There are two big fights that heavyweight boxing fans would love to see in 2024: Tyson Fury, as the undisputed champion, finally locking horns with Anthony Joshua or accepting a rematch with Francis Ngannou.
There’s plenty of mileage before either of those dream scraps can happen, with Fury himself having to overcome Oleksandr Usyk in February – and a likely rematch in the summer, while Joshua and Ngannou lock horns in what will become an eliminator-style clash in March.
Eddie Hearn believes that his client, AJ, will overcome the powerhouse from Cameroon – potentially setting up that long-awaited bout with Fury.
The bookmakers are on the side of the Gypsy King – just – ahead of his undisputed entanglement with the Ukrainian. Those plotting a Fury vs Usyk bet can currently get a price of 8/11 on the Brit dethroning his opponent, with Usyk a dangerous 11/10 underdog.
Whoever wins, the latest boxing odds suggest that the champion will have to navigate deep water – either Fury or Usyk to win on points are the most likely outcomes, as per the bookies’ prices.
After such a titanic battle, if the bout goes as expected, both Fury and Usyk will deserve a holiday as they look ahead to the rest of 2024. A rematch clause in their contract means that they will likely meet again in the summer – hopefully, this time on English soil, so that actual boxing fans can attend in person, rather than forcing them into an expensive trip to Saudi Arabia.
The chins of both Joshua and Ngannou are likely to be severely tested when the two power punchers meet on March 8, so they too may take some time off before engineering their return to the ring.
Hearn’s hubris does not exactly chime with the more circumspect view of Joshua. He has described Ngannou as ‘chaos’ for the heavyweight division, admitting he was impressed by what he saw from the man known in his UFC days as ‘Predator’. The former MMA star pushed Fury all the way in their Riyadh rumble, losing out only on a controversial split decision.
Ngannou, for his part, was in a mischievous mood when he came face-to-face with Joshua at their pre-fight press conference. “I heard he doesn’t have a chin,” he commented, questioning AJ’s punch resistance.
The scene is set rather nicely then for the rest of 2024 as far as the heavyweight division is concerned – although most will be hoping that Usyk doesn’t poop the party by beating Fury on February 17.