Sport

Britain takes pride of place with all world heavyweight titles

Britain takes pride of place with all world heavyweight titles
  • Promoter announces another Fury, Wilder fight on July 18 in Las Vegas
  • Joshua won back his titles from Ruiz Jnr in the ‘Clash of Dunes and Tyson Fury made minced meat of opponent Wilder last month
  • Then came the Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury fight last February 22 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder, the American WBC title holder, was no match for the fists of Fury. By round seven, Wilder's handlers threw in the towel to save their fighter.

There may be no countries to conquer as part of colonies expansion as that era is over; but the former British Empire now Britain, has one major reason to feel proud. Two of its best boxers hold all the world heavyweight boxing title belts.

First it was Anthony Joshua. His Biblical namesake Joshua asked God to stop the sun from setting so he could fight Israel’s enemies on their way to Canaan. God did exactly that.

Joshua, the boxer, too had his prayers answered as he regained his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles from the Mexican-American champion Andy Ruiz Jr in a battle billed as “Clash On The Dunes” in Saudi Arabia on December 7, 2019 via unanimous decision.

Earlier, Joshua had lost the fight by a seventh round technical knockout to Ruiz Jr on June 1, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Then came the Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury fight last February 22 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder, the American WBC title holder, was no match for the fists of Fury. By round seven, Wilder's handlers threw in the towel to save their fighter.

Wilder complained to his handlers that they should not have stopped the fight because he had a way of handling such situations against his opponents.

SAVED

He doesn’t want a towel thrown in the ring to save him.

For boxing lovers who follow the details in a major fight, there are those boxers who are beaten thoroughly on points but refuse to be knocked out only to produce an unexpected spectacular performance that completely knocks out their overrated opponent.

That is how some underdogs perform - summoning unknown and hidden power like strongman Samson of the Biblical times. Boxing great Muhammad Ali used to encourage underdogs by telling them: “You are not as dumb as you look!” Meaning you could be underrating a very superior “underdog” capable of turning tables in the last round.

The first fight between the two undefeated fighters Wilder and Fury had taken place at Staples Centre in Los Angeles on December 1, 2018, in which Fury dominated the fight and looked to be heading to a points win before Wilder knocked him to the canvas in the 12th round only for Fury to miraculously beat the count and climb back to his feet.

Despite many onlookers believing Fury had done enough to win, the fight ended as a controversial split draw with scorecards of 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and one 113-113.

The latest news is that Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum has confirmed a third meeting between Fury and Wilder this summer on July 18 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Wilder had 30 days to call a rematch and Arum, Fury’s US promoter, says he had been formerly notified of the fight by the American.

Wilder’s decision to have a rematch now puts a Fury-Joshua showdown on the back-burner, with the latter set to defend his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles against Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in June.

Now that a third Fury-Wilder encounter is officially on the cards, the question is: Can the two come closer to what Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier did during their three memorable encounters?

As Greg Logan of Newsday would put it, with the possible exception of David v Goliath, the greatest rivalry in the history of individual human combat was the three fight trilogy staged by Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier from 1971-1975.

That perhaps would tell why Ali had a special place for Frazier whenever asked what was his toughest fight in his boxing career. The easiest way to give an answer especially during his visit to Kenya in February 1980 was to look around for a character who resembled Frazier and declare a “fight” to the delight of the many fans.

Ali-Frazier 1 and 111 each were named “Fight of the Year” by The Ring, and though it was a 12-round non-title fight, Ali- Frazier 11 was a vital stepping stone that set up another epic fight, “The Rumble in the Jungle” when Ali became the second man to regain the heavyweight title by knocking out fearsome George Foreman in the eighth round.

Floyd Patterson was the first one to regain his heavyweight title. In 1996, The Ring Magazine recognised Ali-Frazier 111 as the number one fight in boxing history. Ali and the legendary footballer Pele are the only ones to be declared Sportsmen of the Century.

Different eras in human history produce characters whose performances in their respective fields leave people to judge for themselves where to place them.

The heavyweight division in boxing is held in high esteem above other sports. That is why Fury-Wilder 111 is creating a lot of interest.

Whichever way we look at the current status of the heavyweight division, no doubt, the British fighters, Fury and Joshua have brought in new life and excitement by holding all titles on offer.

It remains to be seen how swiftly serious contenders to the throne will come out to bring in more excitement in a division that needs more charisma and charm.