Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury look set to meet next year in the much anticipated heavyweight showdown but it won’t be the first time they’ve stepped in the ring together.
Joshua and Fury hold all the heavyweight world titles but the British boxers are as yet to meet as professionals.
The pair have agreed a two-fight deal for next year with Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn revealing that there are only a few minor details to be ironed out ahead of a potential bout in either May or June.
But they have come up against each other before when they sparred together at the Finchley Amateur Boxing Club back in 2010.
Fury had turned professional in 2008 while Joshua was still an amateur.
AJ’s first boxing coach, Sean Murphy, was there that day and believed the young amateur, who would go on to win gold at London 2012 two years later, won over the three rounds.
When speaking about the sparring session in 2018, Murphy said: “It was early on in Tyson’s professional career and he showed up, I was outside the gym, and he said he wanted to do ‘three easy rounds’.
“So I said ‘well, it’s going to be a little bit harder, my lad’s just won the ABA’s, I’ve got the committee and a gym full of people in there and you want me to tell him to just do three easy rounds?’ And then Tyson went ‘bring it on, bring it on’.
“They sort of underestimated Joshua, they didn’t really know much about it him, so he came out all lethargic in the first round. And Joshua has stuck it on him, he’s caught him with a few good punches and Tyson put his hands on the ropes. So I said: ‘You can’t hold the ropes!’”
Murphy insists that Fury underestimated Joshua and got the better of him over the three rounds.
“I don’t think he was expecting this young lad to be as powerful and as strong as he was,” he continued.
“It was a good experience for Joshua because after that first round, which he probably won, Tyson came out and he was talking a little bit. He was winding Joshua up and made him miss a bit.
“So I had a word with him after the second and he got on again with his boxing and he probably nicked the third round. It was a really good spar and he got a lot out of it.
“There was a thing saying, that if anyone knocked him [Fury] down, he would give them his Rolex. So I said to Joshua: ‘ask him if his Rolex is up for grabs tonight,’ so Joshua said that – messing around – and he just started laughing.”
Joshua spoke about that sparring session in an interview and mentioned about wanting the Rolex that was on offer.
Joshua told The Guardian: “(He) knows about my uppercut. He knew about it from when I was . Trust me, he knows what’s coming. All I wanted was his Rolex watch [because] he said before that spar: ‘If you can beat me up or knock me out, you can have my Rolex.’ It was a good spar and I didn’t really know too much. It was just passion. Now I have some boxing IQ to go with my passion, it will be a great fight.”
Joshua added: “I was hungry then and I’m even hungrier now. There was a Rolex [on offer then] but now there is an even bigger pot of gold at the end of this rainbow and I want to take his head off his shoulders when that fight happens. I’m sure that I’ll win.”
An interview with Fury that was unearthed by the BBC following the sparring session revealed how the Gypsy King lavished praise on the young amateur.
Fury told the BBC: “Anthony Joshua’s red hot. He gave me a big uppercut [and] if I had a bit of a weak chin I’d have been knocked out for a month. I rate myself as one of the top heavyweights in the world but for three rounds he gave me a beating. I thought: ‘Oh my God, an amateur’s killing me!’”