Roy Jones Jr. and Lennox Lewis represent two of the best boxers of the 1990s. Two entirely undisputed legends of a prime time for the sport.
In the 2020s, it’s become all about being four-belt undisputed. Terence Crawford, Oleskandr Usyk, and others have done it to considerable praise.
However, since the World Boxing Organization overtook the International Boxing Organization during the early 2000s, the whole game has changed.
Anyone who unified four belts before that time, even Jones Jr. and Lewis, do not get considered undisputed by some in the modern era.
It’s become a crazy situation. Especially when you consider that Jones held the WBC, IBF, and WBA crowns, alongside the new defunct or devalued IBA, WBF, and IBO straps.
Jones was a king with all the belts any fighter could have. But as the WBO were not involved back then, are you telling me he wasn’t undisputed?
If you are, that’s a joke.
Stating there have only been six four-belt undisputed champions ever from 2004 onwards is frankly a ludicrous statement. Back in the day, the IBO was firmly considered a bonafide belt.
If anything, the IBO and WBO were both classed at the same level during the 1990s when Joe Calzaghe and Prince Naseem Hamed held the latter strap.
Even though eventually overtaken by the WBO, the IBO belt got held by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao during the 2000s. Plus, Wladimir Klitschko, Gennadiy Golovkin and Anthony Joshua during the past decade.
Lennox Lewis held four crowns in 1999 when defeating Evander Holyfield. That’s a certified undisputed feat one hundred percent.
Despite this, Josh Taylor gets called ‘the first-ever British undisputed champion’ to head-scratching from those who know how it went down.
We all know that if you were a three-belt ruler during the 1980s, like Mike Tyson, you got considered undisputed as the IBF began to get a foothold. So why the discrepancy from the late 1980s when the IBO hit the scene until now?
The IBO was the fourth sanctioning body for those fifteen years between 1988 and 2003. This fact is common knowledge, and you only have to look at their champions’ roll of honor to know this.
ROY JONES JR & LENNOX LEWIS
Jones Jr. and Lewis would certainly testify to that. But even if the IBO doesn’t get considered part of the achievement, you can’t say either of the legends were not undisputed either. You can’t simply retract any champion before 2004 from being undisputed.
They were, so there’s no way Taylor can be the UK’s first. Or similarly, Bernard Hopkins was the first American, followed by Jermain Taylor and Crawford. It’s disrespectful Jones just because the WBO belt didn’t exist.
Roy Jones Jr. won every other belt on offer at that time. He’s about as undisputed as anyone could ever get.
The narrative needs to alter that all past champions cannot get considered fully unified because they didn’t win the WBO title.
The reconsideration reeks of new-era millennial entitlement and has to stop now to preserve the legacies of the greats who were undisputed during their respective era.
The views expressed in this article are opinions of Phil Jay.
Phil Jay – Editor of World Boxing News since 2010 with over one billion views. Follow WBN on Twitter @WorldBoxingNews.