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Inside story of Anthony Joshua’s undisputed fight with Tyson Fury

Anthony Joshua has been here before.

Last summer he rocked up in New York for what most people believed was a gimme against Andy Ruiz Jr.

The chubby Mexican-American had stepped in for Jarrell Miller at a month’s notice and looked happy just to be in the Big Apple.

He posed with Joshua’s belts as if he’d won a competition while the champion looked ahead to a potential undisputed clash with Deontay Wilder.

Then it all went wrong.

Joshua hit the Madison Square Garden canvas four times before the fight was stopped and his reign as world champion halted.

The Londoner regrouped and outpointed Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia six months later to wrestle back his belts.

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And six months on he fights Kubrat Pulev with another rival waiting in the wings.

This time Tyson Fury is the ‘other’ world champion in the undisputed conversation, but this time the fight is much more likely to happen.

It is sixth months since news came from nowhere that the rivals had agreed terms in principle to fight twice in 2021.

The purse will be split 50/50 and the intention is that all four world titles will be on the line in order to crown the first undisputed heavyweight world champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.

That plan could yet be spoiled by Oleksandr Usyk who can demand his shot at the WBO belt – likely against Joe Joyce – and force Joshua to vacate.

The path to Joshua vs Fury has never been clearer thanks to the latter’s trilogy fight with Wilder falling through.

Wilder activated the rematch clause in his contract following his seventh-round stoppage defeat by Fury earlier this year.

But the coronavirus crisis pushed the fight back from July to first October and then December.

Tyson Fury won’t face Deontay Wilder again

When a date could not be agreed with the television networks in America, Fury was asked to reschedule for 2021 – but he refused.

Claiming he was no longer contracted to a third fight, he walked away from his rivalry with Wilder, leaving the former champion furious.

Wilder is challenging Fury’s decision but the Brit’s team do not expect to have to face the Bronze Bomber again.

Nevertheless, unfortunately Fury declined an invitation to be ringside at Wembley Arena tonight – the head-to-head photo alone would have gone viral and created a huge buzz.

But as long as Joshua comes through against the Bulgarian Pulev, talks will be escalated in the coming days and weeks.

The purse split was always considered the biggest stumbling block with both men claiming over the years that they were entitled to the lion’s share.

With that resolved, the remaining hurdles are the venue and the television networks, but promoter Eddie Hearn is confident they can be easily agreed.

Assuming Joshua wins tonight, Hearn wants a contract signed quickly so that the fight can go out to tender, as it were.

Anthony Joshua faces Kubrat Pulev tonight

Countries across the world will be invited to pitch offers to host what will be the biggest fight in boxing since Floyd Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

That means the Middle East is likely to be the destination with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai all in the running.

Questions will be asked over why the fight can’t be held at Wembley but quite simply, money talks, with Hearn estimating Joshua and Fury would need to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

And just as Mayweather vs Pacquiao was shown on HBO and Showtime in America, Sky Sports and BT Sport could surely do a deal that allows them both to show Joshua vs Fury.

Simple, right?

Over to you, Anthony.




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