The heavyweight showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua has edged another step closer. A battle between the Brits for the undisputed crown was boosted as Joshua comfortably dispatched Kubrat Pulev in London. It was a confident and well-measured performance and stoppage that paves the way for a clash that has fight fans on both sides of the Atlantic eager to see. The opinion is divided on who would come out on top if a clash for all the belts could finally be made.
WBC champions Fury is considered the favorite with the best sportsbooks in Illinois. He is priced as short as -175 with William Hill. The same betting site has WBA, IBF, and WBO holder Joshua at 137.5. It is a fight that is already being billed as the biggest heavyweight clash of the modern era. However, as always in this sport, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome first. Wilder rematch wrangle needs to be resolved.
Tyson Fury appeared to help the chances of a Joshua showdown when distancing himself from rematch talks with Deontay Wilder. Fury had already dished out a first defeat to Wilder when stopping the heavy hitter from Alabama in February. That came after their previous draw in the first meeting. The pair had been set to meet for a trilogy fight before the coronavirus pandemic halted those plans.
Once the sport was able to resume, Fury was keen to return to the ring before the end of the year. But, after Wilder delayed, the Gypsy King claimed the immediate rematch clause had expired. A decision on that will now have to be made at an arbitration hearing in the States.
“An arbitration judge will decide it. We say it is at an end, Wilder says it can be extended. If the judge rules that Wilder is right, then that’s what he [Fury] has to do. They will give us a decision soon, but we don’t know when,” explained Fury’s promoter Frank Warren to ESPN.
A second hurdle in the way of the Joshua-Fury clash is WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk. The Ukrainian picked up a points win over Derek Chisora last time out and is next in line for a crack at AJ following his move up to heavyweight after previously unifying the cruiserweight division. Joshua has only just dealt with one mandatory in the form of Pulev but now the WBO challenger is keen for his opportunity as well.
Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas seems steadfast in his desire to make the fight happen, while WBO president Francisco Valcarcel has echoed that sentiment. Ultimately, that decision will have to be made by the WBO but fight fans will be hoping they see sense and ask Usyk to wait. Another way around this could be negotiations through Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, who manage both Joshua and Usyk. If a WBO call goes against the Joshua vs Fury match-up, perhaps Hearn can offer the Ukrainian an alternative fight plan for 2021, a financial reward to match, and a promise of a clash with the emerging champion down the line.
Another stumbling block for the fight being up next for both men is its agreed location. With coronavirus still hitting the world, the chances of a packed Wembley arena early in 2021 are looking unlikely. Yet this is a fight that surely needs the fans to go with it, especially if it is to be considered one of the great boxing events of a generation.
There has already been talk of a move to the Middle East. There is certainly money to be made for the fighters out there, as seen when Saudi Arabia reportedly paid $38.46million to host the Joshua-Ruiz II contest a year ago. However, Fury’s camp has previously stated their desire for the battle to be held in Britain. Those talks on a location, the possibility of fans attending and the money surrounding it will still have to be thrashed out at some stage.
So, while the Joshua vs Fury contest is the one heavyweight bout that fight fans across the world want to see next, there are still plenty of issues to be resolved. It could be that both men have to accept alternative fights earlier in the year before finally meeting midway through 2021.
A lot can happen with that scenario and a defeat for either man would be a hammer blow to hopes of an undisputed clash. That said, if these issues can be resolved, the fight is as close as it has ever been and a much-anticipated meeting could be just months away.