Over the last few years, the names Fury, Wilder, and Joshua have dominated the headlines when talking about boxing’s heavyweight division. Who of the three would be able to prove they are the best of the rest, the undisputed champion? Finally, in 2021, we may be able to answer the question.
“This is the biggest fight in boxing and one of the biggest sporting events in the world,” Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn stated to ESPN. “It will be a major, major win for a country that wants to showcase itself.”
Last year, the two British fighters verbally agreed on a deal to fight in 2021. It will be a two-fight deal between the two, with a 50-50 split in the first fight and a 60-40 split in the rematch. The winner will take the higher share. As far as when, the report goes on to say that the first bout could be in June or July, with the second taking place sometime in November or December.
If this fight took place without hiccups, it could be one to remember.
A 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Joshua made his professional debut in 2013. Winning the Commonwealth and British Heavyweight Title, Joshua would beat Charles Martin in 2016 to win the IBF Heavyweight Title. He would then beat Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA and IBO Heavyweight Titles and Joseph Parker for the WBO title. Joshua was on a run to remember until he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. back in 2019. Inside Madison Square Garden, a defeated Joshua vowed to get his titles back.
Before 2019 ended, Joshua beat Ruiz in Saudi Arabia in an effortless affair. His last fight was a knockout win over Kubrat Pulev in December.
Fury, the lineal heavyweight champion, beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to win all the gold. Injuries, drugs, and suspensions haunted him soon after, but he was able to make a major comeback. Fighting Deontay Wilder in 2018 for the WBC Heavyweight Title, the bout ended in a draw. The fight was notable for Fury coming right back up from a knockout punch in round twelve.
Signing a deal with Top Rank, Fury cruised past Tom Schwarz and almost lost to Otto Wallin. After those fights came the Wilder rematch. In one of the last big events of 2020 before COVID-19 shut everything down, Fury decimated Wilder, whose corner stopped the fight in the seventh round. Fury won the WBC and The Ring Heavyweight Title that night.
As previously mentioned, there need to be no hiccups for this fight to take place. The fight still needs a venue, and Hearn has been hoping to have it either in England or (realistically) Saudi Arabia. One of the major factors in people being skeptical about the fight happening is the site fee. A Top Rank official told ESPN that both parties have 30 days to come up with an agreement. The Athletic is reporting that this fight could generate a fee of over $100 million.
While vaccine rollout is underway, COVID-19 is still a major issue in the world. Saudi Arabia has over 382,752 cases of COVID-19 with over 6,500 deaths, according to John Hopkins University. There are not many fans welcome at sporting events as of now. In the United Kingdom, there are over 4,200,00 cases with over 125,000 deaths.
“It’s taken us a long time to get all the parties to put pen to paper, now we’re in a position to go to interested sites and confirm that a deal is in place,” Hearn told The Athletic. “We will be moving forward and all have discussions with interested countries to negotiate where this fight will take place. We will then report back to the fighters and teams and collectively make a decision on the territory of the fight.”
At first, it appeared that heavyweight contenders would get in the way of this fight happening. Wilder is still looking for a trilogy bout with Fury, while Oleksandr Usyk is considered the WBO mandatory for Joshua. It appears that hurdle has been taken care of.
There’s also the emotional factor. The inactivity when it came to the booking of the clash was getting to Fury, who stopped training and voiced his displeasure at Top Rank and others for the lack of updates.
“You never really know with Tyson,” Hearn ended up stating to ESPN. “It could be mind games. He could be having a bad day. He could be a little pissed off. Or he could be having a joke.”
Both Joshua and Fury clearly want the fight to happen. The TV deals shouldn’t be an issue with DAZN and ESPN ponying up for rights. In boxing, however, nothing is guaranteed unless the date is announced. The location and fee will be a big factor. With any luck, it won’t rob the world of this historic matchup.