How Mixed-up Are the Heavyweight Champions?
By: Ken Hissner
Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko, 64-4 (53), of the UKR, lost for the first time in eleven years, to Tyson Fury, 25-0 (18), in November of 2015 losing his three titles. Fury retired in 2016 making all the titles vacant. Klitschko for some reason is only ranked by the WBA and WBO. The 40 year-old former champion is scheduled to fight IBF champion Anthony Joshua, 18-0 (18), of the UK, on April 29th in London. Not only is Joshua’s IBF title on the line but so is WBA Super World title. Klitschko is not ranked by the IBF but is No. 2 in the WBA and No. 3 by the WBO.
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, 37-0 (36), of ALA, holds the WBC title. After winning the title two years ago he has made four title defenses and not one with one of the top four contenders. At this time he awaits the winner of the former WBA World champion Alexander “Russian Vityaz” Povetkin, 31-1 (23), of Russia, and the former WBC champion and No. 2 contender Bermane Stivern, 25-2-1 (21), a Haitian out of Las Vegas, who lost to Wilder being the new champions only decision win in 37 fights. Povetkin has failed two of three drug tests but that didn’t stop the WBC from approving Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola who failed a drug test, to challenge Wilder in the champion’s last fight in July. The elimination match is on hold at this time. Povetkin has been the No. 1 contender for some time and it seems has been avoided by Wilder. Wilder’s next opponent is No. 12 Andrew Wawrzyk, 31-1 (19), of Poland whose only loss is to Povetkin. The site is in Birmingham, AL, where Wilder is from on February 25th.
The vacant WBO title was won by Joe Parker, 21-0 (18), of New Zealand, winning a majority decision over Andy Ruiz, Jr., in December. The former champion Ruslan “White Tyson” Chagaev, 34-3-1 (21), of UZB, now out of GER, lost this title to Australian Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne, 24-0 (21), in March of 2016. Browne failed his drug test and the title was declared vacant. No decision for the bout to be reversed or Chagaev retaining his title at this time. Both Browne and Chagaev have been dropped from the ratings. Former WBA champion David “Haymaker” Haye, 28-2 (26), of the UK, is the No. 1 contender and has a match scheduled in March against newly crowned WBC Cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew, 28-2-1 (18), who is on a eight fight winning streak since moving up to cruiserweight.
The WBA title is vacant and this writer is awaiting an answer from the WBA to who will be fighting for that title. Rumors are No. 4 former WBO champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, 60-6-1 (53), of Brooklyn, who came back in 2014 after a three and a half lay-off, and has won nine straight over non-contenders. The opponent mentioned is former WBC champion Oliver “The Atomic Bull” McCall, 57-14 (37), of VA, who is ranked No. 5. This writer questioned why McCall who hasn’t fought in two years can even still be in the ratings. Both Briggs and McCall are 45.
How the WBA would overlook No. 1 contender and former interim WBA champion Louis “King Kong” Ortiz, 27-0 (23), a Cuban out of Miami, and the No. 3 contender Alexander “The Great” Ustinov, 33-1 (24), a Russian out of Belarus, makes no sense. Though Ustinov didn’t fight in 2016 he has been able to hold that high ranking. Since No. 2 contender Klitschko chose to fight for the IBF title he is not being considered.
There are once again too many champions among the four organizations. Boxing does not need four boxers being called “the world heavyweight champion!”