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30th Mar 2023

Boxing needs Anthony Joshua more than Anthony Joshua needs boxing

Lee Costello

Anthony Joshua

Tyson Fury fans won’t want to admit it, but it’s true.

Anthony Joshua is fighting this weekend in a do or die battle against Jermaine Franklin, with some saying that his career is on the line.

With back to back losses against Oleksandr Usyk, a loss on Saturday would make it three defeats in a row for the former unified heavyweight champion.

The Ukrainian currently holds all four of his former belts, and Tyson Fury is in possession of the WBC – the one belt that Joshua has yet to obtain.

When you look at the landscape of the heavyweight division then it’s initially hard to see where Joshua fits in anymore with Usyk and Fury undoubtedly the ultimate fight for greatness.

Anthony Joshua

Never before has a champion held all of the belts in the division to become undisputed, and all arguments and debates regarding the number one status will be abolished.

However, this is boxing we’re talking about. No other sport in history is as self-destructive, suicidal and counter-productive as the pugilist profession.

Money, belts, Pay-Per-Views, TV rights, promotors, and egos have all been chucked into the blender of greed, leaving us fans with an unflavoured and unsatisfying shake that we’re forced to swallow.

Back in 2017, Joshua was without question the main man. He had just stopped Wladimir Klitschko, one of the greatest champions in history, and everything was pointing towards a unification bout with Deontay Wilder, the then WBC champion.

Anthony Joshua

Ignorance kept preventing that fight from getting over the line, but it left an opportunity for Fury to emerge from the shadows of his self-imposed exile, and launch himself back to the very top.

Three wins over Wilder, followed by victories against Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora has put the Gypsy King in prime position.

Usyk may have more belts, an Olympic gold medal, and unified the entire cruiserweight division – but the only thing in this world that talks more than Fury is money.

Regardless of pedigree, Fury is the cash cow when it comes to making the Usyk fight happen, so he should get the lion’s share of the purse.

Anthony Joshua

However, rampant rant after rant spewed from his mouth in an endless trail of video call-outs on social media, along with the most ridiculous conditions you will ever hear – and the fight is now off.

No matter what your position of Fury is, he is the sole reason that this fight has not happened, and he has now taken the sport of boxing hostage.

The Ukrainian champion will soon have to fulfil a plethora of mandatory challengers if he wants to hold onto his belts, and these will end up delaying the fight further.

It’s no secret that Usyk’s goal is unify the whole division, so he will have to fight who is put in front of him, and although a unification bout trumps a mandatory, the longer Fury takes to agree on the fight, then there will be nothing that his potential opponent can do but accept a match against the next challengers.

Anthony Joshua

So on one side the whole sport is tied up in the puppeteering hands of Fury, and the rest of it is tangled in its own politics.

That’s where Joshua comes in – if the Englishman puts on an impressive performance and destroys Franklin this Saturday, then he is straight back in the mix.

If Fury doesn’t want to risk it all against Usyk, he might be tempted by an all British showdown against Joshua in a fight that would break records in terms of gate and PPV.

The build up for this has been bubbling for years, and if it were to be announced, regardless of whether Joshua has a belt or not, it would be the biggest sporting event on offer, and suddenly boxing is in a really healthy place again.

Anthony Joshua

Even if the Londoner decided to take on Wilder, that would be a bout of seismic proportions, and one that fans cold get excited for again.

Worst case scenario is that he is highly ranked by one of the commissioning bodies and becomes a mandatory for Usyk to create a third fight.

Before anyone gets in to an argument of “why would Usyk fight him again when he’s beaten him twice?” – Fury beat Chisora twice convincingly and still gave him a third shot, and it was far less competitive.

If Joshua did lose at the weekend and called it a day then he would retire as a former unified heavy champion and multi-millionaire – hardly a bad place to be.

Boxing however, well it would take a long time to recover from the vast period of nothingness that awaits us.

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