Maybe Next Year: The Heavyweight Division
In December last year when Wilder and Fury went toe to toe in one of the greatest heavyweight bouts of our generation (resulting in a controversial split draw), boxing fans were certain that 2019 could see the revival of the heavyweight division.
With Wilder, Fury and Joshua all holding their claim as the world’s greatest heavyweight it seemed almost certain that we would see the division unified by the end of the year. Deontay Wilder still holds the WBC Heavyweight title. Tyson Fury still holds the lineal title he claimed after defeating Klitschko. And Olympic Gold medalist Anthony Joshua holds the rest of the belts in the heavyweight division the WBA, WBO and IBF.
The stage was set for one of the most compelling three-way rivalries in boxing history, where one man would become crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.
Yet 6 months on the heavyweight division hasn’t gotten any closer to seeing a unified champion, there seems to be a mysterious unknown force keeping these fighters from stepping in the ring with each other. Even the Wilder vs Fury rematch that was sanctioned by the WBC was unsuccessful after Fury’s decision to fight another opponent before fighting Wilder later in the year. That opponent ended up being named as German Heavyweight Tom Schwarz who is ranked 58th in the world by BoxRec. That’s right 58th. Fury Takes on Schwarz on June 15th.
You’d think Joshua would take this opportunity to step up and unify the division against Wilder, in one of the biggest fights in modern heavyweight history. Of course, you’d be wrong, Joshua opted instead to schedule a fight with a different controversial American heavyweight in Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller in New York. However, it didn’t take long for this fight to fall through with Miller testing positive for EPO and HGH, two banned performance-enhancing substances causing the New York Athletic State Commission to deny him a licence to box.
This saw Andy Ruiz Jr step forward to take the bout, a fighter who holds only one loss to Joseph Parker, who Joshua defeated last year by unanimous decision. Ruiz is ranked 14th in the world and although this is better than Fury’s opponent you can’t help but feel that Joshua should be fighting the best in the world, even Dillian Whyte has a fair claim to a rematch with Joshua winning his last nine bouts since his loss to AJ with two of them coming over former World Champions. We can expect Whyte to be fighting one of the top 3 heavyweights soon as long as he gets past Oscar Rivas in July.
Last but not least Wilder will be defending his WBC title tonight against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale, whose only loss was to Wilder’s rival Joshua back in 2016. Joshua took 7 rounds to finish Breazeale and Wilder will be looking to put him away quicker than that judging by his recent comments. Wilder has been slammed recently for saying he’s “trying to get a body on my record” hinting that he wanted to kill Breazeale. Wilder will face a hearing with the WBC over these comments who say it is “against the spirit of our sport.
So we get to see all three heavyweights in action, just not against each other; they are all likely to beat their upcoming opponents, and us fans can only pray that this is just the calm before the storm of heavyweight action. Hopefully before the end of 2019, we can see rematches between Wilder vs Fury and Joshua vs Whyte to get the heavyweight division back in the right direction, but with the way things are shaping up, I wouldn’t bank on it.