The long-rumored, long-discussed clash of British heavyweights is finally signed Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua fight for all four world titles and the crown of the undisputed champion.
It never happened in the four-belt era, and the last person to be named the undisputed heavyweight world champion was also a Brit boxing hall owned by Famer Lennox Lewis, last recognized as such in 2000.
There are still many questions to answer, and many more that will arise in the run-up to the fight. But right now, Ben Baby, Nick Parkinson, Eric Woodyard, and Michael Rothstein are sharing everything you need to know about Joshua-Fury so you can know what’s real and what’s not.
This is the biggest fight in British boxing history – and the biggest fight of 2021
Parkinson’s: Really. This is bigger than any fight a British boxer has been in before at home or on the go. And the importance of this mega-fight goes beyond the financial stakes or the importance that it will be the first global heavyweight fight with all four big titles on the line.
It’s due to the fact that Joshua and Fury are household names who meet at the height of their careers. It doesn’t require a sale, but when the trash talk starts it will only increase the appetite for that encounter.
In the UK, Fury has won fans since its comeback and gained crossover appeal with its mental health campaign. He is seen by his fans as the opposite of Joshua’s image and sponsorship deals. But Joshua has his own fans, as evidenced by bringing 90,000 viewers to the UK’s defense of the title, and he has gained momentum and popularity to regain the belts after losing them to Andy Ruiz Jr.
Nothing stimulates the imagination of the British public more than purely British grudge games, and some of the greatest fights in British history have been domestic disputes like Carl Froch-George Groves, Lennox Lewis-Frank Bruno and Chris Eubank-Nigel Benn. Other British boxers involved in megafights against the biggest names are Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko, David Haye versus Klitschko, Joe Calzaghe versus Mikkel Kessler, Ricky Hatton versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Kostya Tszyu, Lewis versus Mike Tyson, Bruno versus Mike Tyson, Henry Cooper versus Muhammad Ali, Tommy Farr versus Joe Louis, Ted “Kid” Lewis versus Georges Carpentier.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Fury-Joshua was Sugar Ray Robinson’s two middleweight bouts with England’s Randy Turpin in 1951 or Bob Fitzsimmons’ heavyweight title win against James J. Corbett in Carson City, Nevada, which was big worldwide news in 1897.
It’s gruesome that such a big event for British boxing – and the biggest in the world in 2021 – is likely to take place outside of the home of English boxers. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing rules mean we won’t see Fury-Joshua at Wembley in front of 90,000 fans this summer.
Let’s just be grateful that we even get it and that we can hopefully get a second aid later in 2021 when fans are present at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
The winner of this fight is considered to be one of the best heavyweights of all time
Baby: not real And let me say it again, once – no.
It’s no small matter for Fury or Joshua, two men who brought much-needed excitement to a division that was once the pinnacle of global sport. But the energy intake and rising populations of both fighters doesn’t mean either one deserves to be considered one of the best heavyweights of all time.
The winner will have a marquee win against Wladimir Klitschko and his opponent here, who are very strong references in modern times. But with boxing’s rich history spanning more than 100 years, it means that it’s much harder to achieve all-time status.
Here’s the better question: can Fury or Joshua oust the great Lennox Lewis as the greatest British fighter of all time? And given Lewis’s victories over Evander Holyfield, Tyson, Hasim Rahman and Vitali Klitschko, it’s hard to argue against Lewis.
Hopefully the aggressive matchmaking we’ve seen in the heavyweight division over the past few years can add strength to the division as a whole and strengthen the legacy of all current fighters who will be great no matter who wins this Fury Joshua matchup.
Anger will win this fight
Rothstein: Really. Anger is unpredictable and can encounter an opponent from different angles and styles, making it difficult to prepare for and difficult to anticipate even over the course of a single fight. Even if Joshua thinks he’s seen a style and that’s it, Fury can easily turn it upside down.
Add to this equation that Joshua’s chin is nowhere near as reliable as Fury’s. Joshua was knocked down by Wladimir Klitschko and knocked down by Ruiz. There is a certain security flaw there. Yes, Fury was put down as well – Deontay Wilder in particular – but Fury was for the most part more consistent.
Fury’s size (6-foot-9) as well as his speed should help him here, too.
However, let’s be clear: this is not an easy fight for Fury, and he shouldn’t take it lightly or with less than his best preparation lest he fall into a trap against Joshua.
Joshua will win this fight
Parkinson’s: Really. I changed my mind about who will win the first encounter after seeing Joshua’s latest appearance. Joshua scored a dominant ninth-round knockout win against Kubrat Pulev in December to defend his WBO, WBA and IBF world titles, which restored his confidence and faith. After Joshua avenged the loss to Ruiz, he destroyed Pulev in a somewhat cautious December 2019 points win to show off much more of the explosive version of Joshua we were used to at the start of his first tenure as champion. The anger will be well over a year from the ring by the time they meet, and this will at least affect the balance with Joshua on their first encounter and restore him as the heavyweight man to beat.
Fury was brilliant against Wilder last February and has better boxing skills than Joshua. But Joshua, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, can box himself well and is well placed to execute the right strategy and knockout finish, as he demonstrated four years ago in Klitschko against another larger opponent with reach and impact ability.
Wilder should win the winner of that Fury Joshua fight
Woodyard: Really. He earned this right. Let’s not forget, the bronze bomber only has one loss on its balance sheet. Given that, I don’t think it’s the best personal choice for Wilder’s long-term career.
Yes, it makes the most sense financially and in terms of advertising and marketability, but not necessarily for Wilder as a fighter. At least not at the moment. In my opinion, it would be wise to win a tuning match first, hone your skills, and then get back to the heavyweight elite.
We can all agree that TKO’s devastating loss to Fury in 2020 was not only a blemish on his previous unbeaten record, but also on his ego as a person. It was made clear through his post-fight interviews, so I think the smart choice would be to readjust yourself and regain your sky-high confidence before facing Fury or Joshua.
Now I wouldn’t wait too long either. He wants to be at his best physically and mentally when he’s fighting for another title.