Tyson Fury kicked off the new year by entertaining an old rivalry.
All eyes remain on any progress being made towards putting together what will easily serve as the biggest heavyweight fight in British boxing history. It remains to be seen how soon a deal can be reached for Fury and longtime divisional rival Anthony Joshua to collide for all of the relevant heavyweight hardware, with Fury more concerned about the fight crossing that line than what Joshua will do once they’re finally in the ring.
“I don’t think he’s as good as people crack him up to be, or he doesn’t believe he is, in his own self,” Fury insisted in a recent interview with Fox Miami. “He’s got a confidence issue. He’s coming off two shaky performances. Boxing is all about who is in form and who isn’t. On his last two fights he’s not in form, on mine I am.
“Momentum is with me and I just believe I take him out early, very early. Maybe even one round, two rounds.”
Manchester’s Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) made similar claims and predictions ahead of his rematch with Deontay Wilder, which took place last February at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight didn’t end quite that early, though Fury had his way with the then-unbeaten titlist en route to a 7th round stoppage to reestablish heavyweight championship lineage with the win.
A third fight between the two has remained on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and no longer on the table as far as Fury is concerned. His focus has shifted towards an all-British superfight.
Watford’s Joshua (24-1, 22KOs) has since offered his thoughts such a fight shortly after dismantling mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev inside of nine rounds to defend his slew of heavyweight titles last December at SSE Arena, Wembley. Vows of what he would do in present day stemmed from an old quote from Fury praising Joshua after a sparring session between the two back in 2010, when Fury was early into his pro career and Joshua was still an amateur.
“I was hungry then and I’m even hungrier now,” the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and reigning unified heavyweight titlist told reporters in late December prior to the holiday season. “There was a Rolex [watch at stake] but now there is an even bigger pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. I want to take his head off his shoulders when that fight happens. I’m sure that I’ll win.”
Joshua’s knockout win over Pulev was his first since stopping Alexander Povetkin inside of seven rounds in Sept. 2018. In that time has since come his first career defeat—a 7th round stoppage to Andy Ruiz in June 2019, ending his first title reign in the process—followed by a 12-round decision win over Ruiz in their Dec. 2019 rematch before his aforementioned destruction of Pulev last month.
None of the above has registered as particularly impressive to his unbeaten countryman.
“It's a nice quote. It doesn't mean anything,” insists Fury. “It's sticks and stones. People say a lot of stuff and they don't back it up, so we'll see. I've never seen him take anybody's head off anybody's shoulders in all of his 22 fights. Probably a lie. Another lie.”
With any luck, the two will have a chance to prove whose humble brag comes to fruition when they meet—potentially as early as this May or June, though several matters remain unresolved in order to get there.
That part of the equation remains of far greater interest to Fury.
“This fight has been brewing for a long time. They have been avoiding me for a long time and now it’s finally got to happen,” insists Fury. “They either run away from the fight and announce it publicly, or [they] take the fight.
“Either way it’s a lose-lose situation for him.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox