In a week that has seen the long-awaited confirmation of possibly THE biggest international fight in history (whether you like it or not), in the form of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor’s money-making face off in Vegas, we look at the potential between another seriously tasty fight that everyone is talking about, this time a little closer to home – Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury.
After an unbelievable fight at Wembley Stadium against Wladimir Klitschko in April – a fight that can be credited with getting a lot of people talking about the sport – Anthony Joshua continued his meteoric rise upwards. Still unbeaten. Still humble. Still oh so marketable. And his growing army of fans just can’t get enough.
— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) April 30, 2017
While we all stay suspended on a cliff edge over whether there will be a part two, (which could certainly be on the cards, especially now the IBF has agreed to postpone a mandatory challenge to make way for a potential rematch and whispers of Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October), considerations turn to other potential suitors that could match such an epic blockbuster.
And even though no one can deny that that fight was one of the most exciting of the decade, what it arguably was missing was a dramatic, anticipation- creating build up.
Both Klitschko and Joshua were polite, respectful and appreciative of each other’s journey. There was no trash talking, no press conference Chisora style smash ups, and no cheeky butting of heads at the face off. AJ didn’t call out Klitschko on his 41-years, and Klitschko didn’t give Joshua any experience vs youth put downs. It was all very calm and collected.
While a fight of this magnitude doesn’t necessarily need anything else, it is difficult to deny the guilty pleasure of watching a bit of pre-fight trash talking.
— TYSON2FASTFURY (@Tyson_Fury) April 27, 2017
Step forward the ‘Gypsy King’ himself and the proposition of a ‘Battle of Britain’. Former heavyweight champion and god of social media put downs. After the Klitschko fight, Joshua was quick to throw the first stone in baiting the bear however – “Where you at Fury, baby?” he said, grinning into the camera.
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) April 29, 2017
And thus a dream fight for British boxing was born.
“Challenge accepted,” Fury wrote on social media. “We will give the world the biggest fight in 500 years. I will play with you. You are a boxer’s dream.
“Well done Anthony Joshua. Good fight. You had life and death with Klitschko and I played with the guy. Let’s dance,” not resisting a dig in true Tyson Fury style.
Just think of the potential. Both champions, as well as household names in the Heavyweight boxing division, albeit for very different reasons. This would have to be another Wembley Stadium, or similar capacity, for sure.
Boxing’s golden boy versus the self-proclaimed outcast and bad boy.
And it is not just Fury himself who believes he is still the best. Fellow boxer, and friend, Billy Joe Saunders, also thinks he could be bigger than Joshua, if he let his real personality shine.
— Irish Mirror Sport (@MirrorSportIE) May 16, 2017
In a recent press conference he said: “If only Tyson Fury would show the other side of himself rather than his controversial media face. If he did that he would be even more popular than Anthony Joshua.”
A fight of this degree would definitely continue to keep British Boxing at the forefront.
As mentioned above, the build up for a fight like this would be simply unmissable and would go down in the history of British Boxing. The good guy v bad guy dynamic never fails, and the self-confessed ‘most controversial man on the planet’, Tyson Fury, would be sure to bring it in a way that would be difficult for AJ to ignore.
And it appears it has already started simmering. In an interview with BBC Radio 5, Joshua has already started to get the digs in.
“I fought the better Wladimir Klitschko, not the complacent one, the guy who realised his mistakes and wanted to put it right,” Joshua said, referring to the Ukrainian’s previous defeat against Fury in 2015.
This comes after Fury said on social media that Joshua “couldn’t lace his boots up”. Speaking to Sky Sports, AJ then came back mocking the ex-champion for his current shape when addressing a potential match up.
“I don’t think Tyson can lace his own boots at the minute! When Tyson is fit, when he’s ready, we’ll be ready,” he said.
“We’re patient. I wish him a speedy recovery with all the stuff that he’s got going on outside the ring. It’s a fight that people want to see. He’s one of my boxing rivals and I need this competition throughout my career.
