Top Rank promoter Bob Arum turned the Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua fight negotiating drama up a notch on Thursday when he referred to the discussed blockbuster boxing match for this summer as "dead in the water."
It happened as Arum, who co-promotes Fury in the United States, told the UK's Telegraph that talks with the fight's Saudi Arabian hosts "will take months" or more to resolve and Fury and Joshua will have to take other opponents in the meantime.
However, sources told ESPN's Mark Kriegel on Thursday that Fury-Joshua fight negotiations are still "inching forward." The Saudi hosts are on board to pay the proposed site fee of $150 million to stage the megafight and documents are currently being sent back and forth, the sources said.
The Fury-Joshua deal is for two fights, but Saudi Arabia is only involved with the planned first bout, the sources said.
Arum told the Telegraph that it's not just the site fee at play, but "ancillary demands from the Saudis stretching into the broadcast deals and other things."
"It could even take until 2022 the way it looks right now," said Arum.
Meanwhile, Joshua's promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, has repeatedly said that Fury vs. Joshua is a "done deal."
He reiterated that on Thursday. Asked if fight talks between the camps of Fury and Joshua had stalled, he said, "There are no delays."
"It's just the wording of a long-form agreement," Hearn continued, as told to IFL-TV. "It's quite complicated. You've got to remember that there are lawyers from our side, lawyers from AJ's side, lawyers from Tyson Fury's side, about three of them. Everybody wants the deal to be right."
Arum had told BoxingScene earlier in the week that the last time he talked to Hearn "was early last week" and he called discussions to finalize a signed agreement with the Saudi Arabian hosts "a little late."
"Wouldn't you be pessimistic if you haven't heard from him or anybody for a week?" Arum asked in the BoxingScene interview. "We're the promoter with Frank (Warren) of Fury and we haven't heard from Eddie in a week."
Fury (30-0-1) is the lineal boxing heavyweight champion. The 32-year-old has not fought since a seventh-round TKO of Deontay Wilder in February 2020. Joshua (24-1) has won two straight after losing the first fight of his career to Andy Ruiz in June 2019. Joshua, 31, holds the WBA Super, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles.