Fury vs Joshua will be probably the biggest fight in British boxing history – a mammoth showdown for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world – and now we just want to know the fight date and time.
Fury and Joshua apparently have met before – according to AJ they sparred for a brand new Rolex watch back in 2010. “Me and him had a straight war. We both have heart,” said Joshua, looking back on that meeting. The next time they hook up though the stakes will be way higher…
MASSIVE THANKS TO DANIEL KINNERHAN FOR MAKING THIS HAPPEN.🙏🏻👍🏻 god bless pic.twitter.com/18FfVKfCax
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) June 10, 2020
Fury, The Gypsy King from Manchester (30-0-1), holds the WBC and Ring magazine titles as well as being acclaimed as the lineal champion. Watford-born Joshua (23-1) meanwhile is the IBF, WBA and WBO king.
A fight between the two has been years in the making (Fury claims he has been chasing AJ for five years now) – and if and and when it does happen it is likely to smash domestic box-office records by some way.
Fury’s demolition of the hitherto-unbeaten Deontay Wilder and Joshua’s revenge over Andy Ruiz Jr mean all the heavyweight belts currently reside in Britain. And that sets up a huge showdown which would divide a nation. Or more likely two showdowns…
But first the contracts need to be signed – and as ever there are plenty of possible obstacles. Here we look at when the fight is likely to happen, and what is currently standing in the way.
The obstacles to Fury vs Joshua
Fury has now fought Wilder twice, a highly controversial draw in Los Angeles back in December 2018 followed by a devastating seventh-round TKO victory in Las Vegas in February 2020.
In their first fight The Gypsy King had to get off the floor twice to hear the final bell – the second time an unforgettable recovery from a Bronze Bomber hammer blow in the 12th and final round. Many judges believed Fury had still won the fight with a masterful boxing display, but the scorecards had it even and a rematch was ordered.
Second time round Fury made absolutely no mistake, coming in 17lbs heavier than for the first fight at some 273lbs, and with a more aggressive gameplan. He dominated from the first bell against a technically inferior opponent, showing real power en route to a comprehensive stoppage in round seven.
After that, there was plenty of surprise when Wilder (now 42-1-1) immediately exercised his contractual right to a third fight – and that is due to take place later this year. The initial date was set for July but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put paid to that, and now an early October date is unlikely. Throw in the fact Wilder also underwent bicep surgery after the rematch, and it’s easy to see why the fight even happening this year is not 100 percent certain.
The second fight produced a live gate of just shy of $17m – a record for a heavyweight bout – and Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum has repeatedly said it’s virtually impossible to see the third meeting happening behind closed doors. The financial hole would simply be too big to fill.
Arum says Saturday December 19, 2020 is the likeliest date with TV networks Fox and ESPN both on board for another blockbusting joint pay-per-view promotion.
Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas – the new home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders – had looked set to stage the bout but now an alternative site will likely be required after the Raiders announced in early August that the stadium will be closed to fans for the entirety of the 2020 football season due to the ongoing pandemic.
Other potential venues mooted have been Macau, Australia and Saudi Arabia – but everything remains up in the air as it is difficult to find a territory right now that is not suffering due to COVID-19.
As for the latest betting odds, Fury is a best-priced 1.29 with Wilder available at 4.
Joshua has not fought since regaining his titles in Saudi Arabia in December 2019 – courtesy of avenging his only professional defeat so far at the hands of Ruiz Jr. He had been due to meet 39-year-old Bulgarian mandatory challenger Pulev (28-1) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20 but that date was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday December 5 now appears to be the likeliest rescheduled date as organisers give themselves as long as possible to find a scenario where they can accommodate a live gate as the sport tiptoes its way carefully out of the pandemic.
London’s O2 Arena will likely stage the bout and Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn believes there remains “a strong chance” the event will have to take place behind closed doors. He also says Joshua would be willing to take what would be a £5million financial hit by not having a live gate.
Joshua, not surprisingly, is a heavy betting favourite with the oddsmakers – he’s a 1.11 shot while Pulev is a distant 8 outsider.
Whyte’s Povetkin shocker clears alphabet path
Alexander Povetkin’s upset stoppage of Dillian Whyte on Saturday August 22 appears to have smoothed the path considerably to a massive unification showdown between Fury and Joshua.
