Thanks to his win over Deontay Wilder, new WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has every right to be called the best heavyweight in the sport.
Tyson Fury once again became a heavyweight boxing champion last night. He retained the lineal heavyweight title, won the WBC and The Ring magazine heavyweight titles — and won the right to be considered the No. 1 heavyweight boxer on the planet.
The battle of two undefeated heavyweight champions saw Fury bring punishment to Deontay Wilder over seven rounds until Wilder’s corner threw in the towel. It’s the most dominant anyone had been against Wilder to this point.
In fact, Fury had been the closest anyone had been to defeating Wilder previously. Fury gets the nod over Wilder in their original December 2018 encounter if not for the two knockdowns scored by Wilder — namely the 12th-round one, which Fury earned a ton of credit for by the boxing masses for getting up from.
And to note: Luis Ortiz had troubled Wilder in their original March 2018 encounter and was unanimously winning on the cards in their rematch back in November but Wilder was able to get out of trouble and finish Ortiz both times.
Of course, Fury and Wilder aren’t the only ones at the top of boxing’s heavyweight scene — there’s also the current unified WBA/IBF/WBO champion Anthony Joshua and the former champion Andy Ruiz Jr.
Unfortunately for them, neither can call himself an undefeated champion. Ruiz pulled off arguably boxing’s biggest upset since 1990’s Mike Tyson vs. James “Buster” Douglas when he scored a seventh-round stoppage of Joshua. But in December, an out-of-shape, overweight and unfocused Ruiz was swept on the scorecards by Joshua in Saudi Arabia. And even then, Ruiz already had a loss on record, dropping a controversial decision to Joseph Parker in a December 2016 fight for the vacant WBO heavyweight title.
But it’s not just about being an undefeated champion. Fury has done something Wilder, Joshua and Ruiz haven’t done — hold all four of the major alphabet boxing heavyweight championships at any point in his career. In fact, by winning the WBC title from Wilder, Fury became just the second boxer in history to accomplish this feat. Riddick Bowe won the WBA, IBF and WBC championships in 1992 and won the WBO title in 1995.
On that note, let’s go back to when Fury did win the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. On Nov. 28, 2015, Fury pulled off another one of heavyweight boxing’s biggest upsets when he bested Wladimir Klitschko in a unanimous decision.
Maybe it wasn’t the most exciting fight in the eyes of some, maybe Joshua pulled off a better defeat of Klitschko about a year-and-a-half later. But when Fury defeated Klitschko, it brought an end to a title run that felt lasted forever, with Klitschko holding at least a portion of the heavyweight crown since 2006. His win had a bigger impact and left a ripple effect on the sport.
And unlike Wilder, Joshua and Ruiz, Fury was never beaten in the ring for his championships. Fury was stripped of the IBF title 10 days after the win thanks to his decision to take Klitschko’s rematch over IBF mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov. That would enable a chain of events that’d lead to Joshua claiming the championship in 2016, but the politics of boxing preventing or causing things is a topic for any given time. But also in 2016, Fury would battle drug addiction and depression in another chain of events that’d lead him to vacate the remaining world titles that October.
Finally, let’s look at the four and their fighting styles and finishes. As stated already, Wilder has all the ability in the world to finish a fight at any time, but most of the fights he’s had since 2018, and certainly this loss, may have placed a lot of question marks around him. Of course, we shouldn’t take anything away from Wilder: he still went unbeaten in 42 straight bouts, still has devastating power and has finished every opponent but Fury (he did knock out Bermane Stiverne the second time around). It’s just natural to have some doubt after someone is knocked from the top.
Think about Joshua; has he recovered everything from the loss to Ruiz? He may have gained redemption, but that loss on American soil, the four knockdowns and all, are still going to be there in the minds of boxing fans. They will still be pointed out when talking about his career and the comparisons of all the boxers at the heavyweight scene. And while Joshua has finishing ability himself, some of his fights — namely the Ruiz rematch, the unification bout with Parker, the title defense vs. Carlos Takam — were generally not exciting, especially with the former two dragging to decisions.
Ruiz’s credibility was shot after how he handled himself in the wake of his title win and showing up overweight and out-of-shape in December. Credit needs to be given — he did score a big upset and was a world champion, his only losses have come in world title bouts, he’s proven he can finish or go the distance and win. But his last fight brought a lot of criticism and now he needs to re-prove he belongs in the conversation.
But then there’s Fury. Most of his wins have come by KO/TKO; he’s finished Wilder, Dereck Chisora and Christian Hammer. He’s gone the distance and had decently sized wins on the scorecards. The Otto Wallin fight in September did bring controversy and cast some doubt on Fury, but all that seemed to be erased and declared a bad night in the wake of his ease against Wilder. And ultimately, the win over Wilder presents an amazing comeback story from the time he was forced to give up his world titles to now. A rise, a fall, a rise again.
All things considered, it’s time to recognize Fury as the best heavyweight in the sport. If you didn’t believe, it might be time to change your mind.