Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are on a collision course in 2021 and bookmakers are already taking bets on what is being billed as the biggest heavyweight title fight since Muhammad Ali first fought Joe Frazier in 1971.
Frazier inflicted Ali’s first ever professional defeat in that bout – which was billed as the ‘Fight of the Century’ – and 50 years on the current top two in the heavyweight division look set to leave their own mark on the 21st century.
The undefeated Fury, 32, is the early favourite with Paddy Power, William Hill and Betfair all going 4/7 on the WBC world heavyweight champion, with a draw priced up at 25/1.
That makes IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua an 11/8 underdog, with Betway offering the biggest price on the 31-year-old (7/4) in what will be the first time all four heavyweight belts are contested, should the fight get made.
Most of the early money is going on the value with AJ attracting a larger volume of bets so far, with his supporters seemingly buoyed by the ninth-round knockout of Kubrat Pulev on December 12 which paved the way for talks with Fury’s camp over a 2021 super-fight.
Talks are ongoing but there are some stumbling blocks – former champion Deontay Wilder is entitled to a re-match with Fury for the WBC belt, while Joshua could yet be ordered by the WBO to fight mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk.
Due to the lingering doubts, bookies are taking bets on the fight under the premise that it takes place at any stage in 2021, with bets to be refunded should the two fail to fight before the year is out.
In his post-fight press conference following the Pulev win, Joshua was asked if he had any thoughts on the fact that bookmakers see Fury as the favourite over him.
He said: "I've been to his fights, I've watched him, so when I fight him it will be good to change those odds and put them in my favour."
Meanwhile, Ladbrokes have a market on ‘Anthony Joshua’s Next Fight’ with Fury fancied (11/8) over Usyk (2/1), while Deontay Wilder - who was knocked out by Fury in February - has lost some of his pulling power and is therefore 11/4 third favourite.