Not since Lennox Lewis at the turn of the millennium has boxing seen an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World and, ironically, even his claim at the Undisputed title is disputed in some quarters.
Nevertheless, a true Undisputed champion has been a long time coming, but a new one could arise in 2019. The question is, though, who could it be?
Heavyweight boxing is in a fascinating position right now. There are three unbeaten Heavyweights in their physical prime, all with very different styles, and seemingly now ready to go at it: Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua.
After shocking the world by beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, Fury’s reign at the top of the sport was short before drug and mental health issues almost destroyed his life and career in the subsequent years.
After losing almost 10 stone, Fury returned to the ring in 2018, rounding off the year with a dramatic draw with Deontay Wilder. Many believe that Fury should have won the fight on points, despite having been brutally knocked down twice.
There’s no doubt that Fury, standing at a monstrous 6’9, is an incredibly tricky opponent, with his long, defensive, counter-punching, point-scoring style hard for boxers to break down. If he can avoid being knocked out by Deontay Wilder in the expected spring rematch, Fury will surely win if it’s decided by the judges, meaning he’ll surely be in line to see which British fighter will become the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World against Anthony Joshua. A potential late summer bout at Wembley seems likely if he gets past Wilder.
But avoiding knockout by Wilder is no easy task. Only two fighters have ever managed it: Fury and Bermane Stiverne (the latter of whom was savagely knocked out in the first round in a rematch). Nobody has power like Wilder.
Even deep into fights – as was the case with Fury – Wilder can find a single knockout punch from nowhere – even if Fury somehow managed to get back miraculously back to his feet.
For explosiveness, showmanship and unpredictability, many boxing fans are desperate to see Wilder take on Joshua for the unified crown, with boxing betting markets making Joshua the favourite in any potential bout.
Joshua is the golden boy of the division, but pressure is mounting on him to fight one of the division’s elite, i.e. Wilder or Fury. After Wilder and Fury face off, a fight to see who is the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World simply has to happen in 2019 – it can’t be put off any longer.
As always, Joshua is the favorite for every fight he enters and the same will be the same against Fury and Wilder. It unified crown has long seemed destined for the Londoner, but can the trickiness of Fury or the power of Wilder finally stop him?