It is a good time to be a British heavyweight boxer. All of the world championships in the sport are around the waists of either Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury.
That makes a super-fight between the two to crown an undisputed champion both wished for by boxing fans and necessary to determine who is the better fighter of their generation. However, the course of such things very rarely run so smooth in sport.
While Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn says a deal is in place for the bout everyone wants to see, there are certain conditions to be met. Before AJ can meet Fury, both men must come through title defences.
The Gypsy King himself has already admitted that whatever agreement exists in principle, Joshua v Fury is far from certain. Right now, there are four boxers who could prevent the all-British bout from being an undisputed title fight.
Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev should have fought Joshua way back in 2017 before getting injured. Well, better late than never as AJ will defend his IBF, IBO, WBA (Super) and WBO belts against him when next in action.
Joshua may be a hot favourite to defeat Pulev, who has only lost once in the paid ranks to Wladimir Klitschko, but he was also well-fancied to dispatch Andy Ruiz Jr. A stunning defeat at the hands of the Mexican-American was AJ’s first misstep in an otherwise flawless professional career.
While Joshua has since straightened the record by regaining all the gold from Ruiz, the road to Fury goes through Pulev. He cannot underestimate the Bulgarian because, as his recent experience should have taught him, upsets can happen even to AJ.
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk is a big danger and the WBO’s mandatory challenger for Joshua to fight next. Unbeaten in 17 fights, he very much looks to be the best boxer out of Ukraine since the Klitschko brothers.
Usyk is in line for a title shot and has every right to assert himself as the number one contender. There is no reason to expect him to step aside just because others want to see who the best of British is. Usyk is probably a bigger danger to the Joshua v Fury fight than Pulev.
There is a third British heavyweight to consider too. Dillian Whyte has enjoyed status as the WBC’s mandatory challenger for three years now, so Fury may end up fighting the Jamaica-born boxer before Joshua.
The Body Snatcher lost to AJ back in 2015 but has won all 11 subsequent fights to date. Whyte is tired of waiting for his title shot and has pursued legal action to assert his rights as number one contender. He defends that position yet again in a forthcoming encounter with Alexander Povetkin.
Although he has failed to beat Fury in two previous battles, Deontay Wilder will be hoping to regain the WBC title in the final fight of his trilogy with The Gypsy King. He had his rival floored twice in the first bout, but his corner threw in the towel in round seven of the rematch.
Wilder is out to avenge that first-ever professional loss, and that makes him dangerous. Just like with Pulev for Joshua, Fury cannot take his eye off the ball and look beyond dealing with The Bronze Bomber first. If their rivalry to date is anything to go by, we are guaranteed more drama.