Image: Wikimedia Commons / Jumeurah
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Jumeirah

Will we see Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua battle in the ring this year?

There’s something quite special about watching the biggest fight it out. That’s why the biggest fight in boxing has always been for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The event in the square circle has dominated the world sporting stage for decades. The Rumble in The Jungle, The Thriller in Manila, Mike Tyson vs Buster Douglas, Rocky I, II, III, IV, V and VI; the ‘baddest man on the planet’ has always been the pinnacle of individual sporting triumph.

Throughout history, it has been more than fair to say that this particular event – whilst it’s been popular – has been a very American one, bar a few outliers; most notably Lennox Lewis, Trevor Berbick and Max Schmeling. It was not until the early 2000s that forces originating outside of the US began to achieve consistent success at the top of the heavyweight division. Their surge, however, was coupled with boxings faltering popularity.

Now, after 20 odd years in relative darkness, boxing has moved back into the light of public interest. The appearance of big personalities, an ingredient sorely missed in recent years, a few key and very noisy promoters and a wave of talent has brought a level of competition that excites. Even the guys your little brother watches on YouTube are getting into the ring.

Despite recent positivity, however, there has been one undeniably true criticism concerning all divisions: ‘the best don’t fight the best.’ And now, with the heavyweight belts shared between two Brits, both with their own large and growing fanbase, both giants over 6ft 6 inches and over 17 stone, it has never been more important that the best, do indeed, fight the best.

That event hopefully nears, but it hasn’t been easy to get Joshua and Fury together. There’s been mounting pressure to fight mandatory challengers instead; Dillion Whyte was in waiting for ages before his defeat to Povetkin. Now the bulked-up cruiserweight King Oleksandr Usyk is trying to force through his mandatory status to fight Joshua.

They are in pole position for a complete blockbuster

Not to mention that the Joshua-Fury duo at the top has only just become a duo. First, there were three competing for the top spot and Tyson Fury had to return from a few years of binging on drugs and the drink, recover from severe depression. Then, he had to stop the previously undefeated champion and knock-out artist Deontay Wilder, all after losing 10 stone. Joshua, after being stopped himself by his then unknown and short notice Mexican opponent Andy Ruiz Jr, had to come back and avenge his defeat and reclaim his titles. It’s certainly been a long road. Now they share the belts and two of the biggest agents in the game, and a fight seems to be edging closer. They are in pole position for a complete blockbuster!

But…

This is boxing, and the Joshua Fury fight has been confirmed in no more capacity than by word of mouth and that means absolutely nothing. Until the contract is signed no one can be sure about anyone fighting anyone. Eddie Hearn (AJ’s agent) is “very confident” that it will happen, Frank Warren (Fury’s UK agent) says they’re “not far off getting it done.” They both describe the deal as being completely done other than the paperwork. Sadly, that means it’s not done at all.

As always with boxing, all we can do is hope. There won’t be anyone that doesn’t want this fight taking place – other than the odd challenger who feels it’s their shot at a title first. Everyone wants it to happen: fans, promoters, and if you believe everything they say, the fighters in question too.

Now, ignoring Covid-19, it’s all about the money. There really can’t be any fairer deal than a 50/50 split. Yes, Joshua has more belts, but no one cares about belts. Which belt? How many belts? No one cares. There’s only one thing that matters: ‘Who is the champion?’ Regarding that question, they are equal contestants, neither with any higher status or value than the other.

So, the event feels near, all the participants say that it’s close to happening, but we still wait on official contracts. The information available is limited. The aim is for the event to take place in May or June, and it is most likely to take place outside of the UK due to Covid-19. The trend of late is for major boxing events to take place in the Middle East – in the current circumstance that seems a likely destination. Wherever it takes place, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have the chance to make the biggest fight in British history.

As I said before, all we can do is hope. At least now that hope seems more realistic and although nothing is official yet, it sounds like it could happen soon.

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