A year ago, Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua was the super-fight that British fans, and arguably the entire boxing world, were looking forward to.
An all-British encounter for the top four heavyweight belts was within touching distance, between two world champions with contrasting personalities who cross over to the main.
The stage was set, with finer details agreed, Saudi Arabia would fight in August 2021.
But Fury was ordered by an arbitration hearing to face Deontay Wilder in a trilogy fight. As their careers took separate paths, it looked like Fury-Joshua – or Joshua-Fury depending on your allegiance – had set sail.
Joshua has lost three of his last five fights and is without a world title, and a surprise Fury – who appeared on World Wrestling Entertainment’s scripted world last week – has repeatedly said he has retired.
But in an unexpected twist, the WBC champion Anger challenged Joshua through social networks on September 5.
On Tuesday, Joshu, according to his management company, agreed to terms to fight Fury on December 3rd.
Should it finally happen as proposed, is the meeting still a modern-day super-fight? Or has interest waned, and is there really room for bigger fights?
Is Usyk-Fury a bigger fight?
An undeniable battle to determine the best heavyweight on the planet was a big selling point for last year’s prospect meeting. There hasn’t been an undisputed heavyweight champion since the four belt era began in 2004.
Lennox Lewis was the last undisputed heavyweight champion 22 years ago.
But will even the casual sports or boxing fan be interested? Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who represents Joshua, says that the intensity of the fight will be between the two boxers, not necessarily the belts on offer.
It has been suggested that Cardiff’s Principality Stadium could host the meeting in less than three months.
Building Joshua rematch with Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk Last month in Saudi Arabia was remarkably quiet compared to the UK heavyweight championships, and there was a distinctly different atmosphere, with few fans traveling to the Middle East.
Fighting on British soil, and not in the United States or the Middle East, is huge.
Some die-hard fans, however, prefer to see Fury face WBA, IBF and WBO champion Usyk. That would be the meeting between two defeated and master pugilists with eccentric personalities.
Other unknowns would add more intrigue to that fight; Is Fury too big, and does Usyk have to prove himself as a heavyweight after only fighting three opponents in the weight class since moving up from cruiserweight?
Usyk’s remarkable journey has increased his profile over the past year as he has gone from defending his country against the Russian invasion to retaining the world titles against Joshua.
Fury-Joshua remains a huge draw both commercially and for fight fans around the world, but Fury-Usyk could captivate a global audience even more.
However, Usyk suggests he won’t be back in the ring until 2023, perhaps in the meantime Fury-Joshua makes perfect sense.
Is Joshua past his prime?
In June 2019, Joshua had his career cut short when he was beaten for the first time as a professional, as Mexico’s Andy Ruiz Jr scored a shock victory in New York.
British boxing’s golden boy, after triumphing at the London 2012 Olympics, was knocked out in the seventh round at the iconic Madison Square Garden. However, six months later he regained his joint world titles with a unanimous points win in the rematch.
After his win over Kubrat Pulev in December 2020, Joshu hinted that a fight with Fury could be in the works. The greatest in British boxing history.
But in September 2021, he lost his titles again, this time to mandatory challenger Usy in London.
Despite the one-sided nature of the fight, such is ‘AJ’s character and willingness to right the wrongs, he bounced straight back for the rematch, only to lose on points again in August.
Does Joshua’s recent record suggest that he only has a shot at punching someone with the Boxing IQ of Fury?
While Usy has no shame in losing back-to-back fights against the pound-for-pound star – and has improved greatly in the rematch – it’s been a while since fans witnessed Joshua’s explosive combinations and clinical finishing instincts.
Will the Fury fight resurrect AJ?
Having only taken up the sport at the age of 19, there have always been question marks over Joshua’s technical ability, but he has proven the doubters wrong with impressive points wins against Joseph Parker and Ruiz Jr.
Joshua has improved as a boxer and has been looking to prove that there is more to his game than a knockout punch.
It could be suggested that he is tweaking his style in hopes of one day fighting Fury. And now may be the right time to confront his rival, armed with the experience and knowledge of his failures.
Joshua’s physical condition is the subject of much debate, and so is his mindset. Former super middleweight champion Carl Froch asked if Josue has been a “broken man” since his loss to Ruiz Jr.
After defeating Usy in Jeddah, Joshua’s strange outburst in the post-fight interview also drew criticism.
His promoter pointed to the pressure the Londoner has been under and the public spotlight he has had to deal with since turning professional in 2013.
From clothing brands to energy drinks to headphones to car manufacturers, Joshua has a wide range of sponsorship commitments. Some, like Froch, believe his heart isn’t in the sport.
If that’s the case, perhaps the magnitude of Fury’s fight – which is sure to capture the imagination of the British public at the very least – could ignite a spark in Joshua.
Is now the right time for Fury?
Fury is an elite boxer. Fighters of his size, with the ability to slide around the ring, are rare. There are, however, those who believe Fury’s resume is inferior to Joshua’s.
‘The Gypsy King’ beat the odds to dethrone Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 in Dusseldorf. After a long time away from the ring, he returned to the sport and drew with Wilder before stopping the American twice.
But aside from those two big names, he has otherwise generally beaten weak opponents or fringe world title fighters such as Britain’s Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte.
Fury may feel a win over Joshua, despite his rival’s recent losses, would not only provide him with bragging rights, but also cement Lennox Lewis’ status as the best British heavyweight in history.
He may feel now is the time to cash in on a big pay day, against a weak and deflated Joshua. Commercially, Fury-Joshua is still likely to make huge numbers.
Outside the ring, Fury is formidable. His WWE appearances, duets with pop stars, reality shows, and well-documented struggles with drugs and mental health have earned him a loyal, global following.
But since beat Whyte at Wembley Stadium in AprilFury has announced his retirement, called for a trilogy fight against Chisora, traveled to Iceland to face strongman Thor Bjornsson, proposed he and Joshua fight on free-to-air TV and demanded £500m for his next fight.
While much of what he says is tongue-in-cheek, the inconsistencies and lack of clarity about his next move have frustrated some boxing fans.
Some are not sure if the Joshua-Fury fight will happen this year. If it really happens, it will be great to see how much it catches the world’s attention.