“I can’t wait for him to get back. We’ll see if I can lace his boots when we come to blows.”
— SurbitonBoxingClub (@SURBITON_BOXING) June 14, 2017
Fury also said last month that he thinks unbeaten Joshua will be his “easiest” fight, really twisting the knife into his rival.
He told BBC 5 live boxing that it will be like “a cat playing with a ball of wool” and that he would remove the “fraud from the division.”
“Joshua is a big man with a puncher’s chance and has no footwork, no speed or stamina,” he continued.
“He is what you call a boxer’s dream. I’ve had 18 months out and ballooned up to 26 stone. I could come back with no comeback fights and still box rings around that body builder.”
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) May 1, 2017
Fury has sparred with Joshua in the past and added: “I always said Wladimir would be my easiest fight. Now I change the goal posts, AJ will be my easiest fight.
Ain’t that the truth pic.twitter.com/Tn2zeRQEhD
— Lucas Browne (@lucasBrowne) May 1, 2017
He said he “enjoyed every minute” of the Joshua-Klitschko Wembley Stadium fight, but admitted concern, stating “silly things” Joshua did could have led to a defeat which would have “cost us millions” by ruining their chances of a potential future clash.
He added: “Joshua was supposed to walk right through him as he was old and useless supposedly, but it didn’t work like that did it? Klitschko’s been out of the ring 18 months and had a 50-50 fight with a so-called killer. I will rip the fraud from the division.
“You get two types of people in boxing, the outlaw and the Mr Nice. I am the outlaw so people love to hate me. That’s my personality, love me or hate me you still have to watch me, it works. I’ve been through depression, life and death positions, and turned it all around,” he said.
Another reason this would be great for British boxing is that huge clashes expose the sport to a larger audience so for an all British fight with two such large characters, the interest would be unparalleled. As seen with Joshua v Klitschko, the fight was a 90,000 sell out hit and well as being shown on PPV both here on Sky as well as worldwide on channels including HBO. Deontay Wilder came over from America to keep an eye with a future fight in mind, bringing over the US interest, and British boxing currently looks more popular than ever. Big names bring interest from big names after all.
More people watching and discussing British boxing brings it into the public awareness. Britain isn’t renowned in too many sports it is real nice to have a sport where we really are on top. A top notch British clash could then, more than likely, lead to a Las Vegas mega clash, US v UK, for the victor.
Popularity of the sport also leads to more people partaking in it, with boxing classes popping up left right and centre and new ranges from sponsors such as Under Armour and JD sports make the sport more accessible to us mere mortals, which can only be a good thing.
There is also already historical bad blood between the pair which makes this fight even more interesting.
Fury and his team have been very quick to point out many a thought-provoking point that only adds to the bad blood between the pair aside from the insults. For one – the fact that Joshua has been allowed to log an exception to allow him to keep the belt with a mandatory challenge pushes back to 2018. Fury, in the same situation was stripped of his belt, just days after the fight.
“I find this just shows the level of tide against Tyson as we had no such option allowed to us,” Peter Fury told World Boxing News.
“Instead, we got stripped of the IBF when Tyson won it fair and square. Let’s be honest, they couldn’t wait to take his belt.”
Promoter Frank Warren meanwhile also believes Fury has been treated unfairly by the endless delays to his UKAD hearing which now makes any fights before 2018 look unlikely.
“UKAD have got a problem,” said Warren in a press conference.
“He’s entitled to make a living. If he’s done wrong then get it over with. How can this be right? Why does it drag on from 2015?”
There is also the less serious business of when the pair sparred each other back in 2009, with the apparent offer of Fury’s Rolex on the line. Even back then the fight was appealing to Joshua, who told Boxing News – “Fury’s someone that’s been mentioned since I was three fights in [to his pro career]. It’s a relevant fight. You know boxing, as long as there’s interest sooner or later these fights happen. I think that’s a real realistic fight”.
