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Discussion: Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua – who’s the better boxer?

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It has been a seismic start to 2020 for Tyson Fury. After being cruelly denied a win on points in his first bout WBC heavyweight bout with Deontay Wilder, Fury trained harder and smarter for their rematch – and it showed.

With extra weight, power and confidence, Fury looked like a man possessed in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, eventually winning by technical knockout in the seventh round.

Unfortunately for Fury, the fight that he and the rest of British boxing fans want has been denied, at least for another six months. Wilder has activated the rematch clause in their contract to fight for a third and final time, putting plans for an all-British duel between Fury and WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on hold. That hasn’t stopped the British media salivating over the prospect of staging one of the sport’s biggest heavyweight bouts in history, as pundits and former boxers weigh up the likely outcome of any future fight.

Fury is finally starting to get the recognition and respect he deserves. His two valiant displays against Wilder appear to have opened the bookmakers’ eyes to his abilities. Betway has markets for potential bouts and lists Fury as a 4/9 favourite against Joshua. Former heavyweight boxing icon Mike Tyson believes the fight would be much harder to predict, but told The Sportsman that it’s one that must happen given that the pair are in “the best shape possible”.

Weighing up the pros and cons of Fury and Joshua

Anthony Joshua is someone that many sceptics have labelled a boxing ‘brand’ rather than a legitimate boxing great. It’s fair to say that he’s had lots of media and sponsorship interest, particularly after his success at the 2012 Olympic Games. Few could argue with the beginning of his professional career though, particularly after overcoming a gruelling encounter with Dillian Whyte for the British heavyweight title. Joshua then bagged the IBF heavyweight belt after a comprehensive victory over Charles Martin, whose reign as IBF champion was the second shortest in professional boxing – just 85 days.

April 2017 was the moment Joshua announced himself as a potential great by flooring heavyweight icon Wladimir Klitschko at a packed Wembley Stadium. Cynics might suggest that Klitschko was well past his best, which was partly proved when Klitschko refused a rematch and retired from the sport weeks afterwards.

Bouts with Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin uncovered some potential flaws in Joshua’s game. He was unable to hurt Parker too much, while Povetkin had Joshua in big trouble early on before running out of stamina. The defeat to Ruiz Jr. also highlighted Joshua’s questionable chin, but he does deserve plenty of respect for the way he won the rematch in Saudi Arabia. It demonstrated Joshua’s commitment to the sport and how efficient he can be when he focuses for the full 12 rounds.

As for Fury, this was a character that was still largely underrated despite shocking Klitschko in November 2015. That victory was no mean feat, with Klitschko barely able to lay a glove on Fury throughout. Fury’s battles with mental health in the subsequent years after this win are well-documented. It took him over two years to rid himself of his demons and for the British Boxing Board of Control to renew his boxing licence. After a couple of non-descript victories over Seferi and Pianeta, few could have predicted he would give Deontay Wilder so many problems in their first bout. Fury gained immense respect after getting up off the canvas twice to earn a valiant draw and a rematch.

During Fury’s career up to this point, he was very rarely the aggressor in his contests. It was his impeccable defence and timing that tipped the balance in his favour. Nevertheless, Fury demonstrated a new dimension to his game in the Wilder rematch, fighting on the front foot and taking it to Wilder – something that took the ‘Bronze Bomber’ by total surprise. Few could have predicted Fury winning by technical knockout, but that’s what happened.

Boxers that stick and move against Anthony Joshua tend to struggle, as the likes of Parker and Povetkin prove. If Fury goes toe-to-toe with Joshua and boxes on the front foot, it’s hard to see Joshua having an answer to Fury’s technical prowess. Few heavyweight boxers have the all-round skillset of Tyson Fury and it’s great to see the sporting world finally acknowledging it.