By Scott Gilfoid: Fans still don’t know who the number #1 heavyweight is in the division due to there being two champions in Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury, but the picture should be more precise in 2022.
Essentially, five fighters are vying for the #1 spot in the division, and they are as follow:
- Tyson Fury – WBC champion
- Oleksandr Usyk – IBF, WBA & WBO champion
- Anthony Joshua
- Dillian Whyte – Interim WBC champion
- Deontay Wilder
As of now, many boxing fans, particularly those in the UK, believe that WBC champion Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) is the #1 heavyweight division and the guy that beats the other four.
Unfortunately, due to Fury’s less than an impressive eleventh round knockout win over Deontay Wilder in their trilogy match on October 9th, the Gypsy King has lost a lot of credibility among fans.
In that fight, Fury appeared to be given a long count in the fourth that rivaled the infamous 1927 ‘Long Count fight’ between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Wilder dropped Fury, and it appeared that 11 seconds rattled off the clock before he got back to his feet. When you add the controversy of that strange situation with Fury’s first fight against Deontay in which he was knocked cold in the 12th and shockingly given a count by the referee while he was unconscious, it’s difficult to say conclusively that he’s the #1 heavyweight in the division.
If anything, you got to say that Wilder should be above Fury if the right calls were made in those two fights.
Last September, the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) shocked the world by outboxing then IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) in beating him by a conclusive 12 round unanimous decision at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium in North London.
So confident that Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn was of victory that he chose not to encourage his fighter AJ to vacate his WBO title to swerve the crafty mandatory Usyk.
In hindsight, this proved to be a dreadful mistake, as Usyk put on a masterclass in easily outboxing the lumbering 6’6″ giant Joshua.
Once again, Hearn shows overconfidence in his badly flawed heavyweight Joshua by backing his faulty decision-making in using his rematch clause to FORCE a second fight with the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk.
Despite virtually the entire world saying Joshua should steer clear of a second fight with Usyk, he’s insisting on fighting the Ukrainian a second time.
This fight could prove to be Joshua’s Waterloo, and Hearn is going to be the one that will take the blame by many boxing fans for falling in lock-step with his wacky idea of facing Usyk a second time.
WBC interim heavyweight champion Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) would seem to be the least likely of the group of five to be chosen as the #1 fighter in the division.
Whyte, 33, was knocked out by 40-year-old Alexander Povetkin in 2020 in their first fight, and it was only after the Russian fighter came back from a terrible case of COVID-19 that Dillian was able to avenge his loss.
Many boxing fans believe Whyte has played the victim for many years, complaining night and day about being overlooked for a title shot against former WBC champion Wilder and current champ Fury.
When you look at Whyte’s actions, he only has himself to blame for not getting a title shot. He had the opportunity to fight Luis Ortiz in 2018 when the World Boxing Council ordered a title eliminator between them, but Dillian chose not to take the fight.
When Whyte finally agreed to fight in a title eliminator against the arguably softer target Oscar Rivas in 2019, he’d already lost a lot of time.
The way that Whyte looked in his first fight with Povetkin, and his contests against Joseph Parker, Dereck Chisora, and Mariusz Wach, makes it impossible to pick him as the #1 heavyweight in the division.
Whyte looks like a slightly bigger version of journeyman Chisora and has many of the same flaws in his game.
This writer has already pointed out that Joshua is too heavily flawed right now to put him at the #1 spot in the heavyweight division. Joshua’s career is like a sinking ship, and his promoter Hearn can’t bail water fast enough to keep AJ’s boat from going down.
Joshua’s defeat last September was his second in his previous four fights since 2019, and if he loses the rematch with the 34-year-old Usyk next April, as many expect, it’ll be his third defeat in his last five fights.
With a record of 2-3 in his last five contests, that would be a CLEAR sign that Joshua’s career as a top-level heavyweight would be effectively over. As such, you couldn’t call Joshua the #1 heavyweight in the division for apparent reasons.
However, Joshua will still be a money-maker and would likely continue to be Matchroom Boxing’s #1 guy when it comes to bringing in the dough. It’s just that you couldn’t refer to Joshua as the #1 or even the #4 heavyweight in the division.
Like journeyman Dereck Chisora, Joshua will continue to bring in massive money for his fights regardless of how many defeats he takes because the UK boxing fans don’t abandon him.
The last two stoppage losses former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder suffered at the hands of Tyson Fury removes him from consideration as the #1 heavyweight on the planet.
Of course, if you look at the odd things that happened in Wilder’s three fights with Fury, you can make a strong argument that Deontay should still be unbeaten and in the running for the #1 spot.
If you consider the first and third Wilder-Fury fights as knockout victories for Wilder due to him having knocked Fury out in a true sense, the only thing you can question is the second fight.
That’s the one that Fury got away with murder in terms of the rabbit punching that he was doing throughout the contest. In addition to the rabbit punching by Fury, there was also his flapping gloves that have made many boxing fans suspicious.
They believe that Fury somehow got his hand to slip below the padded portion of his gloves during the fight with Wilder and was basically hitting him with punches with his bare knuckles during the battle.
Afterward, it was reported that Wilder had an egg-shaped dent in his skull from the fight. In other words, the force of Fury’s punches may have dented Wilder’s skull during the battle.
Again, there’s just too much controversy surrounding those three Wilder-Fury fights to conclude that Wilder isn’t the #1 heavyweight in the division.
Dillian Whyte missed out in 2021
“It was frustrating because he only boxed once, and the first one was in March,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV on Dillian Whyte, only fighting once in 2021.
“Obviously, the Otto Wallin fight that everyone thinks that [Dillian bailed out on],” said Hearn. “He was going to make a lot of money for that fight. And he wanted to fight Otto Wallin.
“He couldn’t fight him [because of a shoulder injury]. A few weeks later, he gets the order from the WBC. So bittersweet in some respects, but now he moves forward for a title,” Hearn said of Whyte.
“But if he had gone Povetkin, Wallin, Fury, it would have been a much more preferred year for Dillian Whyte, but he’s in good shape. He’s in a good place, and it looks like he’s finally going to get his opportunity,” said Hearn.
Hearn convinced Fury facing Whyte
“Well, he’s fighting Tyson Fury. The negotiations have been ordered, probably after Christmas if there’s no deal. I don’t know the exact date because it wasn’t on the correspondence. But normally, it’s 28 or 30 days of negotiations,” said Hearn.
“The purse bids will be ordered, and when the purse bids are ordered, the split will be determined, and we can still do a deal for that week or ten days or whatever it is. But anything can happen, mate, anything. Don’t rule anything out.
“I’m just being completely honest about the situation, but I’m also saying that anything can happen. Right now, I’m telling you that I think Fury is going to fight Whyte, and AJ is going to fight Usyk.
“Unless he agreed for that not to happen, but that’s not the case,” said Hearn about Whyte not agreeing to move aside for Fury to fight someone else.
“The kind of money that is going to be paid to him to step aside, I don’t feel that’s going to even entertain a discussion. So again, anything can happen, but I’m almost certain that Fury or not, Dillian Whyte’s next fight will be for the WBC world heavyweight title,” said Hearn.