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Home » WBC heavyweight champs: Wilder, Fury oddly trail Norton, Liston

WBC heavyweight champs: Wilder, Fury oddly trail Norton, Liston

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World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and his predecessor Deontay Wilder currently sit outside the all-time WBC Top 10 list.

Before every world title defense, the WBC reveals its honor roll of the most significant green and gold belt holders in history.

According to the latest WBC statistics released before Fury faced Derek Chisora at Wembley, Wilder and Fury don’t feature in the ten best WBC titleholders.

Now, if it’s down to career achievements, the argument could rumble on why Fury and Wilder cannot overhaul Ken Norton in the number ten spot.

However, if the WBC chooses its list based on bouts in possession of the WBC championship, Fury and Wilder should not be behind 1970s great Norton.

WBC heavyweight list

As the seventh WBC heavyweight champion in history, as calculated by Luis Medina, Norton reigned briefly from 1977 to 1978.

Before becoming champion, Norton lost WBC title challenges against George Foreman in 1974 and Muhammad Ali in 1976.

But on title reign alone, it could be a strange one if Norton isn’t knocked off the list permanently the next time around.

Norton beat Jimmy Young in November 1977 in an eliminator for the WBC belt. In today’s terms, it would be something of an interim move.

And once Muhammad Ali decided to face Leon Spinks instead of mandatory Norton, the WBC gave the Jacksonville legend the full version.

But here’s where the WBC list comes unstuck. Norton never actually made a successful defense of the title, coupled with never winning it inside the ring.

So, taking away the paper decision made by the WBC, there’s a solid argument that Norton was never really the champion in the first place.

Once he was, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d have made at least one successful defense to be considered the tenth-best WBC heavyweight champion.

Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury’s title defenses

For their part in the new era, Fury has made three, and Wilder made ten. Therefore, both have better claims to the top ten than Norton.

Fury’s three successful defenses of the coveted strap began in 2020, having dethroned long-reigning ruler Deontay Wilder in a rematch.

“The Gypsy King” defeated Wilder in a second return before mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte and a voluntary against hand-picked Derek Chisora.

Despite longer runs, Wilder and Fury haven’t done enough to overhaul Norton for the number ten spot.

There’s even a solid case for Wilder and Fury being at least nine and ten on the roll call. Sonny Liston, ranked nine, took the title when the WBC was founded in 1963 by default.

He also never defended it as Muhammad Ali dethroned Liston when the green and gold was first on the line in 1964.

Wilder and Fury would be mixing in good company from then on, and the list could be debated.

But if the WBC bases its criteria on what you do when you are the champion, Wilder and Fury must be considered for a change in 2023.

The only other reason for the omission of Wilder and Fury would be that the WBC won’t rank anybody in the top ten until they retire.

WBN looked into this, and due to Roman Gonzalez being active and ranked on the equivalent list at super-flyweight, this is not the case.

The top tens are updated in real-time, meaning nothing is stopping the WBC from adding Wilder and Fury this year.

No disrespect to Norton and Liston, both are all-time greats despite very short reigns as WBC champions.


1. Sonny Liston (US) 1963 – 1964

2. Muhammad Ali (US) 1964 – 1967

3. Joe Frazier (US) 1968 – 1973

4. George Foreman (US) 1973 – 1974

5. Muhammad Ali (US) * 1974 – 1978

6. Leon Spinks (US) 1978

7. Ken Norton (US) 1977 – 1978

8. Larry Holmes (US) 1978 – 1983

9. Tim Witherspoon (US) 1984

10. Pinklon Thomas (US) 1984 – 1985

11. Trevor Berbick (Can) 1986

12. Mike Tyson (US) 1986 – 1990

13. James Douglas (US) 1990

14. Evander Holyfield (US) 1990 – 1992

15. Riddick Bowe (US) 1992

16. Lennox Lewis (GB) 1993 – 1994

17. Oliver McCall (US) 1994 – 1995

18. Frank Bruno (GB) 1995 – 1996

19. Mike Tyson (US) * 1996

20. Lennox Lewis (GB) * 1997 – 2001

21. Hasim Rahman (US) 2001

22. Lennox Lewis (GB) * 2001 – 2003

23. Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine) 2004

24. Hasim Rahman (US) * 2005 – 2006

25. Oleg Maskaev (Kazakhstan) 2006 – 2008

26. Samuel Peter (Nigeria) Interim 2007 – 2008

27. Vitali Klitschko (Ukraine)* 2008 – 2014

28. Bermane Stiverne (Haiti-US) 2014 – 2015

29. Deontay Wilder (US) 2015 – 2020

30. Tyson Fury (GB) 2020 –

* Regained title

All-time Top 10 WBC heavyweight champions

1. Muhammad Ali (US)

2. Mike Tyson (US)

3. Lennox Lewis (GB)

4. Larry Holmes (US)

5. Evander Holyfield (US)

6. George Foreman (US)

7. Joe Frazier (US)

8. Vitaly Klitschko (Ukraine)

9. Sonny Liston (US)

10. Ken Norton (US)

Deontay Wilder

Tyson Fury

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of experienced boxing writer Phil Jay. Twitter @PhilJWBN. Follow WBN: Facebook, Insta, Twitter