The exciting state of Heavyweight Boxing

Boxing Friday June 7, 2024 By: Harry Howes

Heavyweight boxing is back!

Heavyweight boxing is back! For the first time in what feels like forever, the heavyweight division is in full flow, with genuine contenders left, right and centre, as well as countless potential match-ups.

With the likes of Oleksander Usyk, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua already preparing for their next fights, we’ve taken a look at the current state of the heavyweight boxing scene.

Christmas could come early for Fury

Fury finally surrendered his unbeaten record last month as he was beaten by Usyk in their heavyweight bout. But the British fighter could be getting an early Christmas present after sealing a rematch later this year.

The pair will meet again on Saturday 21st December in Riyadh, with Fury desperate to prove a point after he claimed he should have been given the win a few weeks ago. Usyk maintained his winning run by beating Fury in a split decision, with the judges scoring in the Ukrainian’s favour after he achieved a knockdown in the ninth.

The win meant Usyk is now the first ever undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in the new four-belt era, as well as being the first to claim the title in 24 years. The 37-year-old adds Fury to a list of defeated opponents that features Joshua and Daniel Dubois.

But he’ll have to do it all again in December after Fury activated the rematch clause, meaning all of the belts will be going on the line again – unless the IBF have their way. Their rules state that champions cannot take part in rematches when a title defence is due.

As a result, Usyk may be stripped of the IBF belt before the fight with Fury, meaning the rematch would no longer be an undisputed bout. Usyk has appealed the decision but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be successful.

Joshua to fight Dubois for the title?

With four consecutive wins under his belt, Joshua is booked in for his next fight at Wembley in September, although it’s yet to be confirmed who he’ll face. Talks are reportedly underway with Dubois after AJ watched him beat Filip Hrgovic at the weekend.

Joshua has previously been a two-time unified champion but he relinquished his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO titles when he lost to Usyk in September 2021. Since losing the rematch the following summer, Joshua has been back on form and has enjoyed four wins in a row over the last year.

Last time out he beat UFC star Francis Ngannou with a second-round knockout and he’s as hungry as ever as he awaits his next challenge. Dubois has sent warning shots to Joshua, insisting that he’s got what it takes to beat him.

And if the pair do meet in the autumn, it may well be for the IBF title. Dubois’ win over Hrgovic saw him become the interim IBF champion, meaning he’ll automatically take the belt should Usyk lose his appeal.

Dubois would be a tough test for AJ as he proved in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, stopping the previously unbeaten Hrgovic in the seventh round. The 26-year-old has won all but two of his professional fights, losing to fellow Brit Joe Joyce back in 2020 before failing in his quest to stop Usyk in Poland last summer.

Who are the other heavyweight contenders?

A few years ago, the heavyweight division felt a bit stale, with Fury, Joshua and Deontay Wilder the only contenders. Thankfully, the division is back to its best, with plenty of fighters waiting for their opportunity to prove themselves.

For Wilder, his stock has dropped after he was knocked out in the fifth round by Zhilei Zhang at the weekend. It was his fourth defeat in his last five fights, including two against Fury and a unanimous decision loss against Joseph Parker.

The American had previously been destined to fight Joshua but with such a poor recent record, it will take some comeback to get back to his previous standing. On the contrary, Zhang’s credentials have catapulted following the win over Wilder.

Despite being aged 41, the Chinese fighter is one of the more prominent contenders, although he did lose the interim WBO title to Parker earlier this year. Parker, who has not returned to the ring since beating Zhang in March, has also beaten Wilder in the last 12 months.

The New Zealander remains the WBO interim champion, meaning he could get the chance to take on Usyk. Parker has also long been destined for a rematch with Dillian Whyte, who beat him in London back in 2018. Whyte, meanwhile, had been hoping to face Joshua earlier this year, although rumours on that clash seem to have cooled.

Elsewhere, Joyce is set to face Derek Chisora next month, while Andy Ruiz Jr, who previously beat AJ, will go head-to-head with Jarrell Miller in August.

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