WBA Super, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has been backed to knock out WBC king Tyson Fury by legendary fighter turned promoter Bernard Hopkins.
Rival heavyweight champions Joshua and Fury have agreed to embark on a two-fight series beginning in 2021 though there are still a number of details to be ironed out.
Yet former middleweight and light-heavyweight great Hopkins, now a partner at Golden Boy Promotions, believes Joshua has the mettle to emerge victorious and register a legacy-defining knockout.
“Joshua vs Fury is a fight that both guys could win or lose. I like Joshua to be tested, to get his feelings hurt early – that might be a knockdown but he will get up,” Hopkins told Sky Sports‘ Toe 2 Toe podcast.
“Because of the lesson that he learned being, not unprepared, but overconfident he paid a big price [in his first fight with Andy Ruiz]. He redeemed himself. Now that is in his memory – what not to do ever again – Joshua beats Fury by knockout late.
“It will be an interesting, exciting five or six rounds at the beginning. Then Joshua’s athleticism, boxing IQ and experience would overwhelm Fury. Joshua would come out of a dust-storm based on his experience.
“At this point, he has to make a really serious statement based on [the Ruiz loss]. Redemption. This fight is Joshua’s stamp of approval of being great. He’s not there yet. He is in legacy-building mode.”
There are still a number of obstacles to negotiate inside a boxing ring before that unification can become a reality.
Fury is contracted to face Deontay Wilder a third time, provisionally on December 19, and has a mandatory against interim champion Dillian Whyte looming early in 2021 while Joshua has a rescheduled IBF mandatory against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev later this year.
A deferred mandatory against WBO No.1 Oleksander Usyk could also force Joshua to relinquish that title rather than jeopardise a more lucrative fight with Fury.