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Saudi Arabia the short-priced favourite to host Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury bout

Promoter Eddie Hearn has indicated that Saudi Arabia is in the box seat to host the first of two fights between WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 24-1 (22) and WBC counterpart Tyson Fury 30-0-1 (21) this year.

Earlier this month the British rivals signed contracts for a two-fight series year with a clause stating that the venue for the first fight in the summer would need to be confirmed within 30 days.

Numerous countries have entered the race to secure the rights to the first fight, including Dubai, Qatar, Singapore, China, and America.

But the Matchroom Boxing boss has given the clearest hint yet that the four-belt unification bout will head to Saudi Arabia, where Joshua scored a revenge win over sole conqueror Andy Ruiz Jr 15 months ago.

“We had a great experience there back in December 2019, with Anthony Joshua against Andy Ruiz, so they are players that we know are for real,” Hearn told Sky Sport.

“That sort of cuts out a lot of the timeframe in terms of going to all these various meetings. We’ve been through the process with them. They gave us their word on what they would deliver and they did that. It was a fantastic event.

“When we did Anthony Joshua against Andy Ruiz II. That was really with the mindset with them of doing the undisputed fight, so they are absolutely keen to secure this fight.

“Obviously there are two versions of it, so June, July in the Middle East is very warm. Most people would prefer it to be a little bit later, but that’s not what’s on the table. We want two fights this year and the first one will be in the summer.”

While Hearn has not entirely ruled out the fight taking place in the UK, it seems increasingly unlikely the fight will land there with no guarantee that crowds will be allowed in attendance due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

“There have been some conversations about it as we see the Euros potentially going into Wembley in June, July. Can we be a part of that at the back end of it? Could we get 100,000 at Wembley?” Hearn asked.

“We would need to, to even have that conversation. There are a few conversations going on behind the scenes, with regards to that, but certainly, financially all the big offers have come in from the Middle East, the Far East, and other countries, so next week is all about going to have those meetings.

“The next three weeks really is the timeframe where we want to make sure it’s signed and announced.”

The 31-year-old Joshua was last in action in December when he stopped IBF mandatory contender Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds.

Fury, 32, has not fought since knocking out Deontay Wilder in seven frames in February last year.

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