Additionally, this fight would be great for British boxing is that it is one for the fans! Mandatory challengers do not always make for the most interesting fights. I for one would definitely be keener for Joshua v Fury over Joshua v Pulev or Joshua v Ortiz. Everyone loves an underdog and if there ever was one, it is seven stone over weight Tyson Fury with no licence right now. However, we are glued to his social media posts hanging on to every promise of a return to reclaim his belts.
Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs) is very aware of the importance of keeping the fans entertained whilst aiming to complete his goal of holding all four heavyweight belts.
“I listen to what people want. Tyson makes a lot of noise and he’s made it clear that he wants to fight me,” Joshua told Sky Sports.
“Now, I’m in a position that I can say: ‘Tyson when you’re back, I’m interested, so let’s live up to what people want to see us do.’ That’s why he’s top of my list. In the UK, Tyson Fury.
“You can never set your standards too low, let’s aim high. I will state today that [holding all four belts] is very possible.”
Tyson Fury is also keen, saying it would be what “the world wants to see” (and a fight he thinks he can easily win) on Instagram.
“People do want to see the fight between me and you, AJ,” said Fury.
“The world wants to see it because I am still the lineal heavyweight champion and everybody knows that. I walked away from boxing because I wasn’t interested – there were no challengers there. I beat the best man there was. But now it seems that I’ve been out two years and there are a few more challengers.
“People think that you can beat me. I don’t think you can, personally. Let me get my situation on track, get fit and then I’ll fight you. May the best man win.”
However, we do have to mention the obvious – Fury (25-0) is currently in no position to fight right now. He may still technically be the lineal champion, as he does not let anyone on Twitter or Instagram forget, and it is difficult to argue his previous credentials, even if they do come off the back of being a huge awkward beast of a fighter – but with his recent history of serious depression and cocaine use, not to mention his massive weight gain, the road to a shot at AJ may be long and winding for the ‘Gypsy King’.
His Anti-Doping hearing being pushed back as well, mean that it is pretty much guarantee he will not be fighting anyone till 2018 at the very earliest.
If he is going to come back, and being less than one year older than Anthony Joshua there is no reason why he cannot if he wants to, he needs to make sure he is fit and ready to fight. How upsetting would it be for him to come back and put in a similar performance to David Price v Christian Hammer with no stamina or motivation after such a long stretch out.
Although Tyson himself claims that the fight is already pretty much a done deal, despite the setbacks, for 2018. He told the Daily Telegraph (again before his UKAD hearing was delayed further): “Eddie Hearn has already booked Wembley Stadium for next April.
“There isn’t another stadium where it should take place. I would fight Joshua in October but I believe Klitschko will take the rematch.
“Deep down, I don’t think they want to fight me yet. Joshua struggled with Klitschko. And I took Klitschko to school, toyed with him, put my hands behind my back, literally, while he was letting his cannons go, slipping out of the way of them. They are not ready for that.
“A lot of people have picked AJ to beat me, but I’ve said many times that we are in a sport called “the sweet science” and it’s not a body-building contest or a strongman competition. Joshua is an easy fight for me.”
“I’ve been written off so many times. How many times was Muhammad Ali written off in his career? But come Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, he beat them all. And when the time comes, I’ll go through them, and all their unbeaten records will fall.”
Although Eddie Hearn doesn’t seem quite as raring to go, describing the fight as “miles off” at a recent press conference.
Hearn told the Daily Mail: “There is nothing I or AJ would want more than to see Tyson back in the ring. But it won’t be next. Tyson just won’t be ready.
“Physically he is not at the races and he has a lot to resolve in terms of his doping hearing and getting his licence back.
“As it stands, I think the best chance of a Fury fight is April 2018, at Wembley. That depends on a successful defence in October or November.
“Rest assured, if we can make it happen, we will make it happen,” he said.
By Charlotte Prior. You can follow her on Twitter on @CharlotteLily89