In the pantheon of great fights, the general public only tend to remember the truly massive events, those that transcend the sport to capture the imagination, with everyone talking it up, from old ladies down the local tea rooms, to bus drivers and nurses.
For this to happen the stars have to align, with both ring warriors needing to mean so much more to people than being lumps of muscle with a punch like a donkey’s kick.
To go viral the fighters must be big personalities with stories to tell that can inspire people whether they are told at a pre-fight press conference, within the pages of a book, or on the big screen.
Lastly there must be animosity, respect, jealousy, and raging desire all in equal measure from each competitor.
All these aspects have come together perfectly in the case of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, two men who came from nothing to now stand on the verge of world domination.
In this article we take a look at other all-British super fights of yesteryear, to compare them with the mouth-watering super heavyweight bout that could be given the green light in 2021.
Surely it is only a matter of time before AJ and the Furious One lace them up and come to blows in a mega fight for the ages
The two battles these warriors put themselves through in 1990 and 1993 saw some of the most brutal rounds of pugilism ever seen on British shores, with the fierce aggression of both men being offset by their underrated boxing skills.
It was their first fight that was the jewel in the crown of this double act, as Eubank confounded the betting tipsters to outbox, outfox, and eventually stop his increasingly desperate rival.
The first fight no doubt took something from both men, and another hard three years in the fight game was enough to temper the pace of their second bout, which nonetheless packed-out Old Trafford, back when its capacity was 42,000.
Although the eventual pay checks and crowd size for a Fury vs. Joshua fight will no doubt eclipse what the Dark Destroyer and Simply the Best managed to drum up, it is hard to imagine that a heavyweight fight between such huge giants with well-schooled boxing brains will ever quite burst out into the full-scale war that Benn and Eubank treated the country to. In fact, most boxing punters in the know are expecting a close scrap that could go down to a nail-biting judges’ decision, which is why the preliminary odds for the potential fight are so close, with only those fans using sign-up deals from online sportsbooks finding real value in wagering on the fight.
What is certain is that Benn and Eubank will be ringside to relive the thrilling moments they shared in the ring.
Both Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have inspired men and women of all ages to use boxing as a way to get fit and to better their self-esteem
Lennox Lewis is still the gold standard in British boxing and is to this day the last true holder of the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.
This all-British slugfest, however, was the British-Canadian’s maiden world title tilt and pitted him against the country’s beloved Frank Bruno, whose beaming smile and booming chuckle captured British hearts almost at first sight.
It was perhaps the fact that Bruno was so loved and Lewis so unknown that ultimately the fight did not quite hit the heights that Joshua vs. Fury will.
That said, the fight itself was a close and entertaining affair, with Bruno getting on top early, only to have his heart broken by a round 7 revival from Lewis. The only downside was that many UK viewers were dozing off by the time the final blow landed, as the opening bell chimed at 1am in the UK, to cater for the US East Coast audience.
Everyone was a winner in the end, with Bruno finally claiming a world title at the fourth attempt and Lewis going on to cement his position as one of the greatest heavyweights ever to enter the squared circle. Lewis even got revenge for Bruno’s loss to Iron Mike Tyson, knocking the Baddest Man on the Planet out in 2002 after Tyson had twice done the same to Bruno, in 1989 and then later in 1996.
As grudge matches go few have quite lived up to the intensity and animosity of the ones displayed by Nottingham’s Carl Froch and London’s George Groves.
What really made these fights tick was the fact that Groves could so clearly get under The Cobra’s skin whenever he liked, making for some of the most entertaining pre-fight build-up TV shows and conferences boxing fans have ever seen. It will be interesting to see if Fury can instigate something similar against the media trained Joshua.
The first fight ended in bitter controversy, with referee Howard Foster perhaps a little too eager to play the role of saviour, so that Froch could keep hold of his world title.
Ultimately Froch proved himself in the rematch, almost putting Groves through the ropes with a straight right hand, but not before the cheeky Londoner had entered Wembley atop a double decker bus.
There was a nice touch in 2016 when Groves finally got his hands on a world title against Fedor Chudinov, before gratefully accepting the applause of Froch who was watching from ringside.
Another more modern affair, but no less dramatic, this fight signalled the end of one fighter’s career and allowed the other to step from his father’s shadow.
All-in-all DeGale has had a hard time of things in British grudge matches, beating Paul Smith in impressive fashion, but then going on to drop a decision to his bitterest of rivals George Groves, and then Eubank Jnr in 2019.
DeGale was clearly shot by the time Eubank got hold of him, but the Olympic gold medalist is still a nice scalp for the Brighton-based brawler to have on his resume.
It remains to be seen which fighter will be deemed over the hill when the dust settles on Joshua vs. Fury.