Anthony Joshua says he wants a unification fight with Tyson Fury. Betfair's boxing writer Frankie Monkhouse explains why he believes traders have the right man picked...
"It’s generally accepted Joshua’s best chance of victory would be to knockout the WBC champ."
Closer than ever before
It's the fight all boxing fans want to see happen this year and, following a public challenge from one champion to another, it looks like we could be closer to a heavyweight unification bout than ever before.
Anthony Joshua, speaking to the press from his home during lockdown, sent out a challenge to British rival Tyson Fury. Goading the WBC champion, AJ told Fury the pair must meet if they are to finally settle the debate over who the number one fighter on the planet is.
Pulev unlikely to surrender his shot
A match-up that would surely sell-out Wembley twice over, there is a real desire from the sports loving public to see this dispute put to bed and followers will be encouraged to see both champions appear to be on the same page. How likely is it the bout hill happen in 2020?
There would be a few hurdles to overcome along the way. Firstly, Joshua is contracted to defend against Kubrat Pulev this summer, possibly at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a gala homecoming. It's fair to say that one didn't set pulses racing amongst casual followers of the noble art but those in the know understand Pulev rates as a dangerous opponent. The Bulgarian has worked hard to get himself back into contention, his record showing just one loss in a 29-bout career, the spare coming against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.
If The Cobra is to step aside and pave the way for Joshua - Fury, it's fair to assume he'd demand a decent pay-out. At 38 years old that could go towards his retirement fund but as a proud fighter he'll also be aware time is running out and this could be his last shot at the title. At present, Joshua v Pulev has been shelved due to the coronavirus emergency with no new date or venue confirmed.
Wilder could play the long game
Across at the Fury camp and it has been widely reported former world champion and bitter rival Deontay Wilder is desperate to enforce the rematch clause and push through a trilogy with The Gypsy King. Many see that as bravado, however, believing the rightful score stands at 2-0 in the Englishman's favour.
Having been battered into submission inside seven rounds earlier this year in Las Vegas, The Bronze Bomber may also accept step aside cash. In doing so he would give himself a chance to get back on track with a win against a lesser opponent in a non-title fight, ensuring he remains sharp. When Joshua v Fury is decided and we have one champion with all belts, Wilder could then move for a crack at the heavyweight ruler.
Despite the result of February's fight, Deontay believes he's better than Fury and has spoken of his confidence in beating Joshua. That means, instead of having two fights to collect all belts, he'd need just one big win to become undisputed champion. Again, that makes sense for all concerned. The only downside of that strategy, however, would be the potential AJ - Fury draw. A risk worth taking?
Bomber is bigger and hits harder
A dream fight at present, but one that could become reality with everyone pushing in the same direction. Who would win if Anthony and Tyson went toe-to-toe next time out? That's a question that splits public opinion. It's generally accepted Joshua's best chance of victory would be to knockout the WBC champ. A 6ft 6inch power puncher with a fearsome 88% KO average is certainly capable of doing just that.
It's worth remembering, however, in Fury's first fight with Wilder he was caught clean and dropped to the canvas twice but got up on both occasions and fought back. Wilder has a 93% KO average. In both contests, Fury out-boxed Deontay, a man bigger than AJ but with a similar style, looking to get off big hooks and backhand shots, happy to eat jabs in the process.
Fury favourite to silence AJ
It's little surprise - after seeing Fury dismantle Wilder and Joshua beaten up by Andy Ruiz Jr - that the public are swaying towards Tyson.
Betfair traders are too and the sportsbook has Fury as 4/9 favourite against the 13/8 of Joshua and 22/1 the draw. The fight must happen before the end of the year for bets to stand.