By David Charlesworth, PA
Anthony Joshua faces the distinct possibility of being without trainer Rob McCracken against Tyson Fury as the much-anticipated all-British heavyweight showdown looks set to clash with this summer’s Olympics.
Eddie Hearn revealed the contest between two fighters who hold all four major world titles – Joshua is the WBA, IBF and WBO champion while Fury holds the WBC crown – is inching towards being announced for late July or early August.
That would place McCracken’s involvement in Joshua’s corner on fight night in significant doubt as GB Boxing’s performance director is scheduled to be in Japan between July 23 and August 8 for the rearranged Tokyo Games.
But Hearn insisted the blockbuster bout coinciding with McCracken’s Olympic duties presents no barrier, leaving the well-renowned coach with a potential tricky choice to make. The PA news agency has contacted GB Boxing for comment.
“I know Rob takes his position very seriously,” Hearn said. “He loves the job and the kids so it’s not ideal but we can’t move it a couple of weeks either side. Someone is spending a lot of money so we have to go whenever they say.
“We haven’t finalised an exact date, July 24 is the rough date but it may leak into early August but no later than that. It’s impossible to schedule anything without clashing with something.
“I know AJ and Rob have been talking accordingly so I am sure they will work it out.
“The date we get given is when the fight takes place and the guys know it will be around the Olympics, it could be inappropriate but it is the biggest fight in boxing and the biggest moment in AJ’s career. We have to work it out.”
McCracken oversaw Joshua’s gold medal win at London 2012 and then joined him in the professional ranks four years later ahead of the Watford fighter’s ultimately successful second defence of his IBF title against Eric Molina.
While the pair have enjoyed immense success together, McCracken came in for criticism when Joshua was beaten for the first time in the paid ranks by Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019.
Joshua, though, was steadfast in his defence of his mentor and regained his world titles six months later in an immediate rematch in Saudi Arabia, which is the frontrunner to stage his fight against Fury at an indoor arena in front of 20,000 fans.
“We all know now that both sides have paid the contract, they have both accepted one specific proposal and we are finalising that with contracts going backwards and forwards and tiny, tiny points getting ironed out,” Hearn said.
“The Olympics will be a different time zone so it’s not really in the mindset. (The fight) will be peak time UK, middle of the night in Tokyo, there will not be a TV clash.”
One possible obstacle in unification fights in the past has been who walks to the ring last, which is usually reserved for world champions. With Joshua and Fury both titlists, Hearn believes he has a novel solution.
“You will see,” Hearn added. “Maybe they will walk at the same time. It would be unique. From different sides of the arena. That would solve a problem.
“They both want to get the fight on. In the world today, people are more willing to be accepting and understanding and rather than muck about with it, let’s just get this done. I don’t think we will have any problems.
“The walk in at the same time is genuinely something I have thought about as a spectacle rather than a contractual issue.”