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The Heavyweight Division’s Strange, But Not Unsatisfying, 2021

By: Sean Crose

While looking through my articles for Boxing Insider over the past year, I’ve been reminded of how big a deal the potential pairing of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua was. It only made sense that it would be a big deal, frankly. Fury owned the WBC and lineal heavyweight titles…and his fellow Englishman Joshua possessed all the other major titles in the division. In other words, this would have been a fight to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion in years. What’s more, it would have been the first such defining showdown in the era of super sized heavyweights, as well as a death knell to the career futures of all heavyweights under the size of NBA stars.

Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The fight, of course, never happened. Scheduled to go down in the middle east, Joshua-Fury fell through at the last minute. It seemed like a crushing blow to the big guy’s division. Instead of discovering a new undisputed champion, fans would be stuck watching Joshua make easy work of former cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk, while Fury would go on to once again have an easy night at the office against Deontay Wilder. It just seemed so sad. Until it stopped seeming sad. Usyk, by virtue of a boxing masterclass, defeated Joshua, thus walking out of the ring with the titles Joshua had walked into the ring in possession of. Then Fury ended up having to get up off the mat in order to defeat Wilder in an absolute war.

I’ll just come right out and say it – things ended up better, or nearly better, at heavyweight in 2021 than they would have had Joshua and Fury actually gotten it on. For one thing, it looks like Joshua and Usyk are going to square off again in 2022. That’s quite a match when one considers the fact that Joshua has previously shown he can come back from a loss successfully. Will he actually be able to best the walking, talking skill set known as Usyk? That’s a question worth being eager to find the answer to – at least that’s the case for serious fans.

And Fury? Well, he’s still the lineal and WBC champ. He’s also now seen as the division’s big man – no pun intended – not the undisputed champion, but the big man. Couple that with the fact he and Wilder engaged in a legit classic last fall and 2021 appears to have wrapped up quite nicely for the heavyweight division, thank you very much.

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