The long-awaited all-English heavyweight clash we’ve all been craving, between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, appears to be on the horizon. Ex-cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson sits down to talk about how the timing works for both men.
The two fighters need this bout at crossroad moments in their careers, with different goals to achieve; one is determined to prove to everyone that he is one of the greatest to do it, while the other wants to prove to himself that he can still mix it with the division’s elite. Having fought 59 times, and gone through endless amounts of negotiations, Johnny Nelson knows the process of getting such a mammoth fight arranged, but does he think it will happen?
“My gut feeling is that I’ve got to go with it and say yeah it will happen. If there was ever a chance for it to happen and all the stars were aligned with everything in place it’s now… Finally, we’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth, in the form of both fighters. If it doesn’t happen then whoever it is loses face.”
“If it gets cancelled, if Anthony Joshua decides to add something in and say ‘I want rose petals on the floor of my dressing room’ and the public are saying AJ is ducking Fury, he’s got nobody to hide behind, nobody to blame and vice versa.”
After his most recent loss to Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua didn’t seem to have many options. His current form of three losses in his last five fights left many wondering whether he would continue to box or give up on the sport. The outburst that followed the fight led people to believe that he was done dealing with the pressure and expectation that comes with his career.
“I think Anthony Joshua believed he was the best in the world and so therefore it’s a hard thing to adjust to when all of a sudden you’re not the best in the world. All of a sudden you’re like everyone else.”
“I think from there it would’ve been hard for him to get his head round it and say yeah I’ll continue to box, I’ll just be like Dereck Chisora or Dillian Whyte and be on the periphery seeing what I can get.”
“Anthony Joshua has lost his last two fights, and we saw how emotional and how twisted his brain was over it. That means his head’s not screwed on right or in the right place, so this might be ego talking now saying let’s do it”.
Is it the right time for Joshua to be taking this fight with the way he carried himself and struggled after the last one?
“If I was in AJ’s team and my opinion counted, it wouldn’t be a great idea to take this fight.”
“This could be ego talking instead of common sense. He needs that confidence building up again, that self belief built up, he needs to seriously believe he can go in and beat Tyson Fury.”
His opponent, and perhaps his only motivation to continue, Tyson Fury, is at the other end of the spectrum. The lineal heavyweight champion of the world is at the pinnacle of the division and recently retired himself. However, he is returning to the ring to solidify his status as the best there is, and Johnny Nelson thinks it is the best time to face his fellow Briton.
“Genius. Genius! If there’s ever a time to get anybody it’s right now, there’s a wounded animal there.”
“Tyson Fury is thinking I’d better get him before he disappears or this question is never being answered. He’s never been weaker, he’s never been more vulnerable. If I’m going to get him it needs to be right now. I think it’s a genius move by Tyson Fury.”
The fight will be a blockbuster, anything could happen at the Principality Stadium where it is rumoured to be taking place. It is clear who the favourite is when listening to punters and pundits talk about the potential clash, but Joshua has beaten some very credible opponents during his rise to the top, with the TKO win over Wladimir Klitschko still holding some weight when talking about his career path. Whilst a unanimous decision victory over Joseph Parker, who is a top fighter, showed that he can take a fight the distance and come out on top. So how does Nelson see this one going?
“This form of Anthony Joshua, I would actually give a better chance of beating Tyson Fury than the other forms of Anthony Joshua. But you have to look at Tyson Fury and think, this guy is unbeaten, he’s the favourite regardless. He’s the best heavyweight in the world and you have to prove otherwise.”
“This might be more personal than professional for Anthony Joshua, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last we see of him, as this [Fury] is the only guy who can motivate him.”