World heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have put pen to paper on an eagerly anticipated two-fight deal, according to Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn.
Joshua holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts, while Fury is the WBC champion. The winner of their first bout would become the unified heavyweight champion of the world.
“All parties have now put pen to paper and we will be working hard over the next few weeks to confirm the site and date for the biggest fight in boxing,” said Hearn. He added that the promoters aim to have a venue “confirmed in the next month”, having received offers from the Middle East, Asia, eastern Europe and America.
No boxer has ever held all four belts before. Britain’s Lennox Lewis was the last unified world heavyweight champion, but he only held the WBA, IBF and WBC belts, as there was no requirement to hold the WBO belt to be recognised as the unified champion back then.
The showdown between Joshua and Fury promises to be the biggest bout in British boxing history – and the bookmakers have installed Fury as the clear favourite.
The Gypsy King is best priced at just 4/7 (1.57) with William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair to secure victory in the fight. Betway will only go to 4/9 on a Fury win. It makes Joshua the 7/4 (2.75) underdog, while most bookies have priced him at 11/8 (2.38).
Fury remains unbeaten in his career. He first became world champion when he beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, but eventually vacated his belts after spending time away from the ring while wrestling with personal demons. After a two-and-a-half year absence from boxing, he returned to beat Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta, which saw him secure a title shot against WBC champion Deontay Wilder.
The fight ended in a controversial draw, as most commentators felt that Fury had done enough to win the fight. He destroyed Wilder in a rematch in February 2020, knocking the American down several times en route to a seventh round triumph. He now has a 30-0-1 record.
Joshua’s unbeaten record came to an end when he suffered a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019. He regained his belts by winning a rematch six months later, and he then took his record to 24-1 by beating Kubrat Pulev in December 2020.
The Olympic gold medallist has beaten many of the world’s best heavyweights, including Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, Joshua Parker and Dillian Whyte, but he has arguably not yet faced a fighter like Fury.
The Gypsy King is three inches taller than Joshua and he has a three inch reach advantage. His movement is superb for a man of his size, and he can put on a defensive masterclass against Joshua if he so desires.
However, Fury was uncharacteristically aggressive in the rematch against Wilder, as he stood in the centre of the ring and unleashed a barrage of blows upon his hapless opponent.
It will be fascinating to see how Fury approaches a showdown with Joshua. AJ has been more restrained and patient since losing to Ruiz, but he still has a tendency to let his guard down and take risks, which could be dangerous against a fighter of Fury’s calibre.
You can check out the method of victory market if you want to find more value. The most popular option among punters right now is Fury by knockout, which is priced at 9/4 (3.25) with Paddy Power.
However, the shortest priced option is Fury by decision at 15/8 (2.87). The Gypsy King has 21 wins by knockout and 10 by decision during his career.
Joshua is 5/2 (3.50) to win by knockout and a massive 7/1 (8.00) to win by decision, so he could have to come out all guns blazing if he is to secure victory in this fight. A draw is priced at 22/1 (23.00).