The world heavyweight title showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury might not happen until at least 2023, fears BBC Radio 5 Live’s boxing expert Steve Bunce.
The all-British fight had looked set to take place in Saudi Arabia in August.
But it fell through when Deontay Wilder’s team won an arbitration hearing stating the American had a right to a third fight with Fury.
“It might not be December or even next year,” said Bunce.
The much anticipated fight between Fury and Joshua would have seen the pair contest all four world titles for the first time in the sport’s history.
Fury is the WBC champion while Joshua has the WBO, WBA and IBF belts.
However, with Fury’s rematch against Wilder taking place on 24 July, Joshua has been ordered to defend his WBO heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
Victories for both British fighters would pave the way for Fury-Joshua to take place, but Bunce does not expect things to progress as smoothly as anticipated.
Speaking on 5 live Boxing with Costello & Bunce, he added: “I will be stunned if Fury walks through Wilder in five rounds and Joshua is too big and stops Usyk in seven or eight rounds. That sets up something later this year – that is not going to happen.
“I am convinced there is going to be a hurdle in one of these fights that one of these champions can’t get over. I am convinced.”
BBC Radio 5 Live boxing commentator Mike Costello believes Usyk has the potential to cause Joshua problems.
The Ukrainian fighter has 18 wins from 18 bouts, and Costello said: “I think Usyk has the potential to give Joshua a real headache in terms of technique and making Joshua go looking for him.”
Fury was in Las Vegas on Saturday to sign his fight contract with Wilder.
Fury beat Wilder to end the American’s reign as WBC champion in Las Vegas in February 2020, 14 months after the pair drew in Los Angeles.
It means Fury must switch his preparation focus quickly to Wilder, having spent the last few months training towards a bout with Joshua.
“Wilder, whatever the odds are now they will be slashed,” added Bunce.
“People will buy into the Wilder third-fight victory. He will look different, he will be faster and slicker.
“If Fury is training so hard and he is working in the gym so hard in Las Vegas, why is he always on the jet going to Texas or Miami? Or landing back in Las Vegas or leaving Vegas? It is only a tiny jet, there is no boxing ring on that jet.
“He seems to have spent the last three weeks on jets sunning himself going all over America.
“When does Fury actually settle down and start preparing for Wilder? He has not been training for Wilder, he has been training for a whole different guy since about December. Now he has a whole different opponent in the opposite corner.”