With their fight in the balance, world heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are trading blows on social media instead of the ring.
There was a back and forth between the English boxers over Twitter on Wednesday, prompted by Joshua calling Fury a “fraud” because his rival might have to pull out of their Aug. 14 fight in Saudi Arabia following an unexpected ruling in the United States.
An arbitrator has ruled that Fury is contractually bound to fulfil a third fight with Deontay Wilder, and that it has to take place by Sept. 15.
“You’ve let boxing down!” Joshua wrote directly to Fury. “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.”
Fury responded with an expletive-laden post, saying the arbitration was “out of my hands” and that Joshua knew it was going on in the background.
“But I tell you what,” Fury said, “if I’m a fraud let’s fight this weekend bare knuckles till 1 man quits? Let’s put up 20 mill each!!!”
Joshua then questioned why Fury would announce they were fighting — he did so in a video on Twitter on Sunday — if the arbitration was in process.
“If there was an arbitration going on, why announce to the world we are fighting!” Joshua said. “The fight was signed! UNDISPUTED.”
Fury replied that he would not go into the details of the arbitration over Twitter, and said: “I’ll smoke wilder first then you will get yours aswell.”
Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has given Fury’s camp a deadline of the end of this week to salvage the fight. However, the prospect of it going ahead appears increasingly bleak.
Hearn is already looking into securing an alternative opponent for Joshua. That could be Oleksandr Usyk, the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt.
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80