Despite being assured for months that a fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder has been locked in, boxing fans have grown increasingly sceptical that the monster clash, which has been repeatedly tipped to land in Saudi Arabia, is actually going to happen.
And those fears have now been confirmed by Matchroom CEO Frank Smith, who seemed to put the final nail in the coffin for the fight this week.
In an interview with Boxing Social, Smith cited a change of the guard in terms of boxing in Saudi Arabia as the main reason for the collapse in the fight as it was.
“We had discussions for a long time with Skill Challenge, but I think right now it’s looking unlikely that conversations will continue with them to make that fight.”
“I still believe that all parties want to make that fight, in terms of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder … But I don’t think the discussions with Skill Challenge are going to go any further.”
“We now have to focus on getting Anthony Joshua busy, keeping the momentum going and hopefully we will have some news soon.”
Eddie Hearn then told Boxing Social that the terms were agreed, and, at the moment, he was unsure if a formal contract stage would ever be reached. He confirmed that both fighters still wanted, and that it had the potential to land in Las Vegas in the future.
The new boxing entity in the region is responsible for staging Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou this October. It’s unclear if Skill Challenge – who have signed the division’s other champion Oleksandr Usyk – will continue to operate and attempt to stage big events.
Boxing fans went into overdrive earlier this year when Skill Challenge spoke of their desire to stage Joshua vs Wilder on the same night as an undisputed clash between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.
This was always viewed by some as wishful thinking, and it now looks unclear whether either bout will be put together any time soon.
Joshua’s next opponent is a mystery at this stage, though the former unified world heavyweight champion is expected to be back in the ring in December should the Wilder find not be able to find a home.