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Anthony Joshua is beginning to think that his unification bout with Tyson Fury “will never happen” after talks collapsed earlier this year.
That’s the view of his promoter Eddie Hearn, who is a little more optimistic that the two sides will eventually come to an agreement.
The two Brits were locked in talks for months on end, with the understanding that confirmation was close.
However, at the 11th hour, a court of arbitration ruled that Fury must honour his rematch clause with Deontay Wilder.
That has ended any hopes of a fight that would crown the first undisputed heavyweight champ since Lennox Lewis.
Anthony Joshua accused Tyson Fury of lying to boxing fans after talks collapsed
(Image: Getty Images)
And Hearn believes Joshua now has serious reservations as to whether the Gypsy King will ever step in the ring with him.
"AJ never felt they wanted the fight, he never felt like Fury wanted it," Hearn told BBC Sport.
"I think AJ, in his head, probably thinks the fight will never happen. I would like to be more hopeful and I think it will happen."
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AJ is set to turn his attention towards WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk, with hopes the two will come face-to-face at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in September.
"If AJ knocks out Usyk and Fury knocks out Wilder then in four months we are talking about an even bigger fight," added Hearn.
"One could lose or look bad but I do get the feeling if they both win then the fight is huge. I am hoping it works out for the best.
"AJ knows how good Usyk is but he wants to do a job on him because he also knows people are unsure about him winning the fight and I think he likes that.
"He has done four weeks of southpaw sparring up in Sheffield and he is gearing himself up for a big fight. We just hope that everywhere is open because we want to do 60-70,000 at Spurs."
Eddie Hearn wants AJ to keep his full focus on Usyk and avoid any potential slip ups
Who would win in a bout between Joshua and Fury? Let us know in the comments
Hearn hopes that once Joshua has beaten Usyk and Fury completes his trilogy with Wilder, that negotiations can continue.
He has made it clear however, that AJ is fully focused on Usyk as he looks to avoid the kind of costly defeat he suffered against Andy Ruiz Jr two years ago.
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"Once those two nights are complete, let's go back to where we kicked off before, because right now, there's no conversations from the other side to us saying, 'Let's just get it in the diary for December or January.'
“I don't really want to get into that conversation. I want AJ to focus on conversation. I want AJ to focus on Oleksandr Usyk.
"Any work that takes place will go on behind closed doors, but we can't make the same mistake that we made against Andy Ruiz, which was, 'We just want Wilder, we just want Wilder.'"