The Heavyweight Champion of the World was once the king of the world.
The Baddest Man Alive.
Star after star stepped up and delivered historic events to the eyes of millions. Inspiration was found in these larger than life athletes. What was once the crowning pinnacle of the boxing world has all but recently become a novelty. An echo of the past greats who ruled the sporting world. There are plenty of articles and discussions about the history of heavyweight boxing and what went wrong, but I’m not here to delve into the past because of what is right in front of us…
There has been an awakening.
To the boxing purists it may be hard to see, but to the general public heavyweight boxing is on it’s way to the headlines again. The two biggest stars in my opinion are at the forefront after both of their next fights being announced for the fall: Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
Photo Credits: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Anthony Joshua is one of the biggest names in boxing right now. As a very personable athlete with huge marketability and immense power, he’s a leading figure in the renaissance of heavyweight boxing.
AJ is coming off his biggest fight to date and I can’t understate the term “biggest” enough. I wrote about the magical epic showdown against heavyweight legend Wladimir Klitschko and I believe I could’ve written 2-3 times the length I did about the War at Wembley (nice ring to it). It was an iconic fight, and in my opinion the greatest sporting spectacle of the year.
AJ proved that he is a true fighter and great drawing force in the fight game and with growing skills comes growing expectations. Bigger fights, larger shows, greater opponents, higher stakes. It’s a natural progression that beholds to those of greatness.
And now, the megastar’s latest fight is scheduled against…
The top stories of a Google search of Kubrat Pulev.
The 36 year-old hails from Bulgaria and has held the European Heavyweight title twice throughout his 25-1-0 record. That only loss ironically came at the hands of Joshua’s last victim Wladimir Klitschko back in 2014.
You’d be forgiven for questioning this kind of a move following the blockbuster battle back in April. Joshua clearly has earned the right to charter his career and opponents throughout but is opting instead to adhere to the IBF mandatory challenger.
This act of congruence with the IBF is stark in contrast to the other name…
Photo Credits: Tom Casino/Showtime
Deontay Wilder is a ferocious competitor with a 38-0 record at a 97% KO ratio. The Alabama boxer has seen a tremendous rise in the fight game as he won the WBC Heavyweight Title in 2015 ending the longest streak in boxing history without an American heavyweight champion.
At a stark contrast with Joshua, Deontay Wilder has dealt with a lot of criticism for his style and choice of opponents. Comparing the stardom of the two is apples and oranges. I believe it to be unfair, but that’s how the boxing community is.
His mandatory challenger is Bermane Stiverne whom Deontay won the title from. Technically, he is the next in line for a shot for the title but was paid off to allow Wilder to face off against Cuban heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz. Despite rankings and mandatory assignments, a price is being paid for this scrap. Ortiz is a serious challenge for Deontay, with their styles truly at odds with each other. Wilder the wild, unorthodox knockout artist and Ortiz a technical tough-guy. Both are well known and the event itself should be a successful show. It’s an example of the best fighting the best outside of the organizational rankings and belt politics, one for the fans.
Despite the two paths of these champs, Joshua and Wilder seem destined for each other. The largest most popular heavyweights of their respective countries. Both are climbing the mountain towards a showdown, even if their paths are different.