In a week when both Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua announce enormous fights, where exactly does the heavyweight division sit?
It’s a cheeky crossover fight! While these contests between boxers and MMA fighters are a lot more common than they used to be 10 years ago, none of them truly moved the needle like Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and his fight with Conor McGregor. While it’ll be a tall ask for Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou to eclipse the excitement and box office performance, they do at least stand a chance. Such as the star power of both combatants. The two are set to fight in a standard rules boxing fight, in Saudi Arabia.
Tyson Fury will be the odds-on favorite. After all, the boxing ring is his domain. Fury hasn’t just won all his fights recently, he’s stopped them. Dereck Chisora, Dillian Whyte, and Deontay Wilder were all sent packing as the man from Manchester extended his unbeaten career to 33 pro wins.
Ngannou shouldn’t be discredited as a striker, after all, he has won five out of his last six MMA matches via punches either KO or TKO. However, stepping into the ring with the WBC Heavyweight Champion is a tall ask for your pro boxing debut.
It’s a VERY marketable fight. It will bring eyeballs from the wider combat sports fan and make boxing as a whole very relevant. This is despite the match having zero standing in the rankings and Fury’s championship won’t hang in the balance. Even if Ngannou stops him, the two men will swap only handshakes at the end of the match. Oh and of course, large sums of cash.
The best of the British, right? Well, sort of. When the original fight between these two took place in 2015 when both boxers were on the up as they fought for regional titles and even the vacant British heavyweight championship. Fast-forward to 2023 and the difference is night and day. Both careers have taken a nosedive and the loser of the bout could be sent back to the doldrums of bingo halls, having to fight at a lower ebb.
Anthony Joshua might be saved from a remarkably big drop due to his prior achievements, having defeated Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker, and Alexander Povetkin. Even with his losses to Andy Ruiz Jr. and consecutive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, he’s still one of the UK’s favorite and most marketable fighters.
There does seem to be a little blasé attitude from the Joshua camp, in that there was supposed to be a fight with Deontay Wilder in December 2023. While having a tune-up fight is recommended, picking Whyte seems like an unnecessary risk. After all, Whyte has a lot more to lose. The promoters from Saudi Arabia have even said that if AJ loses that he might forfeit his right to the fight or at least take a significant pay cut.
Whyte doesn’t enjoy anywhere near the fanfare that AJ does. A loss for him puts him on the free-to-air boxing cards held in someone’s backyard in Lithuania. He’s fighting for his reputation and career here in London.
The winner of the bout should bounce back to the apex of the division and get the chance to fight against the champions. Whether or not Tyson Fury entertains a battle of Britain with Joshua is another story and he may have doubts over fighting Whyte again. Usyk will need someone to fight too but does anyone want to see AJ fight him for a third time?
Undoubtedly both fights will serve as exciting cards for boxing fans. Fury’s fight might be more of an exhibition but with the right undercard, could still be a very important night for the global boxing landscape. Comparatively, Joshua and Whyte’s fighting will have a bigger direct impact on the heavyweight division and most certainly appease the boxing purists.