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JEFF POWELL: The fight of 2023 is a mouth-watering prospect but expect Tyson Fury to prevail 

Time was that the farriers, the ostlers and the wood-choppers in the employ of English gentry used to square up for bare-knuckle fights on the lawns of grand manors on Boxing Day for the delectation of their lords and ladies.

Sending an embossed invitation to Anthony Joshua to join him on the grounds of his house in Morecambe next December 26 might be the only way for Tyson Fury to lure his domestic rival into fisticuffs before the year 2023 is out.

Fury went from saying he would knock out Joshua for nothing so as to prove himself the greater British heavyweight, into such frustration at AJ’s recalcitrance that he vowed never to fight him.

Tyson Fury is set to face Oleksandr Usyk in a heavyweight unification bout next year

Tyson Fury is set to face Oleksandr Usyk in a heavyweight unification bout next year

Now – after beating up his old mate Dereck Chisora in a substitute fight – Fury has recanted, saying: ‘Yeah, OK, all right, I will smash him to smithereens for the fans but only on my terms.’

Those conditions are not so much about the money as the time, the place and the star billing. Especially the latter, since there is understood to be a clause in Joshua’s many commercial contracts that he must be the A-side in the promotion – and that is not possible while Fury has a world title and he does not.

So what could be more appropriate for a Gypsy King than stepping into the garden and calling his opponent up to scratch, the time-honoured term for the line scraped into the ground at which prize-fighters of yore used to stand toe-to-toe and slug out their differences.

Not that we’ll be holding our breath. Fury vs Joshua still threatens to be one of those biggies that never happens.

Thankfully it looks very much as if the prospective Fight Of Next Year is as good as signed, sealed and ready to be delivered. Namely, Fury the WBC title-holder and Oleksandr Usyk the wearer of the rest of the alpha-belts, for the winner to be crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis over 20 years ago. Probably in Saudi Arabia on March 4. 

Ukrainian fighter Usyk is the current occupant of the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts

Ukrainian fighter Usyk is the current occupant of the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts

Ukrainian fighter Usyk is the current occupant of the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight belts

The two stared each other down after Fury's victory against compatriot Derek Chisora

The two stared each other down after Fury's victory against compatriot Derek Chisora

The two stared each other down after Fury’s victory against compatriot Derek Chisora

There are mutterings that the IBF and the WBA, perhaps egged on by rival promoters, may try to put a horseshoe in the works by insisting Usyk defends their titles first. If they do, they will be howled out of the ring not only by the media but also the boxing fraternity and the public at large.

This hard old game needs the New Year clarity of an undisputed champion to reign over its marquee division. Urgently so, since its major event of 2022 was the huge black eye of Conor Benn’s two failed drugs tests which forced the scandalously belated abandonment of his fight for their fathers against Chris Eubank Jnr.

Fury, who sharply U-turned from what he realised was unwise retirement, is eager to keep the heavyweight flag flying. Joshua, beginning to feel he has recovered from the psychological trauma of his Usyk defeats, is promising to pitch in with a spring comeback.

There has been some sabre rattling with Deontay Wilder but Joshua’s many connections will surely prefer ‘a top 15 opponent’ to get the bandwagon rolling again, rather than the likelihood of a career-ending KO by the biggest puncher on the planet.

Fury says he is primed to go through 2023 with both fists blazing. Taking up to a fight a month after he beats Usyk.

A date and a location for the highly-anticipated fight are still to be determined by both parties

A date and a location for the highly-anticipated fight are still to be determined by both parties

A date and a location for the highly-anticipated fight are still to be determined by both parties

Contract clauses appear to rule out a Fury showdown with Anthony Joshua next year

Contract clauses appear to rule out a Fury showdown with Anthony Joshua next year

Contract clauses appear to rule out a Fury showdown with Anthony Joshua next year

More realistic are a possible rematch with Usyk – again in the Middle East, with Dubai and Qatar in contention with the Saudis – a Wembley Stadium Battle of Britain against former Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce, and a fourth instalment of what is already an epic trilogy with Wilder.

The latter is on a Muhammad Ali-esque missionary expedition to a faraway land. For that read – Covid relenting – China or that People’s Republic high-roller gambling haven of Macau.

If all that goes well, on to mandatory defences through to 2024 we go. Which could include another Wembley spectacular against the current WBA ‘regular’ champion, Daniel Dubois.

All appetising prospects. So how would it all pan out?

Giving predictions so far in advance, when so much can happen in boxing in fight week, let alone months, is a hazardous game.

But since the guv’nor down here in the basement of Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper insists on some seasonal fortune-telling, these are the first glimpses from my crystal ball:

  • Fury is just as skilled as Usyk but also too big for the Ukrainian, who he wears down and stops – twice if necessary. All hail the Gypsy King.
  • Fury outpoints Joyce in a battle.
  • Fury has to get up to beat Wilder in a thriller, yet again.
  • Fury stops Dubois, perhaps after another visit to the canvas.
  • And if Joshua does venture into The Garden – be it in Morecambe or New York – Fury knocks him out.

Denise T. Jones

Denise T. Jones is a passionate sports enthusiast with a knack for capturing the electrifying essence of the sporting world. As a dedicated sports news writer for AccessTV.co, Denise brings her unparalleled love for sports and her adept storytelling skills to deliver captivating and insightful content to readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of various sports disciplines, Denise ensures that her articles provide comprehensive coverage of the latest events, matches, and developments in the sports realm. Whether it's the thrill of the game-winning goal, the drama of a nail-biting finish, or the heartwarming stories of triumph against all odds, Denise encapsulates it all with eloquence and precision. Denise's journey in sports journalism has been marked by her unwavering commitment to accuracy, integrity, and excellence. Her ability to blend statistical analysis with compelling narratives sets her apart as a trusted voice in the industry. From the adrenaline-pumping action on the field to the strategic maneuvers off it, Denise brings every aspect of the sporting world to life through her writing. With a finger on the pulse of the sports scene, Denise T. Jones continues to inspire and inform readers with her dynamic and engaging sports coverage on AccessTV.co.

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