The heavyweight division in boxing is currently caught up in a triangular-power struggle between three very different personalities. For more than a few months now, Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury have exchanged insults, threats, and tweets, but fans have been left without much in the way of fights. That is due to change though in the upcoming months, with Joshua set to fight the winner of Fury and Wilder, but will those two fights actually live up to the hype?
Why is there so much hype?
Part of fighters (and promoters)’ jobs is to build hype and sell their own fights. Connor McGregor is someone who does this very well, and it was the hype he generated that gave people genuine belief that he was going to beat Floyd Mayweather – one of the best pound-for-pound boxers ever. Subsequently, millions of people watched a fight that in hindsight was more predictable than it was built up to be.
The hype surrounding this division largely stems from two factors. Firstly, the quality of each fighter. If one fighter was clearly superior to the others, the culmination of this saga would feel more like a formality. However, the fact that each fighter poses a genuine threat to one another makes for a gripping next few months.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the outlandish behavior and confidence of the fighters make for an entertaining watch. Tyson Fury has never been one to hold his tongue, and his (at times) peculiar and unpredictable behavior means that he always adds a certain intrigue to his fights.
Sticking with Fury, the next two big fights in the heavyweight division will be of huge interest to not just boxing fans, but the wider public in general due to the circumstances surrounding the Manchester boxer.
After beating Wladimir Klitschko to become the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, he later had his license revoked for drug-related issues. Few thought he would even box again, let alone get back to fighting for belts. But on the 9th June 2018, he returned to beat Sefer Seferi – and that was the beginning of his route back to the top. However, since his return, he has not looked all that convincing.
During his three year ‘hiatus,’ all fans got was a tirade of words that mainly surrounding the word ‘bums,’ so finally the world of boxing will get to see if Fury is and has been all talk or whether he will actually live up to his promise and defeat Wilder and Joshua. Either way though, the context surrounding his return makes for quite a story.
Anthony Joshua (Golden Boy)
In stark contrast, Joshua keeps his head down, stays away from controversy and rarely berates opponents. After being an Olympic Champion in London 2012, he embraced his role model status and is now one of boxing’s poster boys.
He is far from just a respectful person though. Joshua’s unbeaten record hosts an array of impressive knockouts, with only Joseph Parker managing to go the full distance with the Englishman. This winning streak adds spice to an already spicy division.
Why Deontay Wilder’s not the main man
Another heavyweight who also boasts an undefeated record with all but one of his wins coming via knockout is Deontay Wilder. The American has more wins and KOs on his record than Joshua and has also been involved in some controversy like Fury- most recently verbal sparring with rival Dominic Breazeale. So why is he not as popular as the other two?
Upon further inspection of Wilder’s boxing record, the opponents he has faced must come under scrutiny. Two victories over Bermane Stiverne seem to be the highlight in an underwhelming list of wins but still makes his record decent nonetheless. On the other side of things, Wilder is not as loud, not as sharp and not as marketable as Tyson Fury.
Marketable is not meant in the traditional sense, but rather marketable for the media. You will always get a funny quote from Fury, and he has underdog story going for him being from a ‘gypsy’ background. Wilder’s popularity and presence is just far inferior to that of his two rivals. AJ’s last three fights saw a total of 243,000 people attend, in contrast to just 42,000 attendees in total for Wilder’s last three, and that just epitomizes this issue.
All three bring something
Having said that, all three fighters do bring a certain something to the division, and that is what makes it interesting. Joshua and especially Wilder’s careers have been somewhat criticized for not holding as much weight due to the fighters they’ve faced, but this have left both nowhere else to go. Joshua will have to now fight either Wilder or Fury.
Which essentially means that whatever the outcome, whoever it is who will hold the belts when these three fight one another, we should have a definitive answer to the questions we’ve been asking for years now. The context surrounding the division and each fighter will make the next two big fights dramatic. The individual traits of each boxer finally being put against one another will ensure we see something uniquely-immense and the hype will most certainly be justified.