Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury: The path to ‘The Battle of Britain’ is there once again

Fury vs Joshua… here we go again (Picture: Getty)

We have been down this road a few times before and it has never ended well. But bear with us – there is once again fresh hope boxing can finally deliver Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua.

Since 2021, the ‘Battle of Britain’ has repeatedly fallen by the wayside, almost becoming a lost cause with both men moving in different directions away from the other. While there are significant hurdles in the way, there is optimism they can be brought together again.

On Friday night, Anthony Joshua will take on Francis Ngannou, the former UFC champion who gave Fury real problems on his boxing debut last year.

Fury and Oleksandr Usyk meanwhile meet on the rescheduled date on 18 May, a bout which will crown the heavyweight division’s first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis 25 years ago.

Both fights will take place in Saudi Arabia which has become the new home of boxing’s blue-riband division over the last six months.

Turki Alalshikh, the head of Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the man responsible for bringing together boxing’s biggest names in the region, revealed in January he wants the winners of those respective bouts to collide – most likely in 2025.

Both Fury and Joshua confirmed those plans this week, with ‘The Gypsy King’ set to be ringside watching the action on Friday night.

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou fight this week

Joshua and Ngannou meet on Friday night (Picture: Getty)

Ngannou and Usyk will of course have other ideas and as Deontay Wilder’s shock defeat in December proved, long-term planning in the heavyweight division is a dangerous game.

But with Saudi’s backing, Frank Smith, CEO of Matchroom, believes many of the old obstacles have now been removed.  

‘The fight is too big not to happen,’ Smith told Metro.co.uk. ‘We would all love to come into it with both Joshua and Fury coming off the back of big wins, but both have very hard fights. Francis Ngannou showed exactly what he is capable of six months ago against Fury. And we know how good Usyk is.

‘But I’m very confident we make it and make it one of the biggest in boxing history. And with the investment His Excellency [Turki Alalshik] and Saudi have put into the sport, I don’t think there are any stumbling blocks around that fight.’

Tyson Fury will be in attendance at Joshua vs Ngannou

Fury will be ringside with his brother Roman also fighting on the card (Picture: Getty)

Joshua and Fury have been promoted by Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren respectively with those two sharing a rivalry as bitter as anything in the ring. For years, they did not speak, let alone sit around the negotiating table but those old wounds have healed with Hearn and Warren working together with Saudi.

‘It is something that we have never had in the past,’ Smith said.

‘There was always a back and forth but the reality now is we can all sit around the table together and have discussions as a group, something we couldn’t do before. We can work together and it takes away any of the animosity that may have been there. We just want to create the best nights possible, and this relationship helps that.’

Contractual agreements may prohibit Fury vs Joshua happening immediately after their next fights. Fury and Usyk are expected to have a rematch later in the year – at which point the new undisputed champion may be forced to vacate the IBF title.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk in May

Fury and Usyk will meet on 18 May (Picture: Getty)

Filip Hrgovic is the mandatory challenger for that belt and is overdue his title shot. In a scenario where the belt becomes vacant, the Croatian would fight the next ranked contender with the sanctioning body. That happens to be Anthony Joshua.

‘I would expect Filip Hrgovic would get his shot after the 18 May fight,’ Smith said. ‘That mandatory title defence will be due then and then Hrgovic will either fight the [Fury vs Usyk] winner, which is unlikely because we believes there is a rematch clause, or the AJ fight for the vacant world title. It could be possible for the summer.’

Once the dust settles there, Fury and Joshua could again be the last men standing, holding all the gold.

But not if Ngannou and Usyk have anything to do with it. The Cameroonian demonstrated he is a legitimate threat with his sublime debut performance against Fury last October. The Gypsy King’s showdown with IBF, WBO and WBA world champion Usyk is a true 50-50 and many names in boxing are backing the masterful Ukrainian to make history at Fury’s expense.

Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren

Hearn and Warren now working together after years of animosity (Picture: Getty)

But even in a worse-case scenario, the appetite for Joshua vs Fury will likely remain. Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia was one of the biggest and most lucrative fights of 2023. With no world titles on the line that night, it proved getting the best in the ring together will always be a bigger selling point.

So could Joshua vs Fury be the same? ‘I think that fight happens and I honestly think it goes ahead, win lose or draw. AJ will have his view over what he wants to do. Historically, it has always been about that road to undisputed. But for a fight like Fury vs Joshua, in my opinion it doesn’t matter about the belts.

‘People have different drives and desires. For that fight as a standalone, it is certainly big enough. People just want to see the fights regardless of titles. And especially in heavyweight boxing, people don’t care about losses anymore.

‘Providing you go into real fights and give it everything, they don’t mind, they want to see it. Losses become secondary.’

Amid plenty of uncertainty, one thing seems clear, any Joshua vs Fury fight would surely be destined for Saudi Arabia. Wembley Stadium has long been the dream venue for a fight between Great Britain’s biggest boxing stars but with Saudi’s influence so significant, the prospects of it happening on UK soil are slim.

‘It’s the most likely scenario,’ Smith said. They [Saudi Arabia] want to put on the biggest nights possible. We are driven by them and their desires. It is big enough to happen anywhere in the world. But I do think with the trajectory we are on currently, that is the location it ends up in.’


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