Anthony Joshua Opens As Betting Underdog To Tyson Fury With Mega-Bout Likely A Year Away

Written By Dave Bontempo on June 11, 2020
Anthony Joshua Tyson Fury Odds

The sizzle on that Anthony Joshua – Tyson Fury steak may crackle for a least a year.

That’s how long bettors have to anticipate the two-fight heavyweight championship package the fighters verbally confirmed Wednesday for a summer 2021 launch.

Fury is favored -186 at BetMGM, with Joshua currently sitting at +137.

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook did not post odds in the first 24 hours after the news broke.

Regardless of where numbers are posted, they are interesting odds with Joshua the underdog despite holding the WBA, IBF and WBO belts. Fury has the WBC version.

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Monster money ahead for both fighters

Frank Warren, Fury’s co-promoter, says Fury and Joshua could each earn $60-70 million for the first fight and perhaps double for a second. Promotional largesse perhaps, but big purses in any case.

Featuring two heavyweight champions from England, Joshua-Fury would be the biggest boxing event in British history. Warren said it would rival England winning the 1966 World Cup.

The British euphoria did not immediately reach American sportsbooks.

The books consider the fighters to have unfinished business – even un-started business – to factor in.

Don’t forget about Fury – Deontay Wilder

DraftKings still has the fight that finalizes Fury-Joshua, the third matchup between Fury and Deontay Wilder, as unconfirmed.

Because it is.

That fight can’t even happen until at least November because of Covid-19 restrictions hampering the sport.

When it does, Fury is -350 at FanDuel and -420 at DraftKings against Wilder.

Joshua also has to face his mandatory challenger, Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev, when the sport fully resumes. FanDuel has Joshua at -1100 and Pulev at +590 for that fight, whenever it occurs.

Because of those lopsided odds, there is an eerie resignation in boxing that the pre-existing obligations for Fury and Joshua won’t spoil the party.

Fury controlled the first two fights against Wilder. The first ended in a draw because he was dropped twice in the late rounds of their exhilarating 2018 encounter. Earlier this year, Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh round. It was a definitive performance.

It’s interesting to see Wilder considered an after-thought in this process. He’s 42-1 with 41 knockouts and held his WBC heavyweight title for five years. But he safely avoided other champions, racked up victories over second-tier fighters and stretched his tenure to 10 defenses.

Fury is favored over Joshua because of the Andy Ruiz element. The unheralded Ruiz, a 42-1 underdog at most books, shocked Joshua with a seventh-round knockout victory last June in New York. Joshua did reclaim the titles via decision in a December rematch, but the odds reflect Fury’s power being more prominent than Ruiz’.

The waiting game

What will happen in the next year? Bettors have time to pick their spots, buy on dips and evaluate the fighters. Should Fury-Wilder and Joshua-Pulev unfold, as planned, the odds on Fury-Joshua will fluctuate after each fight.

Watch the other players too. The Fury-Wilder and Joshua-Pulev fights haven’t been made yet. Should negotiations take too long, those fights could threaten the timetable of Fury-Joshua.

That would embolden Wilder and Pulev, or their promoters, to seek substantial set-aside money for letting Fury-Joshua proceed. Joshua also is wearing a left-knee brace this week in what’s considered a strain. What if it persists? Would he rather pay Pulev off and go right to Joshua?

Great Britain wants to cash in on this gift. It has the rare distinction of being home to the fighters controlling all four of boxing’s recognized heavyweight championship belts.

Joshua and Fury became major forces by ending Wladimir Klitschko’s reign as the world’s premier heavyweight. Klitschko went unbeaten from 2004 until 2015 – covering 22 fights – until losing by decision to Fury in 2015 and being stopped by Joshua in 2017.

Klitschko and his brother Vitali, the WBC heavyweight champion, had a lock on division supremacy for more than a decade. But they weren’t going to fight each other.

Joshua and Fury have the same type of heavyweight-belt headlock, but they intend to lock horns.

Dave Bontempo Avatar
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

View all posts by Dave Bontempo