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Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua: Who would win?

In the summer of 2021 boxing fans got close to getting a dream match up between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. At the time Tyson Fury was coming off a spectacular knockout of Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua had regained his championship belts from Andy Ruiz and walked through Kubrat Pulev. A battle for the title of Undisputed Heavyweight Champion was about to happen… but then it got taken away. An arbitration ruled that Fury had to grant Wilder a rematch. Since then Joshua has lost twice to Oleksandr Usyk and Fury has fought lesser opposition in Derek Chisora, someone he had already defeated twice.

Nonetheless a clash between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua remains an enticing prospect, a fight that could break attendance records. Who would win?

Experience

Fury takes this one. He’s been boxing from a young age, whereas Joshua only started when he was 18. This makes Joshua’s ascent all the more remarkable given that he won Olympic Gold only 4 years after lacing up gloves. Fury had his professional debut one year after Joshua took up boxing. Experience in the sport is so important. When you’re out of breath, taking shots and can’t seem to make any headway, it’s the automatic and instinctual actions that are built up from years of practice that allow you to weather the storm. Many boxers have been built up very fast, only to disappoint when there’s been an opponent who isn’t a journeyman. In these cases, the experience hasn’t been there on how to handle things when you’re struggling.

Styles

Fury is known for his technical skill. For someone who’s so tall at 6’9″, he moves with incredible agility. Joshua, on the other hand, has been associated with knockout power but is criticized for being somewhat ‘robotic’, perhaps alluding to his relative lack of experience. Prior to his back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk, Joshua had won 22 of his 25 fights by KO/TKO. There are examples when both have exceeded expectations in relation to their boxing styles. For someone whose punching power was likened to ‘pillow fists’, Fury has that he can be a hard hitter with his knockouts of Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte. Joshua managed to get a convincing win in his rematch against Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia by winning each round on points. There was no need to go for the knockout.

Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz 2
Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz 2, “Clash On The Dunes”, 7 December 2019

Reach

Both are very tall, Fury at 6’9″ and Joshua at 6’6″, with Fury having a larger reach, 215.9cm compared to Joshua’s 208.3cm. This could be useful advantage for Fury.

Conditioning

On the surface Joshua looks like the more conditioned fighter. He’s always in shape and is known to take his training in camp very seriously. However there have been cases of Joshua gassing out mid-fight. Against Wladimir Klitschko, he expended so much energy in one round that he was rendered pretty much useless before he could get a second wind. Fury doesn’t always look like the most conditioned fighter. He’s never quite as trim as Joshua and always seems to be carrying a few extra pounds. But going against expectations, something Fury has a habit of doing, this hasn’t stopped him from going 12 rounds many times, even after receiving some heavy hits. A few years ago, Fury took a break from boxing due to mental health issues and ballooned up to around 400lbs. Many people stated that boxing is an unforgiving sport, that you can’t abuse your body like that and expect to get away with it, particularly at the highest level in the sport. But once again in proving the doubters wrong, Fury managed to lose all that weight, change up his style and become world champion.

Confidence

Fury has never been one to doubt his abilities. He has a perfect professional record, remaining undefeated in 34 bouts so far. But some people feel Fury should have a loss or two on his record. His win over John McDermott in 2009 was arguably a robbery. In 2019 Fury fought Otto Wallin in Las Vegas and suffered a cut above his right eye, requiring 47 stiches. While Fury outboxed Wallin, some believe that the fight should have been stopped and the bout awarded to Wallin. Joshua’s confidence leaves a lot of questions in the air. Following his loss to Andy Ruiz in 2019, people have criticized Joshua for being ‘gun shy’. People attribute his hesitancy to use his power and willingness to get tagged as major reasons for losing to Oleksandr Usyk. Has Joshua’s confidence tanked? One could sense a bit of relief from him when he lost to Ruiz; he no longer had the pressure to maintain his ‘O’ (undefeated record). Perhaps in Joshua’s search for a new trainer he can reignite the killer mentality he was known for in the earlier stages of his career.

Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3
Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3, “Once And For All”, 9 October 2021

Resilience

A boxer’s ‘chin’ refers to how well someone can take a punch. Joshua is sometimes accused of having a weak chin or a ‘glass chin’. Many disagree with this based on his performance against Wladimir Klitschko. During the Joshua vs Klitschko fight in 2017, Joshua was knocked down in the 6th round. In the following rounds he took considerable punishment, was able to weather the storm and stop Klitschko in the 11th round. There is no question about Fury’s resilience. He has taken the biggest punches from one of the hardest hitters in heavyweight boxing history and had still managed to keep going.

Who wants it more?

Arguably more important than tiles and money, there’ll be pride on the line. But who wants it more? Fury has retired, only to reverse his decision several months later. He says he has nothing left to prove. Joshua has talked about character as the main attribute that got him up off the canvas when Klitschko knocked him down. He could have quit. He was already an Olympic gold medallist and world champion. As Marvelous Marvin Hagler, one of the best middleweight boxers of all time, once said, “It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5am when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas.” Despite Joshua’s reference to ‘character’, he has been accused of quitting against Andy Ruiz in their first bout, something few people can imagine Tyson Fury doing. However in terms of who wants it more, perhaps Joshua does. Following his recent losses to Oleksandr Usyk, he may feel he has more to prove.

Prediction

Things change quickly in the world of boxing. But for the moment Tyson Fury looks to be the winner. Stopping Deontay Wilder twice, making Dillian Whyte look like a beginner and making easy work of Derek Chisora is impressive. But styles make fights. Anthony Joshua is coming off back-to-back losses against Oleksandr Usyk. Will he come back stronger and be more dangerous now he has something to prove?

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