DESPITE weeks of apparent negotiations and backroom talks, the heavyweight picture looks no clearer than it did at the end of 2021. What we do know is that, at the highest level of the division, there are four names circling each other; Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte.

From the moment Usyk’s hand was raised after his fight with Joshua in November of last year, it seemed almost inevitable that there would be a rematch. It was confirmed that, contractually, Joshua was owed one if he so wished, and we were told that was his intention.

Since then, dates and venues have been thrown around in the press but nothing concrete has been confirmed. For what it’s worth, Joshua told StuffTV this week that he’s “going to beat [Usyk] and I’m going to take those belts from him. I’m going to reign again to become three-time heavyweight champion of the world, whether people like it or not.”

Meanwhile, Whyte is waiting for his mandated shot at Fury from the WBC, but has been involved with a long-running dispute with the organisation. Plus, the WBC have postponed purse bids for the fight on numerous occasions (now scheduled for Tuesday this week, the day we go to press).

To make things more complicated, there’s still the chance – though it is slim – of Fury and Usyk meeting next in a superfight between the division’s top two. Bob Arum, who co-promotes Fury, spoke to talkSPORT this week about it all.

“It is total chaos,” he said.

“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… It’s a typical terrible kind of situation, but hopefully it’ll get sorted out.

“Who are these people in the Middle East? And what’s their [financial] backing and all of that stuff? That’s not clear.”

Not only would that offer from the Middle East need to cover the purses of Fury and Usyk, it would also need to help provide funds for both Joshua and Whyte to receive step-aside money.

If Usyk and Joshua are to resume hostilities, which seems likely, then Fury-Whyte is a more-than serviceable semi-final to run alongside it. At this stage, these two fights make the most sense, but this is boxing, where sense is in rarer supply than Gary Russell Jnr fights.

Of course, the WBC are seemingly doing everything they can to make things as difficult as possible.

Whyte remains in a legal battle with the sanctioning body and there are disputes over the mandated purse split. This is yet another example of these organisations hindering the sport and its fighters.

The sooner we move away from them and their rules – which appear to change according to the demands of the highest bidder – the better off boxing will be. The chances of Whyte and Fury coming to an agreement are surely much higher without the WBC involved.

BoxingScene received confirmation that the pay-per-view market in the US is still broken when the price for Keith Thurman vs Mario Barrios on FOX Sports was revealed. American fight fans will need to part with $74.95 in order to watch that fight.

That works out at roughly £55. That’s more than it cost to watch both Joshua-Usyk and Fury’s third fight with Deontay Wilder last year.

Who do they expect will pay that kind of money to watch what is essentially a comeback fight for Thurman, who few would still class as an elite welterweight? The PPV model in the US appears to be collapsing under its own weight.

There was some more positive news this week, a development that highlights boxing at its best, and once again it came from Nonito Donaire. At 39, the Filipino star is apparently seeking a rematch with Naoya Inoue.

The pair fought in a modern classic in 2019, with Inoue prevailing on points. Since then, they’ve both been successful, with Donaire in particular rolling back the years to remind us all he is still a force at bantamweight.

According to his promoter, Richard Schaefer, Donaire has his sights set firmly on Inoue.

He told BoxingScene: “This is definitely a fight we would love to do and Nonito would love to have it as well. We don’t have a problem going to Japan. Donaire has the balls to go into the lion’s den again. This is one of the biggest fights you can make in the sport.”

There aren’t many fighters actively seeking a fight with Inoue, and fewer still who are pushing the age of 40. Donaire is a true throwback, a fighter to enjoy and admire while we still can.


One of the best all-British fights that can be made right now – Anthony Yarde vs Joshua Buatsi – was a topic of discussion this week between the two men who could get it done; Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren.

Hearn told Pro Boxing Fans that he has sent a “very big offer” to Yarde and his team to fight Buatsi. Warren, in response, gave IFL what is one of the early frontrunners for boxing quote of the year: “[Hearn] did make an offer, but what he calls massive and what I call massive are two different things.”

Warren’s main point of contention is that Yarde now looks set to fight Joe Smith Jnr for a sanctioning body title, and would not pass that up to face Buatsi. He offered up Callum Johnson as an alternative, which suggests Johnson unfortunately will not get his crack at Smith Jnr after having to pull out of their agreed fight with COVID-19.

Bar the injustice for Johnson, there’s not too much to get upset about here; it’s a positive step that Hearn made an offer, and you can’t begrudge Yarde for choosing a chance to step back up to world level over a fight with Buatsi. It won’t be long before the demands for them to fight each other grow a lot louder, though.