Saturday’s sensational heavyweight class between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was supposed to give the victor more of a strangle hold on being the man in the division. But what the controversial draw has done is create even more argument and disagreement in Boxing’s premier division. What the draw has potentially done is mean it’ll be longer until we have one heavyweight champion.
Now, get your tinfoil hats at the ready, I have a theory as to how the game to the heavyweight throne will play out.
The Lay of the Land
After the weekend all three men who can lay claim to being some version of Heavyweight champion of the world (lineal, in Fury’s) said they want to fight each other. While one of these fights will happen in 2019, this article will look at why we won’t have one unified, undisputed heavyweight champion in 2019. Next year may see the division become even more splintered with belt holders.
Hats on? Let’s get going!
We’ll start with the big payday – the AJ fight at Wembley Stadium in April 2019. We have all heard the talk that Dillian Whyte will be the man in the opposite corner to Joshua in the main event, but here is who it could be… Kubrat Pulev. Yep, Pulev, the man who pulled out injured the last time he was slated to face Joshua. I’ll get to why I think this in a minute. But that doesn’t mean the Whyte – Chisora winner won’t fight for a world title in April.
The 2019 Theory
With the immediate rematch between Wilder and Fury being ordered meaning there won’t be a unification, the IBF could see an opening to call their mandatory to be the opponent for AJ in April. We all know how strict the IBF are with their mandatory challengers. It’s technically how Joshua became the IBF champion so soon in his career, Tyson Fury having been stripped just weeks after winning the belt for not facing their number two.
The WBO, who had had Povetkin as their mandatory but surprisingly withdrew him from that position before the AJ fight, will with a little wink and a nudge from Eddie Hearn call their mandatory challenger. This will be in the form of the Whyte – Chisora winner, leaving Joshua in the position where he has to drop either the IBF or WBO belt.
Because the IBF was AJ’s first “world title” (with another wink and a nudge from Hearn), he will drop the WBO to honour the IBF’s mandatory call, leaving the Whyte – Chisora winner to fight for the vacant title, also meaning with the right results Hearn will have his hands on two Heavyweight World Champions when AJ wins and the Whyte – Chisora winner wins the vacant WBO title.
With no mandatory for either AJ or the new WBO Champion, this could lead to both men having voluntary defences toward the end of the year, before they meet at the beginning of 2020 in what will be sold as a huge unification bout. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; I’m still on the 2019 part of my tin foil theory.
With Fury and Wilder being ordered for the immediate rematch, both men will probably agree to fight somewhere towards the middle of 2019, but don’t count on a third, the WBC will want their Mandatory honoured first. Don’t be surprised if Tyson Fury shoots up the Ring rankings after the draw and their rematch could have the Ring Magazine Title on the line as well leaving the eventual winner as the WBC, Ring Magazine and Lineal Heavyweight Champion and in 90% of fans eyes, THE man at Heavyweight.
This would mean we end 2019 with the heavyweight division looking like this:
Lineal Champion: Fury Wilder Winner
Ring Champion: Fury Wilder Winner
WBA Super Champion: Anthony Joshua
WBC Champion: Fury Wilder Winner
IBF Champion Anthony Joshua
WBO Champion: Whyte – Chisora Winner
The 2020 Theory
2020 starts the way 2017 and 2018 have finished, with boxing fans wanting a unified, undisputed Heavyweight champion and promoters start to work towards this, to a point. Matchroom announce that they have a huge unification fight between Anthony Joshua and the WBO Heavyweight Champion to keep Joshua on course to win all the belts.
This fight between AJ and the WBO Champion will allow the Fury Wilder Winner to fight their mandatory in Dominic Breazeale – as long as Breazeale stays unbeaten between now and then. This mandatory will keep the Champion busy and ready for the eventual unification with the other belt holder.
While this has all been happening, Oleksandr Usyk has finally stepped up from Cruiserweight and been made the WBO Number 1 contender as per their rules because he is their Cruiserweight Super Champion – he had held off until this point because the WBO had recently called their mandatory and he knew he wouldn’t get his WBO shot straight away. Usyk steps up and is ringside for the unification fight between Anthony Joshua and the WBO Champion.
This is where I can see things either being unified and undisputed, or I could even see it all fracturing. Again. But this is where I see the first true point that the Heavyweight Titles could be unified – the end of 2020. The point where we get a WBA Super, WBC, IBF, WBO, Ring and Lineal Titles all held by one man. But it won’t be a long unification as the eventual winner would have mandatory challengers everywhere! At the end of 2020 they would potentially have all 4 governing bodies calling their mandatories all within a short period of time, resulting in at least two belts being dropped almost instantly! As mentioned above, in this scenario, Usyk would have stepped up by this point and want his title shot, the WBA would want their mandatory obliged, the IBF are sticklers for a mandatory as well. The only one I could see not calling a mandatory straight away would be the WBC, but even that wouldn’t be out of the picture.
As I said at the top – this is the Tin Foil Hat Corner. And I could have gone off on a tangent in many different directions: what if Usyk steps up at the beginning of 2019 and becomes the WBO Mandatory, forcing the Whyte Chisora winner to push for the WBC title fight rather than the WBO? The big variable for me would be Usyk and when he was to step up.
The Game to the Throne will be a long one in my eyes. One that will be entertaining yet frustrating for the fans and one that could end up with several different outcomes. You have the three men that hold a claim to the world title right now:
- Wilder – the longest reigning champion at heavyweight right now
- Tyson Fury – the lineal champion
- Anthony Joshua – the man with the most belts
All three men can claim to be the man at the moment, but we could end up with none of them being the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the 4 belt era. The Whyte Chisora winner and Oleksandr Usyk will no doubt want to have their say on the outcome of the heavyweight scene in the next 24 months.
This is all obviously my opinion, and whatever way it pans out, the heavyweight division is fun again. Watching the game to the heavyweight throne will be fun, although I expect some flak for this piece!