Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are expected to meet once, maybe twice, in a boxing ring next year.
The build-up to their huge showdown will be, as ever in boxing, hyped to sell pay-per-view buys to expectant fans. There will be mudslinging, and perhaps a shoving match or two.
But ask Fury what he really thinks abut Joshua and it is a very different story. Away from the cameras and flash bulbs, it’s a message built on respect, not criticism.
‘The Gypsy King’ talked about AJ in his latest book, ‘The Furious Method’, which was released on November 12.
The book is an in-depth look at Fury’s recovery from the mental health demons which threatened to wreck not only his boxing career but his life.
And in it he found time to reflect on Joshua’s accomplishments. The way he turned his life around to become an elite athlete. And the way he recovered from that potentially devastating first professional defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr.
Fury on Joshua: he’s come a long way
Fury wrote: “Contrary to all the rubbish written about what I supposedly think of him, I think he’s done very well with his life and has come a long way from living in a council flat in Watford.
“He’s a world-class athlete and a multimillionaire, who has made serious adjustments to himself since he had trouble with the law as a young man. The life he has created for his whole family is amazing.
“I respect that. I also respect that when he lost to Andy Ruiz, a small fat man with even bigger cheese pouches than me, in June 2019, AJ handled that defeat with the grace and humility of a champion. He had to ask himself some very serious questions. On the night he had produced a lacklustre performance.
“To his credit he made no excuses and went away and rebuilt himself. When he re-emerged for the sequel he was a different fighter and displayed better boxing IQ, and although he played things safe, using his jab and keeping Ruiz on the outside – just as Lennox Lewis did with Mike Tyson in 2002 – it was a good result.”
Ruiz rematch highlighted Joshua resilience
Fury’s book is a look at the past, but designed to help people for the future as they too suffer with mental health issues. And he believes the way Joshua dealt with that Ruiz loss highlights one of the qualities needed.
He continued: “The reason I mention this is that, at the worst time in his career, AJ showed resilience in how he chose to respond to the problem. Resilient people get to know themselves as a matter of necessity.”
Fury and Joshua have already agreed in principle the financial structure of a two-fight deal. The first would feature a 50-50 revenue split. The rematch meanwhile would see the winner take a 60-40 share.