Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO) vs. Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KO) has the potential to be the biggest fight in boxing this year. The showdown could unify the heavyweight division, with Joshua holding the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles and Fury holding the WBC, The Ring magazine, and lineal titles. The good news is that it could happen this year, with the former Olympian telling The Guardian that he is certain the fight will take place in 2021, as conversations between his camp and Fury’s are ongoing. He also vowed to “take [Fury’s] head off his shoulders”—a pronouncement that is sure to add fuel to an already highly anticipated bout.
This potential showdown though, is more than just a title unification and the chance to earn bragging rights as Britain’s top heavyweight. It is also a chance for the sport to have its first true mega fight since the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor crossover in 2017. MayMac generated 4.3 million PPV buys, falling just short of the all-time record of 4.6 million buys set in 2015 by the Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao “Fight of the Century” that was anything but.
Since then, no boxing fight has come remotely close to those figures, with the closest being the 1.3 million PPV buys of Canelo Álvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin I on September 2017 (just a month after MayMac). But Fury vs. Joshua will be a massive hit, one with the potential to generate at least 2 million PPV buys and breathe some life back into boxing. That’s because it involves the heavyweight division—boxing’s glamor division for so long thanks to memorable matches like the Thrilla in Manila, the third match between all-time heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier that has been hailed as the greatest in boxing history.
That’s not to say Fury and Joshua will put on the same kind of show, but they are certainly capable of doing so. They are, after all, the heavyweight division’s two best fighters, and are both in their prime. Fury, 32, is unbeaten, the holder of the lineal championship, and number 1 in ESPN’s heavyweight ranking. Joshua, 31, holds four belts and is just below Fury in ESPN’s ranking. Like Ali-Frazier III, Fury vs. Joshua will determine the best heavyweight in the world and push the winner closer to all-time great territory.
Making things even more compelling is that both heavyweights are coming off impressive victories, with Joshua knocking out Kubrat Pulev in round 9 just last December and Fury stopping erstwhile unbeaten DeontayWilder in round 7 a year ago. Despite similarly dominant showings, however, boxing pundits seem to be favoring The Gypsy King in a match against his countryman. In fact, Bwin has installed Fury as the slight favorite if the potential blockbuster happens.
That Fury is the presumptive pick in a match against Joshua isn’t surprising, as the Manchester-born champion has looked sharp since his return to boxing and holds signature wins over Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko—both of whom were considered the division’s best before losing to Fury. Joshua, in contrast, is just 18 months removed from a shocking knockout loss to the unheralded Andy Ruiz Jr. and hasn’t fought anyone at the caliber of either Klitschko or Wilder. But at 6-6 and with an 82-inch reach, knockout power, and improved footwork, Joshua has the physical tools not only to make this fight explosive and interesting, but also to beat the favored Fury.
All that said, it remains to be seen whether or not Fury vs. Joshua will happen. While both fighters seem to badly want it, there are still roadblocks to that might keep it from happening, notably Fury’s and Joshua’s mandatories—Dillian Whyte for Fury and Oleksandr Usyk for Joshua. Nevertheless, there is hope that the fight will happen this year. If so, it will be the first real clash of titans in years.