Anthony Joshua has three of the four recognized major heavyweight titles, and Tyson Fury has one. (Give me a minute here, I’ll get to it.)
Joshua thinks that’s plenty enough reason for the two to fight, and I’m sure most fans would agree. There hasn’t been a true undisputed heavyweight champion in over 20 years, dating back to Lennox Lewis beating Evander Holyfield with the WBC, WBA, and IBF titles at stake. (The WBO wasn’t yet a recognized major body, boxing let that happen later.)
AJ is again calling Fury out for an undisputed championship fight.
“Come fight me. If you really want to say you’re number one, come fight me,” Joshua said. “Let’s get it on. I’ve got the rest of the belts, so it only makes sense. That proves that I’m the unified heavyweight champion of the world. He’s the WBC champion of the world. What that will prove, me and him fighting, is that there will be one dominant figure in the heavyweight division that will have all of the belts and become undisputed.
“Logically, it says to prove yourself as number one, I have to fight Tyson Fury, he has to fight Anthony Joshua. And it will be cause for a great announcement after this whole pandemic we’re facing right now.”
Of course, apart from being WBC titleholder, Fury is also LINEAL!!!!!!!!! champion of the world, and Tyson’s really not driven by belts. Joshua’s challenge might be more intriguing to Tyson if he hadn’t lost last year to Andy Ruiz Jr, and even by beating him decisively in the rematch six months later, there’s really nobody out there apart from DAZN and dodgy internet votes claiming that AJ is the No. 1 heavyweight in the sport.
Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, has been aggressively pushing this as a major fight for when boxing comes back, but there are a few problems here:
- AJ has mandatory challengers lined up in Kubrat Pulev, who might take money to step aside but has thus far denied having any intention to do so. He was scheduled to fight Joshua on June 20, which has been postponed, but IBF mandatory challenger Pulev seems intent on keeping that fight. There’s also Oleksandr Usyk, the WBA mandatory challenger, waiting in the wings after.
- Fury has a contractually obligated third fight with Deontay Wilder to deal with, and Wilder doesn’t seem to have any intention of stepping aside, either. Todd duBoef of Top Rank, one of Fury’s promoters, has said he doesn’t see a path to the fight right now.
- The pandemic AJ mentions seems more and more likely to keep the sporting world stalled a lot longer than most people initially hoped. The only major promoters that even have hopeful fights on the calendar right now are Matchroom and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, all of those shows in the UK. But it seems incredibly unlikely that we’ll be packing arenas in June or July, be they in Las Vegas or London or Latvia. The more realistic hope right now might be getting some empty venue fights going by the summer. And the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world doesn’t seem like an empty venue fight to me. That’d be a lot of gate money left on the table. We might get to where that’s just how it is, but nobody would want to do it unless completely and totally necessary, with no other options. And there firmly being “no other options” will not come up in 2020.
I’m not trying to be negative or a downer, I’d love to see the fight. I’m more interested in that fight, by far, than any other option for these guys right now. But the roadblocks are what they are, and they’re very real.