This is the heyday of heavyweight British boxing. In eras past, the sport’s premier division and top pay-per-view draw was dominated by American or Eastern European fighters.
All of the squared circles world heavyweight titles are now around the waist of one of two Britons: Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua. The fear among boxing fans is that they may never clash, and this golden era won’t culminate in the crowning of an undisputed champion.
Why? It’s not as though there isn’t an appetite or demand to see an all-British bout between AJ and the self-proclaimed Gypsy King. The problem is pesky politics lurking beneath the surface with different promoters and prior commitments.
Deontay Wilder has a contractual rematch with Fury to make a trilogy of fights between them for the WBC heavyweight belt. The Bronze Bomber has a remarkable draw and equally stunning loss to his Manchester rival from their two previous encounters.
Joshua, meanwhile, is finally set to defend his world titles against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev – some three years after a fight between them was initially signed. Injury to the latter scuppered the bout in 2017, but we should see AJ face off with him at last next.
Both Fury and Joshua are fancied to come through title defences so, provided those obstacles are removed from their path and the belts remain on them, the British boxing public may get the superfight that defines this era thereafter. Who can tell what other hurdles may lie between now and a prospective encounter, though?
Nor is it solely the property of boxing for there to exist a desire for fantasy fights. Spare a thought for UFC lightweight pair Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson.
Their much-anticipated clash has been postponed on five different occasions, now leaving cage fighting fans wondering whether this seemingly ill-fated bout will ever come to the octagon. They are the top UFC fighters in a lightweight division so full of talent not and unlike British boxing’s heavyweights.
The presence of other high-profile or up-and-coming MMA combatants signed to Dana White’s promotion, also doesn’t lessen the need to have this feud settled. Just as British boxing fans want Fury v Joshua, Khabib v Ferguson for the UFC lightweight title would be a huge box office draw.
There is the possibility of crowning an interim champion in the offing. Ferguson is now set to face fellow American fighter Justin Gaethje and, according to the latest MMA betting, rates a hot favourite to beat the man fourth in the UFC lightweight rankings.
It’s not about interim titles for Fury and Joshua, but a future date with destiny, all the belts, and finding out who the better man is. Their paths must cross to leave all questions about this golden generation answered, and a wealth of adoring fans on both sides satisfied.
And if we do get to see it someday? Fury is favourite with bookmakers to win the superfight and become undisputed champion. He remains unbeaten, although Joshua has since corrected the one blemish on his professional record.