We know if Fury and Joshua fought today it would be for all the marbles – all the heavyweight belts currently reside in the UK (Fury is the WBC king while Joshua holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts).
But their interim commitments had been mounting up, with Fury not only having to meet Deontay Wilder in that trilogy fight but also ordered to then defend the WBC belt against Whyte – were he to defeat Povetkin.
But the 40-year-old Russian tore up that script with a beautiful left uppercut to close the show at Matchroom Fight Camp in Brentwood, Essex – and that means Fury is now effectively free to take on Joshua if he overcomes Wilder.
Joshua meanwhile has slick former cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk (17-0) as his mandatory for the WBO belt, so it remains to be seen whether that will become an obstacle to Fury and Joshua meeting in the summer of 2021.
The Promoters: Hearn, Warren & Arum an all-star cast
Many megafights down the years have either never happened or been severely delayed because of promotional politics. With the assembled cast for this one, it would be easy to believe history might repeat itself.
But money talks and the noises from both camps so far have been positive. Matchroom supremo Hearn says his man Joshua wants the fight now and that he can easily see a double-header with Fury in 2021.
Frank Warren meanwhile, whose Queensberry Promotions promotes Fury along with Arum, says all parties are on the same page and working towards a mega deal to put boxing on the front pages.
Top Rank chief Arum – the elderly scholar of boxing promotion at the ripe old age of 88 – is predicting one of the biggest events ever. The controversial Daniel Kinahan though – subject of heavy media coverage for his alleged gangland past after Fury lauded him for “getting the deal over the line” – will now step back from negotiations per an announcement from Arum to The Telegraph on June 24.
Put simply, with this cast the negotiations outside the ropes will be just as fascinating as the pugilism inside them. The end result is likely to be a huge event and payday for all concerned.
A golden ticket: the battle for TV rights
Joshua’s points victory over Ruiz Jr in Riyadh last December set a new British record for pay-per-view buys with 1.6m people spending £24.99 to watch the bout on Sky Box Office. That figure will likely be obliterated if and when Fury and Joshua finally get in a ring together.
But there are hurdles to overcome from a TV perspective before that happens. Sky as noted show Joshua’s fights in the UK at present, while Fury currently airs on BT Box Office.
Meanwhile in the US Fury has two fights remaining on a reported $80m deal with ESPN, while Joshua has recently aired Stateside on fledgling streaming service DAZN.
There have been joint PPV promotions down the years – for example when Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao finally got it on in 2015 to set the all-time record for buys with 4.6m at $99 a time. That bout was aired both by HBO and Showtime.
The fight for the TV rights will be another fascinating sub-plot. Will DAZN – reportedly struggling to find cash to secure its future – go for broke and use this fight as the driver for its planned global rollout? Could this be a tantalising opportunity for Amazon to move into big-time boxing with its Prime Video subscription platform? And who will win the battle of the UK behemoths, Sky and BT?
Right time, right place
Right after the TV battle comes the battle to actually host the fight. There has already been talk of offers of hundreds of million dollars from the likes of Saudi Arabia to stage a Fury vs Joshua showdown. The Far East is another potential landing spot.
Las Vegas would surely be in the mix, although how much cut-through would two Britons get fighting on the Strip?
Of course the ideal venue would be outdoors at Wembley Stadium in London, England in front of a raucous crowd of 90,000 creating an enormous live gate to swell the coffers.
But will COVID subside sufficiently to allow the fight to take place in the UK? And can the UK even afford it? We can only sit, and wait, and hope.
Summary: So when will Fury vs Joshua actually happen
While we’d love to tell you otherwise, it is 99.99 percent certain the fight will not happen in 2020. Both fighters have bouts to negotiate this year and the COVID-19 pandemic is already making even that a difficult task.
Throw in the fact that contracts have still to be signed, TV rights and site still to be agreed, and it’s clear to see that 2021 will be the earliest opportunity for Fury vs Joshua.
You should then factor in that both fighters will likely be appearing in the final month of this year, and the likelihood is that six months will be needed for them to prepare physically, and for the promoters to build the buzz, for such a mega event.
The good news though is that Whyte’s defeat by Povetkin removes a major obstacle to that summer 2021 dream date.
So at this stage, it appears most likely that the pair will meet for the first time next May or June. It promises to be quite a ride…