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What’s Next for the Kingpins of the Heavyweight Division?

Heavyweight boxing is perhaps in the best position it has been in since the glory years over two decades ago. Back then, the protagonists were the likes of Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, and Evander Holyfield, with a young set of Ukrainian brothers name Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko rising through the ranks.

In 2023, we are on the brink of crowning a first undisputed champion since the aforementioned Lewis over 20 years ago. As was the case with The Lion way back when, the platform oddschecker, which compares boxing odds and free offers, also makes a Brit the odds-on favourite to be the undisputed champ. 

As well as that, there are a plethora of contenders all vying for number one contender status. There are heavy hitters of yesteryear trying to make a comeback and there could be a giant Cameroonian former UFC World Heavyweight Champion throwing his name into the mix as well. Indeed, 2023 promises to be an incredible year in the heavyweight division. But what is next for the division’s major players? 

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk – Unification Bout

Following years of failed negotiations, firstly between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, then Tyson Fury and the aforementioned AJ, it appears that we will finally be crowning an Undisputed Heavyweight Champion in 2023. 

The Gypsy King’s American promoter Bob Arum stated before Christmas that a deal between his fighter and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk had been agreed upon. March is being mooted as a possible date and Saudi Arabia is a possible location for the money-spinning unification grudge match. 

Brash Brit Fury is the reigning WBC Heavyweight Champion, a title he claimed when he twice knocked out American Deontay Wilder. 36-year-old Usyk holds the rest of the heavyweight marbles, titles he claimed when he twice outpointed Britain’s Anthony Joshua. 

Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr. – Heavyweight Title Eliminator

Former champions Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr. have been ordered to face off by the WBC, with the winner being named the number one contender for a shot at the famous green belt currently possessed by Fury. Should the Morecambe native and Usyk unify the division in the near future, then the winner of Wilder/Ruiz will fight for the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the World. 

Wilder was the WBC’s former champion. He claimed the title when he outpointed Bermane Stiverne back in 2015 and defended it ten times before dropping the crown to Fury in 2020. Ruiz meanwhile held all the belts currently attached to Oleksandr Usyk. He stunned the world when he knocked out Anthony Joshua to become the new heavyweight king in Madison Square Garden in 2019. He immediately dropped the belts back to AJ in the Saudi Arabia rematch. 

The Destroyer has picked up back-to-back victories since that painful defeat, while the Bronze Bomber scored a first-round knockout of Robert Helenius upon his return last October. 

Anthony Joshua – Tune-up before a rematch with Dillian Whyte 

What’s going on with Anthony Joshua at the moment? Only he and his promoter Eddie Hearn truly know. The pair turned down a shot at Tyson Fury’s heavyweight championship late last year, with the champion eventually settling on a third bout against a game Dereck Chisora. 

Many UK boxing fans will be unable to forgive both AJ and Hearn for their decision, depriving the British public of the one fight they have wanted to see since Fury’s return to the scene back in 2018. 

Hearn has repeatedly stated that he needs to be “careful” when plotting Joshua’s route back to the top. And on that front, he’s not wrong. One more defeat for AJ and his career at the top of the division is all but over. Expect to see him face off with a tomato can at some point in the new year, before a stadium showdown with Dillian Whyte in the summer.