At first glance, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte can’t agree on fellow British heavyweight Anthony Joshua.
This week, Fury invited former two-time unified champion Joshua to be in his corner when he defends his WBC title at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.
In this unprecedented era of blockbuster fights in British arenas, Joshua is largely conspicuous by his absence. Ever since 80,000 watched Carl Froch knock out George Groves in his farewell appearance at Wembley in 2014, these nights have generally been AJ nights.
Joshua’s thrilling round 11 victory over Wladimir Klitschko kicked off a run of four consecutive capacity shows at Wembley and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, with Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin defeated by the London 2012 Olympic gold medalist.
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A showdown with Fury in a similar setting felt inevitable, but Joshua is outside watching as Whyte gets his long-awaited opportunity. Fury’s claims this week that he will retire after facing Whyte mean the ship could definitely have sailed on British boxing’s biggest fight.
It’s a typically frustrating story of boxing politics and irritating bad timing.
Why didn’t Tyson Fury fight Anthony Joshua after he beat Wladimir Klitschko?
When Fury scored a big upset victory with a masterful performance against Klitschko in Dusseldorf in 2015, the prospect of a reunion with Joshua was already bubbling up nicely.
The following month, Joshua earned the best win of his 15-fight career with a seventh-round knockout of Whyte in a barn at the O2 Arena, a contest that enhanced the reputations and highlighted the vulnerabilities of the top two heavyweight prospects. From great britain.
Joshua’s graduation from prospect to champion was swift when, just four months later, he stopped the outmatched Charles Martin in two rounds to lift the IBF title.
That was one of the belts Fury took from Klitschko, but the IBF stripped him for agreeing to a rematch with the Ukrainian great rather than face his mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov, who suffered a knee injury in their January fight. 2016, announcing a TKO victory. for Martin and one of the shortest and most forgettable reigns in heavyweight history.
Joshua began to build something much more substantial, unifying by winning the WBA title against Klitschko and the WBO by beating Parker.
Those belts were available because Fury sank into a battle with drinking, drugs and depression that saw him gain weight and spend more than two and a half years out of the ring.
After his classic up-and-down with Klitschko, a delusional and possibly shocked Joshua called out Fury immediately afterward. But at the time, in April 2017, the main focus was WBC champion and knockout specialist Deontay Wilder.
Why did Deontay Wilder fight Tyson Fury instead of Anthony Joshua?
Negotiations for a Joshua vs. Wilder became increasingly adversarial, with claims, counterclaims and promotional interests on both sides, meaning a deal remained elusive.
Instead, Wilder agreed to face Fury in December 2018 after the former champion had a pair of low-key tune-up fights against Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta. Joshua felt that he saw through the Bronze Bomber’s game.
“I know the strategy for him is to fight Fury after a three-year layoff,” he told Sky News. “He has a good chance of beating him. He’ll raise his profile so that when he comes back to the negotiating table he’ll have a better leg to stand on.”
It was a plan that backfired, both for Wilder immediately and for Joshua in the long run.
Fury outboxed Wilder for most of their opening fight, but two knockdowns, the last leading to the remarkable “resurrection” of Gypsy King in the twelfth round, saw him salvage a tie on the cards. There were scores to be settled, the audience was spellbound, and Fury and Wilder were locked in each other’s orbit.
When they met for the second time in February 2020, with Fury knocking out Wilder in his first career loss in seven rounds, Joshua had suffered a shock loss to Andy Ruiz in his US debut and avenged that setback in Arabia. Arabia at the end of 2019.
A few weeks after a packed MGM Grand in Las Vegas basked in Fury’s bravura, the world changed. The coronavirus pandemic made blockbuster heavyweight matchups with massive crowds a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.
Did Tyson Fury agree to fight Anthony Joshua?
In late 2020, Joshua fulfilled his IBF tenure with a sanctioned win over Kubrat Pulev before a limited crowd at Wembley Arena. That cleared the way for a Fury vs. Joshua and the boxing camps have agreed to a two-fight deal in March 2021, with the first fight scheduled for August.
That’s still the closest they’ve come to sharing a ring competitively because Wilder had an ace up his sleeve. At a May 2021 arbitration hearing, Wilder was ruled contractually entitled to a third fight with Fury.
MORE: How Tyson Fury overcame drugs and mental health torment to rule the heavyweight world
At the time, this pleased hardly anyone outside of Wilder’s immediate circle. Fury was seen to conclusively settle the argument in his second fight, calling his foe a “joke” for allegedly demanding $20 million to step aside and allow the Joshua fight.
Joshua directed his anger at Fury: “The world now sees you as the fraud you are. You have let boxing down!” he tweeted.
“You lied to the fans and you misled them. You used my name to influence, not to fight. Bring me any championship fighter who can run his business properly.”
After the final installment of the Fury vs. Wilder, 11 brutal rounds in which both men hit the canvas and the Brit emerged victorious, no one looked like a fraud and no one felt let down. Out of the utter confusion came a heavyweight contest for the ages.
They boxed two weeks after Joshua had the misfortune to meet a championship fighter who could handle his business very well.
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk mesmerized and outclassed an unusually timid Joshua to take all three of his belts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
AJ must now face Usyk again, a completely different animal than Ruiz, who just seemed to have eaten several different animals before their second encounter. He would be a narrow underdog going into that fiendishly difficult task, while Fury and Whyte spent Friday sharing banter and dancing at their weigh-in.
At least part of the collective elation seems to come from leaving their mutual rival, the golden boy destined to be the master of such occasions, on the outside looking in. At least on that, they agree.
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