Tyson Fury’s decision to partake in a voluntary defence of his WBC heavyweight title against Derek Chisora at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this Saturday has drawn its share of criticism.
Fury has fought Chisora twice before, winning both times. When they met in a November 2014 rematch, Chisora was withdrawn by his corner at the end of the 10th having not won a round.
Both have gone on to career-best nights since then and 50,000 tickets swiftly being sold for the Fury vs. Chisora 3 showed there was plenty of appetite to go alongside the apathy.
Another reason for the outcry was the fact that Chisora stepped in after all parties were once again unable to get a showdown between Fury and former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua over the line.
This is the story of how the biggest fight in British boxing history has persistently failed to materialise.
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Why didn’t Tyson Fury fight Anthony Joshua after he beat Wladimir Klitschko?
When Fury scored a huge upset win with a masterclass performance against long-reigning champion Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf in 2015, the prospect of a meeting with Joshua was already bubbling under nicely.
The following month, Joshua claimed the best win of his 15-fight career with a seventh-round knockout of Dillian Whyte in a barnburner at O2 Arena – a contest that both enhanced the reputations and highlighted the vulnerabilities of Britain’s two best heavyweight prospects.
Joshua’s graduation from prospect to champion was swift when, just four months later, he stopped the overmatched Charles Martin in two rounds to lift the IBF title.
That was one of the belts Fury took from Klitschko but the IBF stripped him for agreeing to a rematch with the Ukrainian great as opposed to facing their mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov, who suffered a knee injury in their January 2016 fight – heralding a TKO win for Martin and one of the shortest and most forgettable reigns in heavyweight history.
Joshua began to build something far more substantial, unifying by winning the WBA title against Klitschko and the WBO by out-pointing Parker.
Those belts were available because Fury sunk into a battle with drink, drugs and depression that saw him balloon in weight and spend more than two-and-a-half years out of the ring.
After his up-and-down classic with Klitschko, a delirious and possibly-concussed Joshua called out Fury in the immediate aftermath. But at that point, in April 2017, the main focus was WBC champion and knockout specialist Deontay Wilder.
Why did Deontay Wilder fight Tyson Fury instead of Anthony Joshua?
Negotiations for a Joshua vs. Wilder fight became increasingly fractious, with claim, counter-claim and promotional self-interest on both sides meaning a deal remained elusive.
Instead, Wilder agreed to face Fury in December 2018 after the former champion had a couple of low-key tune-up bouts against Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta. Joshua felt he saw through the Bronze Bomber’s play.
“I know the strategy is for him to fight Fury after a three-year layoff,” he told Sky News. “He’s got a good chance of beating him. It will boost his profile so when he comes back to the negotiating table he will have a better leg to stand on.”
It was a plan that backfired, both for Wilder immediately and Joshua in the longer term.
Fury outboxed Wilder for the majority of their initial bout, but two knockdowns – the latter leading to the Gypsy King’s remarkable 12th round “resurrection” – saw the champion salvage a draw on the cards. Scores remained to be settled, the public were enraptured and Fury and Wilder were locked in one another’s orbit.
By the time they met for a second time in February 2020, with Fury battering Wilder to the first loss of his career in seven rounds, Joshua had suffered a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz on his US debut and avenged that setback in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2019.
A few weeks after a packed MGM Grand in Las Vegas enjoyed Fury’s bravura display, the world changed. The coronavirus pandemic made blockbuster heavyweight showdowns with massive crowds a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.
Did Tyson Fury agree to fight Anthony Joshua?
At the end of 2020, Joshua fulfilled his IBF mandatory with an authoritative win over Kubrat Pulev before a limited crowd at Wembley Arena. That cleared the way for a Fury vs. Joshua showdown and the boxers’ camps agreed to a two-fight deal in March 2021, with the first of those pencilled in for August.
That remains as close as they have come to sharing a ring competitively because Wilder had an ace up his sleeve. In a May 2021 arbitration hearing, it was ruled Wilder was contractually entitled to a third fight with Fury.
