The British heavyweight behemoths have twice come close to meeting inside a ring, but both times it has fallen at the final hurdle. First in 2021 a two-fight deal was agreed when Deontay Wilder popped up to win an arbitration ruling to instead force a third fight vs Fury. Then in late 2022 a showdown was again in the works before talks broke down.
Now, the massive investment coming into the sport from Saudi Arabia means it could be a case of third time lucky. Thanks to Saudi General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Alalshikh revealing recently that he wants the winner of that Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk unification match (February 17) to take on the winner of that upcoming Joshua vs Francis Ngannou (March 8). Again with the undisputed championship up for grabs.
A little over a year ago there appeared to be a significant gap between Fury (34-0-1) and Joshua (27-3) – particularly in the eyes of the public and the odds makers. That gap has closed significantly though with Joshua reeling off three wins in 2023 and Fury struggling to get past professional boxing novice Ngannou.
AJ was particularly impressive in demolishing Otto Wallin in five one-sided rounds on that ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in Riyadh on December 23. The Swede remember had given Fury all he could handle when they met in Las Vegas back in 2019.
Hearn on Fury vs Joshua plans
Hearn told The Fight Wire: “I feel if AJ beats Ngannou well, stops him particularly, and Fury beats Usyk, the clamour for that fight for the undisputed championship is going to be so big that I can’t see His Excellency (Turki Alalshikh) looking in any other direction.
“I know that there’s rematch clauses and contracts that need to be respected [for Fury vs Usyk], but let’s be honest, that fight will be right in front of us. And it’s not a strategy for us to go out beat Fury’s opponents that he struggled with better. But listen, it’s a great narrative and I think it shows our progression.
“What he [Joshua] did to Otto Wallin – he made that almost a mismatch, Fury was lucky to win that fight. And the same applies to Ngannou – if AJ can do a job, it will just build that fight bigger and bigger. But everyone’s got their own plans at the moment, but I do believe AJ is on his way to becoming undisputed world heavyweight champion. I think he’s gonna beat Ngannou, and whether he gets Hrgovic next or whether he gets Tyson Fury, I believe he’s gonna go through everybody.”
Hearn was at pains to stress that the March 8 showdown with Ngannou presents considerable risk for his man, admitting: “This is kind of like the one where, it’s not full of reward on the other side, this fight, it’s a dangerous fight for the reasons of, if you lose to Francis Ngannou where do you go? Especially coming off a great year that he had. So he’s got to be switched on for this fight.
“I think the public are already going mad for that fight after Wallin, but if he does a job on Ngannou in a high-profile fight, I think we’re gonna have no choice but to see Fury against AJ.