‘He boxed his head off’: Details emerge of Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury sparring session

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Anthony Joshua “boxed Tyson Fury’s head off” when the pair met in a behind-closed-doors sparring session more than a decade ago, it has been claimed.

Joshua and Fury’s long-awaited heavyweight world title clash has yet to come to fruition, despite Fury announcing that a date and location had been agreed for the unification bout earlier this year.

But the British rivals have faced each other in the ring before, with Fury trading blows with the then-amateur Joshua in a London gym in 2010.

Only a handful of fellow fighters and coaches were there to witness the session, including Joshua’s former trainer Sean Murphy, who has claimed Joshua got the better of the ‘Gypsy King’ in the three-round bout.

Joshua was two years away from fighting for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics, where he won heavyweight gold, and Murphy said Fury was expecting an easy few rounds against the amateur, only for Joshua to land an early blow and anger the then 10-0 Fury.

“They’ve come out and Josh has thrown an uppercut, left hook and [Fury] was on wobbly legs!” Murphy recounted to BBC Radio 5 Live.

“He’s holding the ropes and I’m telling him, ‘No you can’t do that you can’t hold the ropes’, and he gets off. But Josh got the better of him in the third round.

“I’ve said to him for the second to just go and do what he’s done, but Tyson starts mouthing off to Josh, getting in his ear talking to him.

“So Josh is getting a bit wild, trying to knock him out, and I had to tell him to stick to his boxing and do what I told him and ignore the talking.

“So he’s gone out the next round, ignored it and boxed his head off.”

Murphy then decided to pull Joshua out of the ring but said that Fury was demanding for one more round.

Soon after the sparring session, Fury was quoted by BBC London as saying that Joshua was one to watch after admitting that he had been caught by the amateur.

“If I’d have had a bit of a weak chin, I’d have been knocked out for a month,” Fury said at the time. “He’s very, very good and he’s only young, 20, watch out for that name Anthony Joshua - he is one prospect for the future.

“He came out at me for three rounds and he gave me a beating - I’m not going to deny it, he gave me hell for leather for three rounds.”

Fury changed his story years later, however, and in 2018 claimed he was out of shape at the meeting.

“We’ve had a spar before. He had a good couple of rounds then I started hitting him round the body,” he said. “He was lifting his legs up in the corner, there were ten people in the gym who saw him do it.”

Joshua gave his own version of events in 2016, stating: “I didn’t even know who Fury was. He was in London at the time, come down from Manchester. I didn’t manage to knock him out, we both hit each other with some big shots, powerful shots.”

Joshua will fight the undefeated Oleksandr Usyk on 25 September, before Fury returns to the ring for the first time in 18 months when he takes on Deontay Wilder for the third time in Las Vegas on 9 October.

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