Britain’s two most high-profile boxers have long been locked in a public display of animosity as Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have repeatedly goaded each other over potentially the most lucrative fight of all time.
The flurry of words without exchanged contracts has been seen as frustrating or even farcical by many fans, culminating in a scrap between the pair being scheduled and then swiftly called off in 2021.
More than five years ago, Joshua made one of his first call-outs to Fury out after his epic win over Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in April 2017, while the fighter known as ‘The Gypsy King’ has dismissed the former Olympic champion as a mere bodybuilder.
Will the bout happen? What have the fighters said about it? Here’s what we know.
Will Tyson Fury fight Anthony Joshua?
As things stand, a fight between Fury and Joshua seems unlikely. Of course, it’s easy for things to change — not least when it comes to Fury’s own intentions.
As perhaps the prime target of his trademark “big dosser” insult, WBC champion Fury would sometimes have you believe that he would like little more than the chance to end what he sees as the Joshua hype train.
At other times, Fury — a man who has unconvincingly insisted he has retired for good since knocking out Dillian Whyte at Wembley in April 2022 — appears to regard Joshua variously with contempt and indifference, considering the Londoner unworthy of facing him.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has claimed that Fury turned down a bout for the undisputed title with Oleksandr Usyk before his knockout win over Whyte at Wembley Stadium in February.
Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, has hinted Fury may want to fight his man regardless of how he fares in his attempt to reclaim his titles against Usyk.
MORE: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2: Ticket prices and how to buy for huge boxing showdown in Saudi Arabia
Hearn, predictably, also regards Joshua as the biggest name in the sport, and cynics suspect Fury’s talk of retirement is part of a plan to ensure it takes an unprecedentedly vast amount of money to make him fight again.
Fury added that he would not go to watch Usyk fight Joshua “if it was in Morecambe to see two bums fight each other”.
On Instagram, Fury left no-one who has followed the saga any the wiser by claiming that he would “sign the contract today” and “that’s how the fight happens” if the adversaries met on free-to-air television in the UK.
“The fight’s got to be for free,” he trumpeted. “Free-to-air television and all tickets go for free. No money is to be made out of this British historic fight, if it happens.
🇬🇧👑 Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury casually having a chat in Marbella today… pic.twitter.com/v9BVFs2GD7
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) July 18, 2020
“There’s the terms — I’m in the driving seat, take it or leave it. The ball is in your court, guys. Either way, I don’t give a damn.”
What happened to the Fury-Joshua fight?
After years of speculation — not least when the pair were pictured meeting on holiday in Marbella in 2020 — Fury said on social media in May 2021 that he would be fighting Joshua in Saudi Arabia on August 14 that year.
The first prospective heavyweight showdown, part of a two-fight agreement reached between the two camps in March 2021, was billed as a $150m bout. However, familiar Fury foe Deontay Wilder won an arbitration hearing committing the 33-year-old Fury to a trilogy scrap, ultimately scuppering his bout with Joshua.
Fury went on to knock out Wilder in a classic and demolished Whyte. Joshua lost on points to Usyk in September 2021, ensuring more digs from Fury as a result of relinquishing his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO belts to the unbeaten Ukrainian.
MORE: Why isn’t Anthony Joshua fighting Tyson Fury? How AJ’s undisputed megafight broke down
Joshua will challenge Usyk in Jeddah on August 20, with inevitable underlying speculation that Fury will fight the winner at some point.
How much money does Fury want to face Joshua?
Fury has frequently contradicted his retirement talk by adding that he would return for a £500m payday.
“I’m telling you the truth: if you want me out of retirement, it’s gonna cost half a billion,” he told TalkSPORT.
“AJ’s bubble’s been burst, he’s been beat twice. He ain’t a virgin anymore; he’s been battered from pillar to post by a fat man on three weeks’ notice [Andy Ruiz] and by a middleweight [Usyk].
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) July 11, 2022
“Usyk hasn’t [been beaten]but that’s a middleweight coming up from cruiserweight to heavyweight – none of my interest at all.
“If it’s half a billi, then I won’t say no, will I? What you’ve gotta do is go and get half a billi, and then the Gypsy King will come out and solve all [Joshua’s] problems for him.
“Because if AJ gets beat again off Usyk, then there’s only gonna be one man to redeem this great fighting nation of the United Kingdom, and he goes by the name of Tyson Fury. I can solve all the problems, the embarrassment, all that stuff that’s gonna happen.”
What has Joshua said about fighting Fury?
Joshua has reiterated his desire to take on Fury and was scathing of his compatriot after their proposed money-maker fell through.
.@Tyson_Fury the world now sees you for the fraud you are.
You’ve let boxing down!
You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout not a fight.
Bring me any championship fighter who can handle their business correctly.
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) May 19, 2021
“The world now sees you for the fraud you are. You’ve let boxing down,” Joshua told Fury on social media.
“You lied to the fans and led them on. Used my name for clout, not a fight. Bring me any championship fighter who can handle their business correctly.”
Fury, who has since said that Joshua would not be able to beat him with a baseball bat while he was asleep, responded by offering Joshua a bare-knuckle brawl.
“If there was an arbitration going on, why announce to the world we are fighting?” Joshua thundered back, calling Fury ‘Luke’, which he claims was his chief antagonist’s original name.
“The fight was signed. Undisputed. Bare knuckle? You’re a good kid — don’t play with me, Luke. I’ll slap your bald head and you’ll do nothing! Waste man.”
Joshua’s stock will rise again should he beat Usyk at the second time of trying. That would intensify calls for Fury to face him, with promoters and fans relying on the Mancunian being sufficiently tempted by the sums on offer to make the exhaustively discussed match-up finally happen.