In 2020, while Deontay Wilder was scheduled to fight Tyson Fury, I was living in London. Every Englishman that I spoke with was damn near excited and proud of Tyson Fury getting ready to take on Wilder in what was being referred to as the match of the decade. Every pub that I visited seemed interested in what was about to happen. Wilder was the first American Heavyweight champion in roughly a decade. He held the title from 2015 to 2020, having 10 fights in that period, not losing any but tying in one match with Tyson Fury. Wilder was critiqued for being one dimensional. Wilder’s right hand is considered to be one of the most formidable punches in boxing history.
Having fought Fury though it seemed that all of the United Kingdom and even some Americans doubted that his reign as champion would last beyond 2020. In February of 2020, Wilder was scheduled to fight Fury again. Just as predicted, Fury brawled with Wilder and wore him out to the point of exhaustion and is now currently the Heavyweight Champion of the world. Currently, Fury eyes remaining champion for as long as he can. The only choice it seems that stands in Fury’s way is Anthony Joshua. Joshua’s style has benefitted him in the past but it seems he is still recovering from the damage of losing to Anthony Ruiz.
1. An All UK Championship
So, as we have established already, Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are both English. Joshua is from North West London, Watford specifically. Fury is from Manchester. Fury fights more like a brawler and Joshua is a bit more defensive in his approach. The two are polar opposites which makes this fight potentially just as important as the “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974 between Ali and George Forman.
There is some common ground between the two champions its seems. Neither one is inclined to do the typical boxing approach and trash talk the opponent. It could be because there is a chance that either one of them could win. It seems that Deontay Wilder’s days are numbered as a champion but he is still ranked as the number three fighter in the world. What this fight has the potential to do is place the working class North and pit it against the wealthy south. Joshua-Fury is a battle of ways of life it seems just as the Wilder-Fury fight was marketed. Both men were working class and came from hardworking families. It would appear that this fight is more of a motivational bout between two completely different individuals from the same country.
With both men being from the United Kingdom and being English it seems that there is a little more at stake than just hoisting the belt above their head at the end of the match. Anthony Joshua has been neglected in the spotlight and Fury has not fought in over a year. As a fan and advocate for both men, it’d be nice to see Joshua reclaim the throne and then start a muti-match dual with Fury over the next couple of years. On the other hand, Fury seems to have everything that he needs away from the ring at the moment. Nevertheless, it’s a battle of power and will because the winner gets the pride of his country and not just himself.
2. Rebuilding Joshua’s Career
Anthony Joshua’s career hung in the balance several years back. He was the young gun set to take boxing back to its rightful birthplace. Unfortunately , the fame and the championships cannot last forever. In 2019, Joshua was humiliated by Andy Ruiz Jr. Ruiz looked out of shape compared to the physically massive Joshua. Not to mention, Joshua had him beat in every other major category. Ruiz was set to lose the fight easily and Joshua was going to take the crown very similarly to how he did in their second bout. Joshua did everything correctly, he trained hard enough and was not lazy about it. The problem was that Joshua was not supposed to be fighting Ruiz in the first place. Ruiz was a replacement fighter who had a damn good chance but needed to be given the right opportunity.
Ruiz capitalized on Joshua’s weakens in the later rounds of the match and won by technical knockout. Joshua had lost and a Latino was crowned heavyweight champion. Joshua, embarrassed and it appeared, almost ashamed of his results stepped away from boxing into the shadows and began to work his way back into the conversation. Months later in Saudi Arabia, the two men fought in a rematch that was so one-sided that it was reminiscent of a Crystal Palace match at Liverpool. The thrashing sent Ruiz back to the depths from which he came and Joshua was once again a hero. It seems that fans still do not forget that first fight however. While this all happened, Joshua’s glory took a backseat to the Heavyweight bout between Fury and Wilder as it too was a rematch and was happening in several months time. All that can be said is that Wilder was underprepared and that Joshua should have been the one to fight Fury. Well, later this year we will see. Anthony Joshua though seems to have taken a backseat in the boxing world behind Fury’s glory. However, with recent discussions of the fight happening as a decision and date are looming any day now. The excitement cannot be contained. Across the world however, others seem less worried about it.
3. America’s Declining Interest
Of all of the countries that should feel embarrassed by their last showing at the Heavyweight stage the United States of America has appeared to show that it doesn’t care about what may be one of the biggest matches in boxing history. In the 20th century, American owned the boxing world as it had champions like Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, George Forman, Joe Frazier, Evan Holyfield and Mike Tyson to be proud of. Sadly, Deontay Wilder was the last American hope for boxing fans in the United States and with his loss it seems that America will not crown a champion for an extended period of time.
America has not been invested in a foreign world champion since Wladimir Klitschko. It seems that American boxing dominance has been replaced by its interest in other fighting arenas such as mixed martial arts where its current lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier, is more popular than some of boxing’s most famous fighters. American interests seem to have fallen in the boxing arena. An American has not won a gold medal in the sport in several years either. This fight should instill the next great American Heavyweight fighter to challenge the ways of the WBC and get something to challenge the ever-increasing European presence in boxing in the last 5-6 years.
America needs to fight its way back into the boxing arena and it seems that this will not happen until after this Heavyweight bout. Despite this, the fight that has every boxing fanatic on the edge of their seats is about to happen and I hope that fans are ready for it. The United Kingdom will finally have its “People’s Champ” of sorts as the winner will retain the crown for queen and country and the loser will live with the shame until the inevitable rematch that will occur. Its just a matter of who will actually win and the price tag that will come with it.