Boxing: The Heavyweight Division Landscape in 2018
Historically no division in boxing has been as important to a sport as the heavyweights have throughout the long and illustrious existence of the sweet science. The power and athleticism that these giants have and display for fans often leave an unforgettable impact. Also leaving the audience clamoring for more. In modern times the heavyweights have lost their luster. Especially since the end of the Tyson vs Holyfield era for many American fight fans; Lewis for British fans.
Fortunately, that all changed November 2015. When the long 10-year reign of the dominant, yet not globally captivating, Ukrainian born fighter, Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) ended at the hands of Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs). Since then Fury had his substance abuse issues and was banned from fighting for now over two years. With his suspension now lifted, the self-proclaimed Gypsy King is inclined to a title shot as the true lineal heavyweight; the only question is when?
After the delayed and car-crash like suspension of Tyson Fury, a new pretty face entered the world stage of boxing. Britain’s Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs) IBF, IBO, WBA World Heavyweight Champ took down Wladimir Klitschko in his well-publicized swan-song final fight. The fight was electric. 80,000 fans filled Wembley Stadium. Thus witnessing what felt like a true passing of the torch to the perceived classy, well spoken, and confident Anthony Joshua. Hence Joshua would go on to become consensus “Fight of the Year”. Many fans felt as if the heavyweight division was finally back; well, sort of.
With having so many sanctioning bodies involved in boxing the one main thing that is clear to all fans is the difficulty of seeing fights when the demand is at its highest. Promoters protect their investments for as long as possible using every legal technicality possible; the machine of boxing stops for no one, not Ali, not Tyson, and especially not the heavyweights of our current time.
The fight that needs to be made in 2018 to continue a resurgence in heavyweight relevance is Anthony Joshua vs American and current WBC Champ Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs). The AJ vs Wilder fight could most certainly take place. It looks like we’ll first see Wilder vs mandatory Luis Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) fighting March 3rd. AJ vs WBO champ from New Zealand Joseph Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) is in negotiations for a unification fight around the same time, most likely April. Should Wilder and Joshua take care of business expect one of the biggest fights in heavyweight boxing to begin difficult negotiations.
Unfortunately, the odd man out could be Tyson Fury initially. He needs to focus on massive weight loss and over a two-year absence from the ring. In a relative timeline, Fury could face the winner of AJ vs Wilder, creating another undefeated heavyweight championship fight. Styles always make fights in boxing. Between champs like Wilder, Joshua, Parker, Fury, and challenger Ortiz, the stage is not any more clear. Get these guys in the ring and give the fans what they deserve!