LONDON • Ever since Tyson Fury stopped Deontay Wilder in February to win the World Boxing Council belt, the fans have been demanding it.
The stage is now set for the biggest heavyweight fight between Fury and Anthony Joshua since Mike Tyson v Lennox Lewis in 2002 after Joshua knocked out Kubrat Pulev in the ninth round at Wembley on Saturday.
In front of 1,000 fans, including retired great Floyd Mayweather, with attendance limited due to Covid-19 restrictions, the World Boxing Association, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organisation champion retained his titles as his Bulgarian opponent was swatted aside.
Afterwards, the 31-year-old Joshua declared his intention to unify all four world heavyweight boxing titles in an all-British clash.
Not since Lewis in 2002 has there been a unified heavyweight champion, but the highly-anticipated bout could happen next year with negotiations under way.
Asked about the possibility of the mega fight, Joshua said to a chorus of cheers: “I’m up for anything. Who wants to see Anthony Joshua box Tyson Fury in 2021?
“I started this game in 2013 and I’ve been chasing the belts ever since. Whoever has got the belt, I would love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, then let it be Tyson Fury.”
Pulev had previously lost just once in 29 fights to former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, but was outclassed by Joshua, who could have had victory wrapped up within three rounds.
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist, whose technical knockout defeat by American Andy Ruiz Jr last year remains his only blemish after 25 fights, put him on the canvas in the third round.
While Joshua eased up on the pressure, three uppercuts in quick succession in the ninth finished the job, laying the groundwork for the biggest British boxing fight since the “Battle of Britain” between Lewis and Frank Bruno in 1993.
An agreement in principle for Joshua and Fury to finally go head-to-head has been in place since earlier this year and Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, confirmed both sides will start talking.
Whoever has got the belt, I would love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, then let it be Tyson Fury.
“Starting from tomorrow, we make the Tyson Fury fight straight away. It’s the only fight to be made in boxing. It is the biggest fight in British boxing history,” he said.
“I know he (Joshua) wants it. He is the best heavyweight in the world, I promise you. He’ll break him down, he’ll knock him out.”
Tyson’s promoter, Top Rank supremo Bob Arum was in agreement, tweeting: “It looks like the stage is set for the biggest heavyweight championship fight since Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier in 1971, when Tyson Fury meets Anthony Joshua for the undisputed crown.”
While Wilder is said to have a rematch clause for a trilogy of fights, Fury, 32, only has eyes for Joshua.
“I want the fight, I want the fight next,” he said on social media. “I’ll knock him out inside three rounds. It’s a matter of time. I’ll spank you like I did Bronze Bomber, two, three rounds.”