Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury said on Instagram that a self-imposed 5 p.m. Monday deadline in the United Kingdom has passed without a signed contract returned from Anthony Joshua for a proposed Dec. 3 bout in Cardiff, Wales, and that he's now pulled the deal off the table.
Fury made the announcement in a video posted to his Instagram story after the deadline passed, saying: "Well, guys, it's official. D-day has come and gone. It's gone past 5 o'clock Monday. No contract has been signed."
For weeks, Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) and Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) have been engaged in talks, but few in the boxing industry said they believed the discussions would result in a deal. After all, Joshua is coming off two consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk, the most recent setback just last month.
Fury's public deadline for a complicated negotiation raised further eyebrows regarding the serious nature of the talks.
"There were various positive calls today between promoters and broadcasters who are all working hard to finalize the fight," Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, told ESPN on Monday. "There has been no talk of a deadline between the parties, but we are moving at pace to try and conclude the deal."
The sides agreed to a 60-40 split in favor of Fury weeks ago, but several obstacles remained for a bout that would be expected to generate nine figures in revenue. For one, the network issue would need to be solved. Fury is aligned with ESPN in the U.S. and BT Sport in the U.K.; Joshua is with DAZN.
The biggest issue of all, perhaps, was just how serious the sides were about the fight. Fury was expected to head into a fight with Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship after he called off an on-again, off-again retirement. "The Gypsy King" has insisted he must fight before the end of the year, while Usyk said he was recuperating from injuries and wouldn't be available until the spring.
Fury, who retained his WBC heavyweight title with a sixth-round TKO of Dillian Whyte in April, said on Instagram that he would fight fringe contender Manuel Charr if Joshua didn't sign by the deadline. Hearn said last week that he believed Fury was interested in a fight with Charr (33-4, 19 KOs) all along.
A bout with Charr, a 37-year-old German fighter, makes far more sense. Fury could stay busy with an easy win, in theory, while he waits for Usyk and the three belts the Ukrainian boxer offers. A matchup between Fury and Charr could take place on Fury's preferred date of Dec. 3 in the U.K.
"You've had the contract 10 days now," Fury, 34, said in an Instagram video directed at Joshua. "... Today's the drop-dead date. ... I'm not extending until tomorrow. If it ain't signed, I'm not going until tomorrow."
In his video after the deadline passed, Fury said, "It's officially over for Joshua -- he's now out in the cold."
Joshua, a 32-year-old Englishman, could look for a confidence-building win heading into 2023 now that the fight, one that was seemingly never real, appears to be dead.