Did Tyson Fury spoil Anthony Joshua's "signature fight"?

The self-proclaimed Gypsy King dethroned Wladimir Klitschko to become the unified world heavyweight champion in 2015

Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko


English garage band The Streets open their critically acclaimed second album - 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' - with the wonderfully hectic and, in equal measures, overwhelmingly frustrating track 'It Was Supposed To Be So Easy'.

In the song, main protagonist Mike Skinner sets about a list of daily chores to get done before he has to "hurry" to an unknown destination. 

"Just take back the DVD/Withdraw that extra money/Tell mum I wouldn't be back for tea/Then grab my savings and hurry," he sings, before detailing how each task goes pear-shaped and pig-eared.

How Anthony Joshua must feel a certain twinge of that frustration.

Why should he, you may ask, when he has booked his date with destiny against heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium and is likely to take home quite a pretty penny as a result? There is expected to be 90,000 fans in attendance, the biggest crowd to attend a boxing match since Len Harvey and Jock McAvoy slugged it out at White City Stadium in 1939.

The answer is two-fold. Firstly, Joshua doesn't care that much for the money. The Watford boxer has had to endure a troubled past, so he knows value of it, but at no point in his career has he let it blind him. Joshua seeks a legacy, not lump sums.

Throughout his professional career, the 27-year-old has steamrolled all who were put before him - bar, perhaps, Dillian Whyte, who took Joshua seven rounds before he could close out the fight with his 15th straight knockout.

After what was a particularly nasty build-up to the fight, Joshua was handed the biggest test of his boxing career and discovered that his power would not obliterate everyone in his path. Moreover, Whyte wobbled the Olympic gold medallist on a number of occasions during the fight.

In the early stages, Joshua had his tongue pushed firmly out of his mouth, mocking his adversary from the amateur ranks. Whyte's persistence, heart and chin kept him coming back for more and delivered Joshua's first fight worthy of real, tangible praise.

He celebrated richly and learned from the experience. It was a valuable lesson in humility; not that Joshua needed one of course. His out-of-ring demeanor is one of the most grounded in the business.

So when Klitschko took on another Brit, Tyson Fury, in Düsseldorf in late 2015, Joshua was surely watching with a keen interest. This was the man he was ultimately vying to take on. To take down.

Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko, left, and Britain's Tyson Fury compete in a world heavyweight title fight for Klitschko's WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts in the Esprit Arena in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Fury beat Klitschko in November to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF titles.(AP Photo/Martin Meissner,file)

Bookies made the Ukrainian unified world heavyweight champion favourite heading into the fight and Fury knew it wouldn't be enough to out-point the reigning champion. On numerous occasions, Fury explained that to win the fight, he would have to knock the champion out.

In the end, he didn't have to. Fury took the decision victory with some smart boxing, picking his shots and picking apart his opponent.

Joshua will have watched on and witnessed part of his potential legacy crumble away. There's no doubt Joshua wanted to be the man who took down Klitschko. His ambition, coupled with the run he was on, saw talk of him eventually meeting the 40-year-old as almost inevitable.

With the decision loss and the two subsequent rematches being scrapped due to Fury's well documented struggles with depression, there was certainly no closure for either Joshua or the Ukrainian. It's important to point out that Fury remains medically unfit to fight and he should be commended for being as open about his struggles with mental illness.

In any case, the belts were vacated. It was all to play for.

Anthony Joshua knocks out American Charles Martin to become IBF world heavyweight champion. Image: Nick Potts PA Wire/PA Images

The second part in understanding his frustration is that Fury's victory over Klitschko showed the world that the Ukrainian was beatable. Prior to the fight, Klitschko had racked up three defeats in a career spanning 67 fights but for the best part of a decade he looked invincible. He, alongside his brother Vitali, had dominated the heavyweight division.

Some challengers came to take a swipe at the pair - towering Russian Nikolai Valuev, Britain's David Haye, as well as Dereck Chisora all emerged as credible opponents. Deontay Wilder made his own waves across the pond, but still could not achieve the dominance of the Ukrainians. Try as they might, there was only one dominant force in heavyweight boxing. The Klitschko Brothers.

Joshua still refers to this Wembley bout as his "signature fight" and to a degree you can see why. His biggest fight, in front of a record crowd and going into it a defending champion, is something that he could only have dreamed at the start of 2016.

It could all have been so different. Had he gone into a fight with Klitschko, whenever the opportunity had come around, he could have gone in against perhaps one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. This is not to detract from Klitschko's reputation, but the last 14 months of not quite knowing when, where or who he will fight has put a slight smudge on his record.

The Ukrainian goes into the fight with something to prove and belts to win back. It's not necessarily a reputation he has to save, but to reaffirm the point that regardless what has happened in the recent past, he remains top of his game. And he plans to go out that way.

So rather than this becoming a crowning moment for Joshua, he goes into the fight with the greater momentum. The unbeaten young gun who comes up against a man out-foxed by Fury.

What an incredible achievement it will be for Joshua to overcome it all and reach the top of his division. But under the bright lights in Wembley Stadium, will it feel a little hollow?