The Future of Heavyweight Boxing lies on the Other Side of the Pond

Dillian Whyte Joe Joyce Tyson Fury

The heavyweight champion of the world was always one of the most acclaimed sportsmen on the planet. They would be the face of the sweet science, the poster boy for what was undoubtedly the most glamorous sport across the globe.

They would be the person who every other fighter would identify with, would want to be like, even if they were plying their trade in town halls 60lbs lighter. But it even went further than that. The heavyweight champion of the world transcended boxing, even sport.

Numerous reasons are perhaps not quite the case at the moment, which we will touch on later, but which is a topic for another day.

What is not, however, is the dearth of heavyweight talent in the US. The sport at the heavyweight level is actually in very good shape, better than it has been for years, even decades.

The issue is that almost all of it is going on on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The lack of anyone coming up over the horizon in the US is desperately worrying. The US was for decades the home of the heavyweight division. Even individual states could lay claim to that honor. Pennsylvania, for example, gave us Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes… and of course, Rocky Balboa.

We can appreciate that everything has changed in that state in many aspects, not only as far as boxing is concerned. For example, you can now play in 2022 poker sites, watch live MLS soccer, and even visit what is probably the world’s only chocolate-themed theme park.

It looks like there will be a long wait before they produce the next heavyweight champion of the world, though.

The Bronze Bomber

There is, of course Deontay Wilder. The Bronze Bomber fought forty times before not getting his hand raised in the controversial draw with Tyson Fury. That was the first of the trilogy of fights with the Englishman, all three of which were thrilling in their own way. If Fury had got the decision that night – as almost everyone outside Wilder’s camp thought he should have – then he would have lost all three times against Fury. He was also very close to losing against Ortiz, perhaps the only other fighter of any pedigree he has on his resume.

And that is often the issue. It is easy to make a boxer’s record look more impressive than it actually is by padding it with men you really should be beating, especially when you possess the frightening power that Wilder does. The list of people Wilder beat to get to the top and then to remain at the top does not read like a who’s who of top heavyweight boxers.

That is not to take anything away from what he achieved. Retaining the title 10 times is something that has not been done many times before and will more than likely not be done many times again. It is just that when history looks back at his career, especially if that look is discerning enough, he will not be placed in the top echelons of the division’s champions.

Anthony Joshua Tyson Fury Oleksandr Usyk

A lack of upcoming talent

The only two US contenders that are in the conversation are guilty of exactly the same thing. Trevor Bryan’s 21 – 0 record looks impressive, but the only name of any note is Bermane Stiverne, who has lost 4 of his last 5 fights. Michael Hunter has faced two fighters of note, drawing with Alexander Povetkin and losing to Oleksandr Usyk.

It is understandable for the promoters to try and engineer a contender, but any hype and false expectation is likely to unravel pretty damn quick when their man is forced to go up a level and face genuine world-class opposition.

On the other side of the pond, it is a very different story. The sport in the UK has never been so vibrant, something that is reflected in the crowds. Title fights regularly fill stadiums, 80,000 plus being sold out in minutes. They also have the depth of talent to feed off that.

Away from Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, you have Dillian Whyte who finally looks set to get his title shot next year. Just behind him are Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois, Hughie Fury and Fabio Wardley. There are many more coming up on their coattails.

In Europe, many people are tipping the Croatian Filip Hrgovic for big things. The big fights no longer need to be staged in the US. There is the competition, market, and demand for them in the UK, which is another sea change. No longer does a fighter feel the need to “break America” in order to justify their career.

Boxing is going through a tough time with the UFC eating into its US fanbase and attracting would-be boxers to its ranks with huge earnings at stake. When boxing has faced difficulties before, it was always the heavyweights that pulled it through into better, less troubled waters.

If it is to do it again, it is looking like that pull will be coming from the other side of the Atlantic, and the US is increasingly in danger of being cast adrift.