Hughie Fury’s delay in signing the contract for his fight with Joseph Parker could put his first world heavyweight title bid at risk.
That challenge for the WBO belt, one of several once held by his cousin Tyson, has been pushed back just over a month to May 6, a date confirmed on Monday after Hughie finally put pen to paper.
It is now likely that a long delayed hearing into the alleged failure of past drugs tests by Hughie and Tyson will take place before that date.
Hughie Fury delayed signing the contract for his showdown with Joseph Parker on May 6
The challenge is for the WBO belt, one of several once held by his cousin Tyson (centre)
Both boxers vehemently deny taking nandrolone, a prohibited steroid, two years ago. But should the case go against them Hughie must expect a ban.
Tyson is already under provisional suspension by the British Boxing Board of Control as the additional consequence of self-confessed cocaine abuse.
The Board have long been urging the United Kingdom Anti-Doping authority to process the steroid accusations and it is believed the hearing is pencilled in for mid-April.
The allegedly positive results were reported after tests in the spring of 2015.
UKAD took until the summer of 2016 to impose temporary suspensions on both men but then lifted that probation.
There has been no word on B-sample testing and Hughie and Tyson claim they may have been the accidental victims of eating contaminated meat.
Fury and his cousin Tyson face hearing into the alleged failure of past drugs tests
Tyson is already under provisional suspension by the British Boxing Board of Control
Nor has a satisfactory explanation for the interminable delay been forthcoming from UKAD.
Robert Smith, secretary-general of the Board, says: ‘We entrust UKAD with all our anti-doping procedures and we are very disappointed this matter has still not been resolved.
‘We have frequently corresponded with UKAD, asking them to hold the hearing and very much want them to do so now, at the earliest opportunity.’
Tyson was allowed to go ahead with his world title challenge to Wladimir Klitschko in late 2015, which resulted in his brilliant upset victory over the long-reigning champion.
Smith is concerned that if Hughie goes ahead against Parker without being cleared there could be legal complications should he win, also.
He says: ‘It is problematic for all involved if a boxer is allowed to fight while the findings of a drugs test are unresolved.’
Hearing into alleged failure of past drugs tests by Hughie and Tyson could take place mid-April
Parker gained the right to defend in a venue of his choice – still most likely in New Zealand
Hughie became the mandatory challenger to Parker when David Haye, the No 1 contender, decided instead to go ahead with this Saturday night’s grudge clash with Tony Bellew at London’s O2 Arena.
Team Fury hoped to bring the fight to Manchester but Parker gained the right to defend in a venue of his choice – still most likely his native New Zealand – when his promoters, Duco, won the US $3 million (£2.4m) purse bid.
Parker, as champion, receives 60 per cent of that purse but the even greater prize awaiting the winner could be a title unification clash with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
The American further enhanced his reputation as a mighty puncher this weekend with a fifth round KO – his 37th stoppage in 38 unbeaten fights – of Gerald Washington.
Wilder said: ‘I want Parker next.’
However, as well as dismissing Hughie Fury’s chances, Wilder’s immediate future is somewhat complicated.
Deontay Wilder defended his WBC heavyweight title with knockdown of Gerald Washington
Wilder landed the decisive flurry of punches in the fifth round, sending Washington tumbling
The WBC have suddenly ordered a rematch against the only opponent to have taken him the distance, Bermane Stiverne, who he outpointed to win his title two years ago.
It also appears that promoters Premier Boxing Champions are trying to set up a clash with another of their in-house heavyweights.
Dominic Breazeale, the opponent stopped in Anthony Joshua’s first defence of his world titles in London, secured a fifth round KO of his own on Wilder’s undercard. Those two were then involved in a late-night brawl at a nearby hotel in Alabama… conveniently in full public view in the lobby.
Shades of the Haye-Bellew hype.
Wilder also voiced his desire to box for the undisputed world title against the winner of Joshua’s IBF and WBA super-fight against Klitschko, which takes place at Wembley Stadium in front of a 90,000 crowd on April 29.
Although instructed to begin negotiations with Stiverne immediately, Wilder is expected to seek a dispensation from the WBC to be allowed a title unifier first.
Washington was unable to recover from there despite performing well in the bout
Wilder called out Parker, the WBO champion, straight after the fight on Saturday evening
Meanwhile, Wilder is expressing fears that he will soon kill an opponent in the ring.
After battering Washington, he said: ‘I’m getting more dangerous the more experience I get. I really feel that I’m going to seriously hurt someone to the point where they will end up putting a red tag on his toes. This is no joke.’
Not it is not. Boxing is a dangerous, sometime deadly game.
That makes it the sport which needs to take the firmest stance against performance-enhancing drug abuse.
That is one reason why British boxers should be grateful to have an official as dedicated to safe-guarding their health as the Board’s Robert Smith.
Ian John-Lewis did nobody any good by scoring Gavin McDonnell’s gallant but forlorn bid for the WBC world super-bantamweight title a draw.
Wilder entered ring before fight wearing a gold mask and went on to live up to golden boy tag
Not McDonnell, whose clear defeat by Mexican Rey Vargas was duly recorded by the other two judges at ringside.
Not himself, since his status as an ex-boxer capable of officiating at world title level must now be examined most scrupulously.
And certainly not British boxing.
By bringing down a verdict of equality at 114-114, John-Lewis deepened a suspicion of UK judging in other parts of the boxing world.
Home-town decisions have been a bane of the hardest game for decades but some recent decisions in this country have led to questioning of the British reputation for fair play.
The inexplicable John-Lewis card comes as Leo Santa Cruz is being advised by his trainer-father not to honour his promise to travel to Belfast for a potential third fight against Carl Frampton.
Gavin McDonnell’s bid for the WBC world super-bantamweight title ended in defeat
McDonnell was beaten by Rey Vargas via a majority decision at Hull Arena on Saturday
The Jackal, having beaten Santa Cruz in New York but then lost to him in Las Vegas last month, has been hoping he would be granted home advantage as they complete a potentially epic world super-bantamweight trilogy.
At first, Santa Cruz agreed that would be fair but he says now: ‘My father is telling me not to go Belfast. Because over there I might win the fight but not get the decision.’
John-Lewis has done no good to Frampton’s cause, either.
More foreign boxers are likely now to harbour misgivings about putting belts on the line in this country,
The two non-British judges in Hull quashed McDonnell’s ambition of joining his brother Jamie as the first British twins to hold world titles simultaneously.
Even the one who scored the fight 116-112 against him was less than generous to Vargas, a far-superior boxer and most worthy world champion.
The other, at 117-111, was more in tune with my scoring via television of a contest in which the three late rounds won by McDonnell were a tribute to his courage but far too little.
Doncaster-born McDonnell finished well after Vargas had begun strongly