and probably it will get sorted out with a purse bid on Friday…Who are these people in the Middle East? And what’s their backing and all of that stuff? That’s not clear. All I know is that the contract with Tyson Fury is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry and Top Rank…Nobody has talked to us about buying out rights or getting our permission to go ahead.”

More and more, however, it looks like the idea of Fury-Usyk is gaining steam. But, of course, making that fight would mean paying Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte– who are contractually tied to Usyk and Fury, respectively– some serious step-aside money.

According to The Sun newspaper in the UK, the step-aside payout for Joshua would come out to about $20.4 million in US dollars and $6.8 million for Whyte. That would come out to over $27.2 million (USD) invested into the fight before the actual combatants’ purses are even negotiated. So, who are these Middle East investors and exactly how much money do they have to burn in pursuit of this bout?

“There are people who would like to see Fury v Usyk for the undisputed title– and would be willing to pay a lot of money for it,” said Joshua’s and Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “If there is a lot of money in the pot, and a plan put in place to make all the fighters happy, then there is a chance it can happen. The problem is time. Conversations started a month ago, but they are very complex.”

Hearn feels that the purse bid set for Friday will be delayed once again as a stab is taken at clearing up this mess.

“But it’s not just about the money,” Hearn says. “It’s about the plan– AJ doesn’t want someone to come and give him money and saying ‘right, see you later mate.’ He wants to know what the actual plan is, and that’s the same with Dillian Whyte, he’s been waiting a long time and if he has to wait a couple of more months that’s OK, but how does it work?

“Right now, I still think the favorite is the two fights [Fury vs. Whyte, Joshua vs. Usyk 2], but we’ll see what happens…It’s all very complicated, and that’s why it’s taking such a long time.”

In the meantime, the fighters sit around, doing nothing.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com