The big event on the horizon is an undisputed world heavyweight title fight between the winner and Tyson Fury, with many saying a deal for that fight is already agreed.
Fury says he has retired, but no one really believes him — not his likely rivals, not his promoters, not even his family. Some people are even saying Fury is signed up to an undisputed title fight to take place back in Saudi Arabia.
The Ring magazine belt will be on the line tomorrow night after it was taken from Fury following his latest social media declaration that he had quit. It seemed even The Ring had tired of Fury’s constant teasing.
In between the constant proclamations that he is hanging up his gloves, Fury has been dishing out £2m offers to Derek Chisora, someone he beat twice, in 2011 and 2014, for a third fight in December.
The WBC are also getting fed up with Fury, with Mauricio Sulaiman, their president, apparently giving Fury until August 26 to decide whether he still wants to be their champion or not, although any move to strip the title from Fury would likely be met by legal action.
Chisora, who is signed to Joshua’s own management company, was the one who broke rank to claim that the deal with Fury to face tomorrow’s winner in Saudi Arabia was already done.
Even a date had apparently been pencilled in, according to some — December 17, the night before the World Cup Final in neighbouring Qatar.
However, the delay in staging this fight, plus the insistence of Usyk that, if he wins, he wants to go back to Ukraine rather than straight back into training, would seem to make that unlikely. In those circumstances, a Fury-Chisora fight might happened as a warm-up for the WBC champion.
Usyk dropped a hint this week too, saying he was expecting to return in the future. The Saudis are the biggest payers in boxing these days, giving the kind of site fees that the old Las Vegas casinos could merely dream of.
It is said to have been a $100m (£84m) offer that got this fight here — and the well is not close to running dry.
Cold, hard cash trumps any queasy feelings brought on by the idea of sportswashing. Joshua has been answering fewer questions about such things this week ahead of tomorrow’s big fight than when he boxed Andy Ruiz Jr on the outskirts of Riyadh in 2019.
Ramla Ali, the East Londoner who is taking part in the first women’s fight in the country on the undercard, has faced more of an interrogation for her statements that things are improving for the country’s women. Those claims were shot down by Amnesty International in a week where a Leeds University student, Salma-al-Shehab, was jailed for 34 years for reposting dissident messages on Twitter while on a holiday home to the country.
But the more times sports come here, the more it will become the norm, which is obviously the point.