In Boxing, one division stands out above the rest. In the power division, these men hit the hardest in the sport and they are certainly the glamour division of the sport where it's biggest stars lie within.
As we move forward into 2021, there are plenty of big matchups that can be made, with many keeping active over the pandemic period. This article will outline the heavyweight landscape as part of a series of articles from VAVEL Boxing. Read on for the champions, up and comers, ones to watch and much more.
"We're going to smash AJ."— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) January 21, 2021
Tyson Fury sends a message to his rival Anthony Joshua, as talk of a potential heavyweight showdown continues 🍿 pic.twitter.com/KT7Uyr2u6W
Joshua is the unified heavyweight world champion, with a record of 24-1, 22 KO's and is fresh off the back of a KO win over Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev in December.
Fury is the WBC Champion and the lineal and ring magazine champion, with a record of 30 wins, one draw and 22 KO's. His previous fight was in February where he dethroned the then WBC Champion Deontay Wilder.
Contracts and negotiations have been ongoing for a long time now and with the money split 50/50 and a two fight deal confirmed, we await the official announcement and we expect the fight to happen outside of the UK come summer time.
It is simply, the biggest fight in Boxing and the biggest British fight of all time. The winner will become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since British legend Lennox Lewis did in the year 2000.
Everyone in the division will be awaiting these two to fight it out twice before they can start to challenge them as mandatory challengers, therefore this fight is integral to the future matchups of the division and has a big effect on who other fighters will face.
Outside of the top two in the division, there lies a good crop of heavyweights all threatening a world title shot. Those fights may be tied up for a while now as mentioned with Fury/Joshua but there are still big fights to be made between the contenders who are fighting to be next in line.
One fight that is key is Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin. On March 6th, Whyte is seeking to avenge his somewhat shock KO loss to the Russian to get his world title ambitions back on track. Povetkin at the seasoned age of 41, is looking to mount one last challenge to the heavyweight throne.
The fight between the two in August saw Whyte dominate early, dropping Povetkin a couple of times before the experienced Russian pulled out a huge left uppercut to knock Whyte clean out.
Another fight of the contenders is Joe Joyce vs Oleksandr Usyk. This hasn't been officially confirmed as of yet, but it seems these two will fight for an interim title status for the WBO belt in which the winner will face the winner of Joshua and Fury.
The two are apparently close to confirming a deal for the fight for the interim title for the WBO, as the boxing board seemed to have found a compromise with promoters to allow Fury and Joshua to fight for all the belts, rather than Joshua having to vacate the WBO. However, it seems once the Fury/Joshua fights are done, the winner would have to face the winner of this fight - which makes this an extremely important one.
Ones to Watch
There are plenty of fighters to watch in the division from younger fighters up to the fighters who are looking to turn their career's around after losses.
Beginning with the younger fighters, David Adeleye is a bright talent who fights under Frank Warren's promotional team and is currently 5-0 at the age of 23. He's sparred with all the top heavyweights over recent years such as Joshua and Fury and is a heavy handed, fantastic athlete with speed and power. He will certainly be slowly eased up the levels but he is exciting nonetheless.
Another young fighter is Fabio Wardley, who fights under Hearn's Matchroom stable. He's slowly been eased into the heavyweight scene after having minimal amateur experience. He's shown big power, energy and size by winning nine of his 10 fights by knockout and he takes on former two time world title challenger Eric Molina in March.
Another one to watch is Filip Hrgovic; the towering Croatian is a big puncher with lots of experience over his 12 fight career so far. He has a good amateur pedigree and boasts 10 KO's in his career so far. Ranked in all the governing belts, he's on the cusp of a big fight as he continues to be avoided by the bigger names.
Other names to watch out for are: the Nigerian heavyweight Efe Ajagba (14-0, 11 KO's) Tony Yoka, who was the 2016 Olympic Champion who is currently 9-0 with 7 KO's, Martin Bakole who is 16-1 with 12 KO's and finally, Michael Hunter who drew with Povetkin in 2019 and has been within touching distance of a big fight for a while now.
In terms of fighters on the comeback so to speak, Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2) shocked the world in 2019 when he beat Anthony Joshua in New York. But he showed up out of shape to the rematch and hasn't fought since December 2019. He now shares the same trainer as pound for pound star Canelo Alvarez and is expected to return to the division this year.
Another fighter who suffered a catastrophic loss was Wilder (42-1-1) who was stopped by Fury in February 2020. Since then, the trilogy fight fell through and he public shamed himself by calling out Fury for cheating. It's unsure where his future lies, as he attempts to find a way back to the top aged 35.
Lower level fighters such as Nathan Gorman (17-1) will be looking to bounce back from a tough period outside the ring. The 24-year-old has time on his side as he aims to build on his win over Richard Lartey in 2020.
Another fighter who has a long way back to where he wants to be is Daniel Dubois (15-1) Seen as the best prospect in the division, the 22-year-old was outgunned and out jabbed by Joyce in November and suffered serious injuries to his eye socket. Latest news shows that he is meeting with a specialist next month and will aim to start training again before summer and you imagine a carefully considered approach as he aims to build his career back up.
With this division live and kicking, there are so many fights/fighters to watch out for as we look to see if the men in charge of these fighters can bring us the biggest fight in boxing.
The year will ultimately be defined by Joshua vs Fury but there are plenty of other matchups that we all want to see and hopefully 2021 will be a fruitful and entertaining one.