4 Reasons Why Tyson Fury Is the Favorite vs. Anthony Joshua

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2021

4 Reasons Why Tyson Fury Is the Favorite vs. Anthony Joshua

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    OK, it's not quite Ali-Frazier.

    Nevertheless, just a week after the boxing world celebrated the 50th anniversary of that heavyweight classic, the big-boy division appears poised to deliver a modern match that'll unify its perpetually loose ends.

    Longtime British rivals Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, who combine to hold all the sport's most relevant championship belts, have "put pen to paper" on a fight for which the date and site will be confirmed within the next few weeks, promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports.

    The fighters were born 14 months apart, reside about 200 miles from one another in England and have spent intermittent time as champions throughout the last six years.

    Fury, now 32, initially earned the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles with a defeat of Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 but surrendered them during a 31-month hiatus in which he had issues with depression and substance abuse. He returned in 2018 and fought WBC champ Deontay Wilder to a 12-round draw that December, then stopped Wilder in seven rounds to capture the green belt in February 2020.

    Meanwhile, Joshua, 31, won the IBF title in Fury's absence in 2016, added the IBO and WBA belts with his own win over Klitschko in 2017 and wrested the WBO crown from Joseph Parker in 2018. He successfully defended the straps once before losing the entire collection to Andy Ruiz, who shocked him with a seventh-round TKO in Joshua's U.S. debut in June 2019.

    Joshua won a wide decision and regained his titles in a rematch six months later and most recently fought in December, when he stopped challenger Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds at the Wembley Arena in London.

    "I'm ready," Joshua said. "I'm really looking forward to competition. All I want to do is fight, fight, fight."

    Multiple outlets have installed Fury as an early betting favorite, and the B/R combat sports team put together a brief list of reasons why the unbeaten WBC claimant warrants that status as preparation begins.

    Take a look at what we came up with and drop a counter shot or two of your own in the comments.

Reason 1: Tyson Fury Is the Bigger Man

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Size doesn't always matter, but it's not a bad thing to have in a fight.

    So while Joshua is built like an Adonis and stands an imposing 6'6", he'll be looking up three inches to meet the gaze of Fury, who's a gargantuan 6'9" and checks in as the second-tallest heavyweight title claimant in history—trailing only Russian behemoth Nikolai Valuev, a two-time WBA champ who was 7'0".

    But Valuev was a mere 300-pound sideshow compared to Fury, who's impossibly agile on his feet and fluid with his hands while carrying upwards of 270 pounds. He was a career-high 276 while stopping punching bag Sefer Seferi in his 2018 comeback fight, then tipped in at 273 for the rematch rout of Wilder in 2020.

    He dropped the previously unbeaten champion, a giant in his own right at 6'7", in Rounds 3 and 5 before Wilder's corner humanely surrendered him in the seventh.

    Meanwhile, Joshua struggled mightily before ultimately vanquishing a 6'6" Klitschko in their epic 11-round battle in 2017, and that was 17 months after Fury had outpointed the Ukrainian by 8-4 and 9-3 margins across the board to make his initial championship claim.

    Here's looking (up) at you, kid.

Reason 2: Tyson Fury Has Beaten Better Foes

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    PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP via Getty Images

    We're not claiming everyone Fury has fought is an elite-level talent.

    Indeed, for every time he's put his record on the line in a championship fight, his resume is littered elsewhere with the dubious likes of Seferi, Joey Abell and Vinny Maddalone.

    And if you're counting title defenses, Joshua has got him beat by a wide margin.

    So wide, in fact, that the Joshua fight itself will be Fury's first try at defending a championship.

    But where AJ has quantity, the Gypsy King has quality.

    His top-line defeats of long-reigning Klitschko and an unbeaten Wilder trump anything Joshua has managed in two reigns, which peak with Parker and Alexander Povetkin, include an older Klitschko coming off a 17-month absence and feature similar flotsam by names of Charles Martin, Eric Molina and Dominic Breazeale.

    Win this one, and the perception changes.

    But until then, it's certified Angus over ground chuck.

Reason 3: Tyson Fury Is More Resilient

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    Erick W. Rasco /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

    Compare your mental images of the two men's careers.

    If you're practicing nonpartisanship, there's a good chance the most prominent takeaway from Fury is him somehow rising from a 12th-round knockdown against Wilder—long included among the division's most murderous punchers—and finishing out a draw that more than a few people thought he won.

    Jump over to Joshua, meanwhile, and it'd be no surprise if a go-to image is him being dumped four times by a flabby Ruiz on the way to one of recent history's most shocking upsets.

    One guy takes the best shot of a champion who'd stopped every fighter he'd ever faced.

    The other is beaten across the ring by a guy some would easily mistake for a civilian.

    Full disclosure: Joshua did return six months later to beat the man who'd beaten him.

    And yes, Fury was also knocked to the floor by the comparatively tiny likes of Steve Cunningham, whom he outweighed by 44 pounds; and the typically light-hitting Neven Pajkic, who'd stopped only five of the 16 fighters he'd beaten prior to facing Fury in 2011.

    But he's always gotten up. And other than the avenged draw with Wilder, he's always won.

    Joshua, for all the accolades earned before and After Ruiz, can't make the same claim.

Reason 4: Tyson Fury Has Intangibles

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    It's the most nebulous box on the prediction checklist.

    Where conclusive arguments can be made one way or the other on boxing ability, punching power, chin and conditioning, there's always a category for the few extra elements that can determine a winner.

    When it comes to those things, Fury seems the real deal.

    He's one of those guys who just seems comfortable in the game.

    He lights up press conference microphones. He gets into his opponents' heads with sometimes eloquent, sometimes incoherent trash talk. He thumbs his nose at crowds eager to see him rendered unconscious. He comes to the ring appearing as relaxed as a guy heading to a spa day.

    And then he serenades the crowd as press row waits anxiously for deadline quotes.

    Make no mistake, Joshua is a superstar, a powerful marketing product and a darn good fighter.

    He didn't get an Olympic medal and embark on two professional world title reigns by mistake.

    But he's never been the villain. He's never been the underdog. He's never deviated from script. And he's never experienced a fight of the magnitude of the ones Fury has already won.

    For that reason, and until proven otherwise, this is Fury's world and we're all just living in it.