Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn believes Tyson Fury still comes off second-best to Anthony Joshua in worldwide appeal despite the Gypsy King’s unbeaten legacy. That being said, the boxing entrepreneur has suggested he’d be open to signing Fury in future.

Long were Joshua and Fury forecast to meet in a battle of Britain’s best heavyweights, and a two-fight agreement was even announced as recently as March 2021. Other contractual obligations prevented the pair from facing off, however, and Fury has since ‘retired’ after knocking out Dillian Whyte at Wembley in March.

The Wythensawe native would depart the sport with a 32-0-1 record, only failing to beat Deontay Wilder when they drew a first bout that Fury largely dominated. Joshua, 32, boasts a less impressive 24-2 record after losing to Andy Ruiz and Oleksandr Usyk.

“Tyson Fury isn’t the biggest draw in boxing,” he told GQ. “AJ still is. But yes – he’s a huge star. But I am loyal to AJ, and I think Fury knew that when I was discussing signing him when he was 400lbs. He knew AJ would be my number one, and that would have been difficult. But you never know what could happen in the future.”

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Speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap last year, Fury referenced Hearn’s past attempts to sign him before referring to the businessman as a “a proper southern w****r.” He continued: “I love to terrorise him because he loves to talk s*** about people that he’s got nothing to do with. All he’s ever done is talk rubbish about me because he knows he gets hits and viewing figures on his interviews. At the end of the day, what has he ever achieved in his life? He’s never been a boxer.”

It wasn’t just Fury that found himself in the crosshairs of Hearn, who went on to aim a polite dig at social media personality Jake Paul. The pair got to know each other when Hearn’s fighter, Katie Taylor, put her undisputed lightweight titles up against Amanda Serrano, who’s represented by Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions.

“I used Jake Paul in that promotional tour. And he used me. I brought the traditional boxing crowd and he brought the YouTube audience,” said Hearn of the former Disney actor. “You don’t take up boxing in your mid-twenties and beat Canelo Alvarez. It’s just not possible. But he really believed it, even off-camera when it was just the two of us.”

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Paul has amassed a 5-0 record in the boxing ring and finished former UFC fighters Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley in his most recent outings. The 25-year-old was due to face former sparring partner Hasim Rahman Jr. on Saturday—as a replacement for Fury’s half-brother, Tommy—but announced on Saturday their fight is now off.

Hearn’s judgement that Paul is a long way from being worthy of a bout against Alvarez looks well-placed considering the former YouTuber is yet to face a current pro boxer. The Matchroom kingpin isn’t the first to marvel at the American’s staggering self-belief, with many in wonder as to how long before Paul meets his match.