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The two-fight deal announced earlier this week between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, the titans of heavyweight boxing, is attracting enormous interest globally and the betting markets are extremely active. WBC World Champion Tyson Fury is the man to beat according to the bookies, with William Hill for example offering odds of 4/7 that the Gypsy King will beat WBO, WBA and IBF champion Anthony Joshua.
The bout between the two men will be one of the top sporting events of the year and Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has revealed that a number of venues are battling to stage the fight, with Saudi Arabia the favourite location so far. There is speculation that the first fight alone, expected to take place in early summer, may generate £200 million at least, with the two boxers splitting the takings between them. It is thought that the second bout later in the year could take place in Joshua’s home city, London.
Fury won his last bout in February 2020 against former WBC champion Deontay Wilder in a technical knock-out during their rematch in Las Vegas. The 32-year old has a legion of fans, including Mike Tyson and Joe Calzaghe who both reckon he will beat Joshua. Tyson says “It’s very interesting, Joshua is a masterful puncher. But you can see his punches coming, he telegraphs his punches. And that’s just a recipe for disaster if you’re fighting Tyson Fury and you’re telegraphing your punches – to a guy who is 6ft 7in, come on.”
But there are plenty of supporters for Anthony Joshua too. The troubled childhood of the 31-year old from Watford is now a distant memory for the boxer who said a while ago that his goal is to become a billionaire. Joshua certainly has a few quid in the bank now, some $80million to date, but he has some way to reach billionaire status; the two bouts with Fury will definitely help him out! His last fight was against Kubrat Pulev in December last year and he won by knockout in the ninth round, retaining his WBA, WBO and IBF titles in the process.
Wladmiri Klitshcko, whom Joshua defeated in a memorable bout at Wembley in 2017, reckons that Joshua will win and says “Joshua is a superior athlete, great fighter, Olympic champion. Most importantly, he’s a great guy, who carries the torch of this image of a heavyweight champion perfectly. I’m proud to call him a friend, even though we were (rivals). And I think and I wish that eventually Joshua is going to unify all of the belts. That’s the eventual plan.”
The big imponderable about the bout is the physical condition of Tyson Fury. It is no secret that the Gypsy King has had mental health struggles and his weight swings are legendary, as are his Herculean efforts to shift the beef. A few years ago Joshua was pretty blunt about his rival, urging him to “Get fit, you fat f***”. And Fury can, when he needs to, get fit and dramatically lose weight too. But a recent Instagram story showed Fury running into the sea at Morecambe and it is fair to say that the charismatic fighter is carrying excess baggage with him which may neutralise one of his key weapons against Joshua, his speed in the ring. Fans have responded with dismay, with one saying “Looking a bit heavy, time to get in a camp”. More positively, another fan made reference to Fury’s victory in his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, commenting “Looks in similar shape to that famous ‘you got beat by a fat man’ rematch press conference”.
Despite concerns about his shape, Fury remains favourite to win the bout with Fury’s superior reach and speed (assuming he regains top form) decisive factors. Bookies consider a draw unlikely with odds of 22/1 from Paddy Power representative of the market.
Sky has a contract with Hearn and Joshua himself to broadcast all of Joshua’s fights, and BT has a similar contract with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions on behalf of Fury. British fans of the two boxers can expect to pay up £40 to watch the first bout this summer on either service. Negotiations are currently underway for the broadcasting rights in the United States and other countries.