Mark Keohane, writing for IOL Sport
The war is on: Tyson Fury against Anthony Joshua. It will be the biggest fight in British boxing history and it will rank as one of the most anticipated in the history of boxing.
This is the showdown the world of fighting has been waiting for ever since Fury battled his inner demons and two years of inactivity to return to the ring in 2018.
It doesn’t get bigger than the heavyweight division of boxing. And in the current climate of boxing and mixed martial arts, there isn’t a drawcard more appealing than the Gypsy King against the self-proclaimed king of the heavyweight division.
It seems like a lifetime ago when an undefeated and bullish Joshua called out Fury and told him: ‘Get fit you fat f***’.
Joshua’s voice was booming and the pedestal he stood on touched the sky. Fury’s life was a mess, battling depression, substance abuse and all sorts of addictions.
Fury had beaten Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
And then nothing.
Joshua was crowing and Fury was cowering from the monsters within.
Fast forward to 2021 and it’s a different song being played.
Fury sits atop his throne, a man finally content within and a man who has owned the stage with his stunning demolition of Deontay Wilder pre the Pandemic lockdown.
Fury humiliated Wilder in their second fight after the first one ended in a draw. Many critics felt Fury should have won on points but what robbed him of the win was a brutal knockdown in the 12th and final round. Fury’s ability to beat the count in that first fight was as sensational as the manner of his second fight win against Wilder.
Fury has lived large and fought large since Joshua labelled him a ‘fat f***’.
Joshua’s life hasn’t been as flush. He took a beating from Andy Ruiz Jr for a first ever professional defeat. Ruiz Jr clubbed Joshua into submission.
Fury was initially measured in tweeting: ‘We have our back and forths but @anthonyfjoshua changed his stars through life. Heavyweight boxing, these things happen, rest up, recover, regroup and come again.’
The civility didn’t last long.
When Joshua posted a picture of himself with the caption that ‘a great modern fighter will be able to compete in any era’, Fury responded with fury.
‘A great? My a***! You got ktfo by a chubby kid who had three weeks notice. You are great at looking good on pics I must say whit whooo …. xxx.’
Fury then called out Joshua, labelling him: ‘DOSSER’, and telling Home Fixture that Joshua’s style was ‘tailor-made for mine’
‘He is an upright fighter, walking forward with a classic defence. Strong and powerful, but he’s got no footwork, hardly any resilience and he’s gutless when it comes to getting clipped. I will knock him out in two or three rounds.
‘The first time I connect on him, his legs will do a dance and I’ll just jump on him like that fat kid did before. Easy, not a bother. I’ll tell you what shot it’s gonna be as well … a left hook to the temple. You are gonna see him do a Bambi dance all over the ring.’
Joshua refused to respond, instead complimenting Fury on his fight against mental health. The only time, he said, he would talk about Fury, is when they are signed to fight in the ring.
Well, that time has finally arrived and even though the dates haven’t been released for the two-fight deal, the who’s who of world boxing are already picking a winner, with Mike Tyson adamant that Fury will emerge victorious.
‘Joshua is a masterful puncher, but you can see his punches coming. He telegraphs his punches,’Tyson told TalkSport. ‘And that’s a recipe for disaster if you are fighting Tyson Fury and you are telegraphing your punches to a guy who is 6ft 9 inches, come on. It has to be Tyson Fury.’
Klistschko, who lost to both Fury and Joshua is insistent it will be Joshua.
‘Joshua is a superior athlete, great fighter and Olympic champion. He is also a great guy who carries the torch of this image of a heavyweight champion perfectly. I think and I wish that Joshua will unify all the belts.’
For the one former great who gives it to Fury, as Joe Calzaghe did, another gives it to Joshua, as in the case of Bernard Hopkins, who believes Joshua will knock out Fury.
Fury versus Joshua isn’t quite Ali versus Frazier or Ali versus Foreman. Neither is it Tyson versus Holyfield or Lewis versus Tyson …
But in 2021, it’s the biggest heavyweight fight of the century and another blow to cage fighting’s propaganda machine that sells itself as the ultimate combat sport and bigger than boxing.