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The Sorry State of the Heavyweight Division

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The heavyweight division has always been the biggest and most glamorous in boxing, having produced many of the sport’s most illustrious and greatest names throughout history.

Mention heavyweight boxing and legendary names quickly come to mind. Muhammad Ali, being the most prestigious, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Mike Tyson, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis.

The list goes on. From the early days of prize-fighting, through to more modern times and up to the current climate, there has been no shortage of iconic pugilists to don their gloves and reign supreme as world heavyweight champion.

Whoever holds such a title is typically viewed as the baddest man on the planet; the fighter at the summit of the sport’s biggest and most followed division. But, as Bob Dylan once famously sang, the times they are a-changin’.

Even during the early 1900s and later on in heavyweight boxing history, political and business matters often got in the way of the most promising and alluring match-ups being agreed. But they always got there in the end.

Fast forward to the present day, and fans around the world are continuously being forced to endure a seemingly endless wait for the top names to finally collide with each other in the ring and determine who is the top dog.

It’s now common knowledge that the three leading fighters in the division are, in no particular order of superiority, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. This trio of stars are the ones fight fans have been clamoring for to mix and match and battle with each other for the right to declare themselves the main man.

But, of course, boxing today doesn’t work like that, and it has been a long and frustrating wait for any such meetings to come to fruition.

Frustrating times for the division

When Wilder and Fury first agreed to meet in the squared circle at the backend of last year, it was a surprise. Two of the top three fighters in the heavyweight division actually squaring off against one another? That reaction proved how proceedings go this day and age.

But, nevertheless, the heavyweight showdown lived up to expectations placed upon it as the pair played out an exciting 12-round stalemate.

The immediate reaction was that WBC heavyweight champion Wilder was very lucky to have come away with a draw and his belt still in his possession. Meanwhile, British challenger and former unified king Fury, his team and legions of supporters were appalled at the scorecards.

An instant rematch between Wilder and Fury this year looked set and made the most sense, with it looking to be set for March or April of this year. But, again, that’s not how modern-day boxing works. As reported by CBS Sport, rather than squaring off in a second scuffle to try and determine a winner this time around and potentially set up an epic trilogy bout, things went in the opposite direction.

Fury signed with a rival promoter to Wilder, which was the first nail in the rematch coffin, leading to Wilder instead blitzing compatriot Dominic Breazeale, as reported by SportingNews, and Fury opting to tackle little-known Tom Schwarz.

Mismatches galore on the horizon

In what is another frustrating mismatch involving one of the top heavyweights in world boxing, and as of May 31st, Fury will take to the ring on June 16th as the overwhelming odds-on 1/66 favorite with Betway to overcome Tom Schwarz as widely expected.

Meanwhile, fellow Briton and hopeful heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte is also regarded as a huge front runner in his latest upcoming ring outing. The Londoner will face off with Oscar Rivas and is seen as the odds-on 1/7 favorite for success at the O2 Arena come July 20th this summer.

Whyte is probably the other most notable name outside the supposed big three, but his apparent reluctance to accept bouts with ‘AJ’ (again) and Wilder in recent years have cast a shadow of skepticism over his claims of being overlooked for the big paydays.

Negotiations and supposed talks are always skewed in the current climate, and what has actually been happening behind the scenes remains unclear. But the main men of the division could have easily faced each other at this point, with greed and financial gain standing in the way of the best facing the best.

It looks like fans will have to wait even longer for any of the top names at heavyweight actually colliding, with Wilder set for a Luis Ortiz rematch later in 2019. Maybe 2020 could be the year that heavyweight boxing finally sees the best facing the best.

 

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