Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua is the only fight the people want to see
While although Boxing has been in a state of flux over the past nine months, a sense of normality is starting to return, and with Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev facing off this weekend, the heavyweight title scene is starting to become a lot clearer.
As far as fans are concerned, Pulev is nothing more than a hurdle that has needs to be overcome this weekend for the potential mega-money “Fight of the Decade” to take place between Brits, Fury and Joshua.
Of course, AJ cannot take his eyes off his upcoming opponent, and he won't after the lessons learned in his loss to unheralded Andy Ruiz Jr last June, when the Watford born fighter lost his perfect professional record and air of invincibility.
Not only that, but he also lost all four of his heavyweight belts and after suffering a shock, unexpected embarrassing defeat in his American debut in Madison Square Garden. He then had to reset, return to the drawing board, alter his physique and frame to add speed and technique to his game to make sure the outcome was different in the rematch six-months later.
An outcome that certainly was, as the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist kept an unfit, undisciplined Ruiz Jr at arm’s length for the duration of the 12-round fight, and although it was far from pretty or exciting, it was a far more cerebral showing than their first meeting.
A performance that meant Joshua and his litany of belts were reunited and, 52 weeks later than his success in Saudi Arabia, the 31-year-old will finally return to the ring to face Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev, three years later than first planned - they were meant to fight in 2017 after AJ's finest win at Wembley Stadium. Instead, he was presented with stand-in challenger Carlos Takam, which resulted in a laboured, bloody victory in round 10 after swift intervention from referee Phil Edwards.
This was a fight that was then scheduled again for June of this year, after Pulev became the IBF #1, with Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium playing host. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, an alternative date and venue was subsequently required.
A delay of six months and also a change to the SSE Arena will mean the fight takes on a slightly different complexion and for the limited attendance of a a thousand fight fans that will be afforded the opportunity to watch the fight in person, their ticket will be more like a lottery win rather than the ability to enter.
While it comes to winning, it is very difficult to look past the current holder of the WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF belts and the sportsbook bookmaker [Full review] has lines ready for the unification world heavyweight title, lines that have Joshua as the overriding favourite.
Should the formbook be followed at the weekend, then the focus moves onto all things Tyson Fury and the fight that the global boxing community has been continually clamouring for, as although both fighters are British, the scale of interest is now far greater than just at home.
Because this is not just about who is the best boxer in Britain, it is who is the best heavyweight in the world and by facing off, all the gold will be on the line, with a undisputed king finally being named once for all.
If there is one criticism about the sweet science, it is the alphabet soup that comes with the champions at each weight class and the argument of which champion at a certain weight is truly the best.
However, if Joshua overcomes Pulev and Fury gets a tune up fight out of the way, then the path to become undisputed once and for all, finally opens up and after the year that everyone has had, it really gives everyone something to look forward to.
There is one slight curve ball that could be thrown and that is the question regarding Deontay Wilder and the trilogy with Tyson Fury that he is looking to complete. Although with flight restrictions currently in place, this is a difficult one to answer.
The simple issue here, is how to get both fighters on the same patch of safe ground and as things stand, this is not a conundrum that can be solved anytime soon. Then again, there is an answer that is a lot more apparent when it comes to the ‘Bronze Bomber’
That being, the humbling that he was served by Fury when they last met and after such a meek showing, any chance of a third and final meeting looks like it may need to be parked until at least the Manchester based fighter has dealt with his domestic rival.
So although Fury fans will not be cheering on Joshua, they will at least hope he wins to set up the clash we are all patiently waiting for and if Saturday’s fight goes to plan, then the heavyweight planning can really begin in 2021.