A showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, the biggest fight to be made in the world right now, looks closer than ever to fruition after Joshua stopped the tough-as-old-boots Kubrat Pulev inside nine rounds at the Wembley Arena on Saturday night. The message from both fighters since the dust settled has been clear - “Let’s get it on!”
Fight fans rejoice, for a bona fide Battle of Britain is almost upon us, with talk of a fight as early as the first half of next year. The stars have aligned and now these two British titans, who are unquestionably the two best heavyweights on the planet right now (we’ll leave it to you to decide which way round), are on a collision course with one another, potentially for the undisputed championship - a preposterous notion a decade ago.
But why only potentially? Unfortunately there’s an Oleksandr Usyk-sized problem in the equation, the rightful mandatory to Joshua’s WBO strap. The dust had hardly settled at Wembley, when WBO president Paco Valcarcel made it clear that Joshua would not be granted any more exceptions over his mandatories, having taken two already - against Pulev and in his rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua has expressed an interest in fighting fellow Olympic gold medallist Usyk but it seems unlikely that he would risk bulldozing the most lucrative fight in the world just for the honour.
His promoter, Eddie Hearn, also believes he’ll drop the belt. Speaking to Behind The Gloves after this weekend’s fight he said, “I just saw a tweet from Paco Valcarcel saying we know our commitments, and yes our mandatory is Oleksandr Usyk.
“But if the WBO don’t want to be part of the undisputed fight, the biggest fight in boxing, the biggest fight of all time, there’s nothing we can do about it.
“If they won’t, then we’ll speak to Oleksandr Usyk and try to agree something. If we can’t, we’ll vacate the belt.”
There’s also Fury’s WBC belt. Whilst it should stay in ‘the Gypsy King’s’ grasp until a showdown with AJ, should it go ahead, anyone who’s been following this division over the last year will know that Deontay Wilder, whom Fury snatched the title from, is still making a lot of noise regarding a third fight with the Briton, which he feels he is obliged to. Yet another obstacle to overcome should we get this fight.
Making this fight should be a no-brainer but sadly it’s a sport that is often hamstrung by politics and an abundance of belts and governing bodies. Should we be worried? No - Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury will almost certainly go ahead in 2021. Will it be for the undisputed championship? Probably not. It might take the shine off what could be one of the biggest sporting events in British history but it’s unlikely many will care too much as long as they step in the ring together.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the mouth-watering prospect of Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury but don’t be surprised if we bump into a few obstacles along the way.