The fate of a proposed heavyweight unification match between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua could be greatly determined in the next two days.
In a letter to Joshua's promoter Eddie Hearn on Wednesday, the WBO ordered Hearn to "show cause" within 48 hours why the sanctioning body should not force Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) to enter negotiations for his next WBO title defense against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk -- essentially, demanding proof of a Joshua-Fury fight this summer.
The WBO's letter comes in the wake of an arbitration ruling earlier this week stating that Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) must face Deontay Wilder in a trilogy fight no later than Sept. 15.
Shortly after the WBO made its demands of Joshua known, the Watford, England, native took to social media to seemingly blame Fury for allowing the long-negotiated bout to fall apart.
"Tyson Fury, the world now sees you for the fraud you are," Joshua wrote on Twitter. "You've let boxing down! You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout not a fight. Bring me a championship fighter who can handle their business correctly."
Fury, who is co-promoted by Bob Arum, immediately responded on his own Twitter account: "your more full of s--- that Eddie, Spouting absolute [s---]! your full team knew there was an Arbitration going on, it was out of my hands! but i tell you what if i'm a fraud let's fight this weekend bare knuckles till 1 man quits? let's put up 20 mill each!!"
Hearn's Matchroom Boxing and Arum's Top Rank have been working on a potential heavyweight showdown between Joshua and Fury, of Manchester, England, for months. Recently, Fury basically announced the fight deal was done, with the fight set to take place Aug. 14 in Saudi Arabia.
The arbitrator's ruling in favor of Wilder, who lost to Fury via knockout in February 2020, threw an obvious wrench into that announced plan. Fury and Wilder fought to a split draw in 2018, and their second fight included a clause that guaranteed the loser a third fight. Top Rank, however, has argued that the clause expired in December.
As the mandatory WBO title challenger, Usyk (18-0, 13 KOs) has demanded his shot against Joshua. Although Hearn now has 48 hours to respond to the WBO's letter, he did indicate earlier this week that they will have "no option but to look for an alternative fight" if Fury is unavailable.