There’s a lot to look forward to in heavyweight boxing in 2020. With the rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder looming large on the horizon, and the rejuvenation of Anthony Joshua following his revenge over Andy Ruiz Jr, there is the prospect of some mouth-watering fights ahead for heavyweight fans.
It seems as though 2020 will be a vital year for all three major heavyweight contenders. For Fury and Wilder, one of them is sure to lose their unbeaten record in the rematch. For Joshua, his quest is to fully re-establish his credentials as the best heavyweight in the world. It’s all set to be a defining year for these three great champions, so let’s break down the main talking points ahead of the New Year.
The big rematch
All attention is being turned to the rematch between Fury and Wilder. Their first encounter was a 12-round humdinger, with a split-decision draw proving to be the controversial result. Many felt that Fury had done enough to win the fight, despite surviving a brutal blow by Wilder in the final round. A draw meant that a rematch was inevitable, and with the second fight pencilled in for February 22nd, all eyes will be on the two great fighters once more.
The latest Fury v Wilder odds place the Gypsy King as the favourite, but it’s a tough one to call. Both have enjoyed solid victories since their first battle, Fury beating Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin, and Wilder dispatching Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz. The stage is set perfectly for the two to go head-to-head once more, with Wilder’s WBC heavyweight belt on the line.
Joshua back on top
2019 has been a topsy-turvy year for Joshua. His defeat to Ruiz in June shocked the boxing world, and questions were raised as to whether he had lost his touch. There was a lot of pressure on AJ heading into the recent rematch, but he handled it superbly. Although he didn’t tear up any trees with his unanimous-decision victory, Joshua gave a strong, disciplined performance that highlighted his superiority over the Mexican-American.
It’s important for Joshua to build on that victory. There is much talk about a potential unification bout between himself and the winner of Fury v Wilder, but boxing politics could get in the way. It looks likely that Joshua will need to fight mandatory WBO challenger Oleksandr Usyk in 2020, and a bout with IBF challenger Kubrat Pulev could also be on the cards. This would make it difficult to fit in a fight against Wilder or Fury. That said, given the clout those two carry when it comes to promoting fights, it may be that all parties will favour a match-up before each fighter gets too much older.
Legacies to be made
We are at a critical juncture in the careers of all three of heavyweight boxing’s main men. Fury has said that he is approaching the end of his career, planning only a few more fights before he hangs up his gloves. If this proves to be true, then he will want to go out on a real high, and maintain his unbeaten record right to the last.
For Wilder, there is a sense that he needs to prove himself against the very best. He has demonstrated throughout his career that his punching power is unrivalled across the division, but a win against Fury in the upcoming rematch would show that he can perform on the biggest stage against the biggest opponents.
On Joshua’s part, he has the chance to put any lingering doubts behind him with a strong 2020. The mandatory challengers shouldn’t prove too much difficulty for AJ, and it will be interesting to see whether the coming year will bring Joshua and Fury or Wilder together for a unification bout. Either way, it’s set to be another thrilling year in the heavyweight division.