MORE: How Tyson Fury overcame drugs and mental health torment to rule the heavyweight world
At the time, this pleased next to nobody outside of Wilder’s immediate circle. Fury was seen to have conclusively settled the argument in their second fight, branding his foe a “joke” for purportedly demanding $20 million to step aside and allow the Joshua fight.
Joshua turned his anger in Fury’s direction: “The world now sees you for the fraud you are. You’ve let boxing down!” he tweeted.
“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.”
After the final instalment of the Fury vs. Wilder trilogy, 11 brutal rounds where both men hit the canvas and the Briton emerged victorious, no one looked like a fraud and no one felt let down. Out of complete shambles came a heavyweight contest for the ages.
They boxed two weeks after Joshua had the misfortune of running into a championship fighter who could handle his business very correctly indeed.
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk mesmerised and outworked an unusually-timid Joshua to take his three belts at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Joshua displayed improvements in the rematch 12 months later but found himself deservedly on the wrong end of the scorecards once more. A Fury fight felt further away then ever.
Then things got very interesting. Or profoundly irritating, depending on your tastes.
How much money does Tyson Fury want to face Anthony Joshua?
Less than two months after apparently riding off into the sunset in his Wembley afterglow, Fury named his price as far as Joshua and Usyk were concerned.
“I’d probably want half a [billion] to come out of retirement,” Fury told talkSPORT. “I’m telling you the truth, if you want me out of retirement, it’s gonna cost half a billi.
“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 [Ruiz] and by a middleweight [Usyk]. 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.”
— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) June 29, 2022
Those were the thoughts of Tyson Fury the proud English businessman, but everyman Tyson Fury, friend of the downtrodden had a different take not long afterwards.
“It’s all about money, Mr Businessman [Joshua] – he’s not a fighting man,” Fury said during a speaking tour, where VIP packages for the Manchester leg were priced between £110.95 and £318.45.
“I swear to God I hope he wins the fight against Usyk so that I can come out of retirement and fight him for free.
“However, the terms are this – I want it at Wembley Stadium, I want it free to enter and I want it on free-to-air in television in this country. I’ll fight him in England, not abroad in a foreign country for more money, here for free for the people.”
Of course, Usyk did beat Joshua again and the Ukranian’s desire to rest and recuperate from injuries and general wear and tear served to put Fury’s sense of patriotic duty on hold. As for his the purse he will receive against Chisora this weekend, it’s a long way short of £500 million. The masses will not be let in for free but can watch along if they stump up £26.95 to watch on BT Sport – the highest PPV boxing price in UK history.
In the journey from there – AJ’s misery in Saudi Arabia – to here, we seemed to get closer than ever before to Fury vs. Joshua.
The champion’s preference for conducting negotiations on a whim via his social media channels eventually proved a hindrance, but it also got things moving at a pace.
Fury offered Joshua a shot before the end of 2022. Cynics could claim he was simply shouting his beaten rival’s name to pile on a little more misery. However, Joshua accepted the challenge and instructed his team to get to work.
Representatives from both sides agreed a date of December 3 and the rough outline of a 60/40 financial split in Fury’s favour. Each man being contracted to rival television broadcasters was a remaining hurdle to be negotiated.
As those talks went on behind the scenes, Fury set public deadlines for Joshua to return a signed contract. Those were missed and eventually things petered out.
Chisora, who is represented by the same promoters and management company as Joshua, then signed to fight Fury on the same date a few weeks later, unencumbered by deadlines.
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Fury told anyone who would listen that Joshua had missed his chance, but the Londoner remains convinced they will get it on one day.
“All that other stuff, back and forth on social media, it’s quite time consuming. There’s a good and a bad on social media, like anything, so it’s not annoying but you’ve got to play the game as well,” he told DAZN when discussing Fury’s particular approach to negotiations.
“My dance partner [Fury], the last geezer I was supposed to fight, he’s a good dance partner. He handles social media side of things. I think we’d do good business behind the scenes. It will happen.”
The fact it was supposed to happen this weekend means that one of the main feelings surrounding Fury vs. Chisora III, irrespective of the considerable merits of each fighter, will be frustration with boxing and it’s ever interminable politics.