Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua was the superfight that British fans, and perhaps the whole boxing world, yearned for a year ago.
A matchup of two world champions with opposite personalities who enter the mainstream for the four major heavyweight belts was within striking reach.
The battle was scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia in August 2021, and the finer arrangements were agreed upon.
But Fury was instead mandated to fight Deontay Wilder in a trilogy of fights by an arbitration tribunal. It appeared that the Fury-Joshua — or Joshua-Fury, depending on your allegiances — ship had sailed as their careers afterwards went in different directions.
Joshua has lost three of his previous five fights and is currently without a world championship, while the unpredictable Fury, who last week made an appearance in the World Wrestling Entertainment fictional universe, has claimed to have retired more than once.
But on September 5, WBC champion Fury issued a social media challenge to Joshua in an unexpected turn of events.
According to his management organization, Joshua and Fury reached an agreement on conditions on Tuesday.
Is the meeting still a super-fight for the current period if it ultimately takes place as has been suggested? Or has interest waned and are greater conflicts truly available to be staged in their place?
Is Usyk-Fury more intense?
Unquestionably, the possibility of an undisputed bout to determine the world’s top heavyweight last year was a major selling factor. Since the four-belt system began in 2004, the heavyweight division has not had an undisputed champion.
22 years ago, Lennox Lewis was the last undisputed heavyweight champion.
Will the casual sports fan, let alone the casual fan of boxing, be that interested? Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing claims that the two boxers, not necessarily the titles up for grabs, will determine the magnitude of the bout.
In less than three months, it has been proposed that the summit be held in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.
In contrast to heavyweight title fights in the United Kingdom, the build-up to Joshua’s rematch with Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia last month was extremely quiet. There was also a visibly different atmosphere because few supporters traveled to the Middle East.
It is significant that the battle will take place in Britain rather than the Middle East or the United States.
However, some die-hard fans may like to see Usyk take on WBA, IBF, and WBO champion Fury. That would be a clash between two legendary, expert fighters with unusual personalities.
The fight’s other unknowns, such as whether Fury is simply too large and whether Usyk has to establish himself as a heavyweight after only facing three opponents at that weight since stepping up from cruiserweight, would add to its excitement.
Usyk’s tremendous journey over the past year has elevated his prominence. From protecting his nation from the Russian invasion to defending his world titles against Joshua, Usyk has seen incredible success.
Fury-Joshua is still a great draw for fight fans worldwide and for businesses alike, but Fury-Usyk may be even more captivating.
Usyk has stated he won’t return to the ring until 2023, so maybe Fury-Joshua in the interim makes perfect sense.
Joshua, is he passed his prime?
Joshua hit a career low in June 2019 when Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr. shocked everyone by winning in New York, defeating him for the first fight as a professional.
After winning in the London 2012 Olympics, British boxing’s golden kid was defeated in the seventh round at storied Madison Square Garden. But six months later, he won the rematch by a unanimous score, reclaiming his united world championships.
Joshua indicated a bout with Fury may be the biggest in British boxing history following an easy victory over Kubrat Pulev in December 2020.
However, he suffered another championship loss in September 2021, this time in London against mandatory challenger Usyk.
Despite how one-sided the fight was, ‘AJ’ got right back into the rematch, which he lost again on points in August, showing his character and desire to make things right.
Does Joshua’s current track record imply that he won’t have a chance against someone who possesses Fury’s level of boxing IQ?
There is no shame in losing back-to-back fights to pound-for-pound king Usyk, who significantly improved in the rematch, but Joshua’s explosive combinations and clinical finishing instinct haven’t been seen in a while.
Will AJ be rekindled by Fury’s fight?
Joshua’s technical skill has always been questioned because he only started playing the sport at the age of 19, but he has disproved them with remarkable points victories against players like Joseph Parker and Ruiz Jr.
Joshua has developed as a boxer and been eager to show that he can do more than simply deliver knockout blows.
One might argue that he has been modifying his approach in preparation for a potential matchup with Fury. And given his experience and knowledge of past setbacks, this may be the ideal opportunity for him to confront his competitor.
Both Joshua’s thinking and physical state are hotly contested issues. Carl Froch, a former super-middleweight champion, questioned whether Joshua had become “a shattered man” as a result of his defeat by Ruiz Jr.
Joshua’s strange reaction during the post-fight interview received criticism after he lost to Usyk in Jeddah.
Since going pro in 2013, the Londoner has been under pressure and has to deal with the public’s attention, according to his promoter Hearn.
Joshua has a wide range of sponsorship obligations, including ones with apparel companies, energy drink producers, headphone companies, and automakers. Some believe his heart may no longer be in the sport, including Froch.
If so, perhaps the size of the Fury bout, which will undoubtedly catch at the very least the interest of the British audience, could rekindle Joshua’s passion.
Is this the ideal moment for Fury?
Elite boxer Fury is. It’s uncommon to see a fighter of his size float over the ring as he does. However, some people believe Fury’s résumé to be inferior than Joshua’s.
In Dusseldorf in 2015, “The Gypsy King” dethroned Wladimir Klitschko despite the odds. He returned to the sport after a lengthy absence and drew with Wilder before twice halting the American.
Aside from those two well-known athletes, he has often defeated underdog opponents or unproven world championship contenders like British boxers Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte.
Despite Joshua’s recent defeats, Fury could believe that a victory would not only give him the upper hand but also solidify his place among the greats, rivaling Lennox Lewis as the greatest British heavyweight in history.
He could also believe that, against a helpless and demoralized Joshua, now is the perfect opportunity to cash in on a massive payday. Fury-Joshua is still expected to make a lot of money commercially.
Fury is a popular figure outside of the ring. He has a devoted, international audience as a result of his WWE performances, duets with pop musicians, reality TV show, and well-documented struggles with drugs and mental health.
But since defeating Whyte at Wembley Stadium in April, Fury has made a number of announcements, requested a trilogy fight with Chisora, traveled to Iceland to take on strongman Thor Bjornsson, proposed a free-to-air TV battle between him and Joshua, and requested £500 million for his next fight.
Although a lot of what he says is tongue-in-cheek, some boxing fans are annoyed by the discrepancies and the uncertainty surrounding his next move.
Some people aren’t even certain that the Joshua-Fury battle will take place this year. It will be interesting to watch how much global attention it attracts if it actually happens.