Heavyweight division resurfacing with rising stars reviving reputation
Boxing has recaptured the attention of the sporting world this year, thanks mainly to May’s showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, but the heavyweight division is still seeking a revival following former declines in stature.
In a division that used to boast globally acclaimed names such Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, heavyweights have possibly taken a back-seat to the quicker and more exciting battles at welterweight or middleweight, but stars such as Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder have the potential to change that.
Britain’s Olympic Gold medallist Joshua shot to stardom at the London Games in 2012, and has since maintained a perfect professional record of 13-0, triumphing by KO in every outing so far, with his most recent outing seeing a superb second-round stoppage of previously untoppled Kevin Johnson.
The undefeated prospect holds all the attributes capable of becoming a true heavyweight giant, while his American counterpart Wilder is a lesser known, yet more developed and experienced star hoping to build his reputation later in his career (16/1 with Coral to lose next bout).
Wilder is set to contest Eric Molina in his latest ring outing, as ‘the Bronze Bomber’ aims for a victory which could catapult him towards more prestigious fights with bigger names in the division, and the undefeated 29-year-old is a massive odds-on 1/100 to pick up his 34th professional career triumph.
The Alabama-born bruiser is one of the sport’s best-kept secrets, having somehow slipped under the boxing radar, despite 32 of his 33 wins incredibly coming by knock-out. Holding two of the deadliest hands in the sport, Wilder is targeting becoming the main man in his weight category, eventually eclipsing Mayweather as boxing’s star attraction.
“Floyd Mayweather seems to be coming to the end. Boxing needs me to take over. I believe I can be the exciting new face,” declared the unbeaten American.
“There is nothing better than the heavyweights to keep the boom going. The fans love the big men. Historically ours is the sport’s marquee division and it’s great for the game that it is coming back to life.
“It’s also time to bring back the undisputed heavyweight championship to America, where it belongs.”
Wilder’s comments hold plenty of truth, with boxing fans of the past holding the heavyweights in highest regard, but times have changed in recent years, meaning the smaller, more rapid guys are earning the big bout contracts and attracting worldwide audiences.
David Haye caused shockwaves when he impressively overcame Nikolai Valuev in Germany to become WBA world heavyweight champion, but a stuttering defeat to the division’s most clinical puncher Wladimir Klitschko dented the Briton’s applaudable efforts to make a lasting impact.
His fellow countryman Joshua now looks seemingly likely to be the man to step forward and become heavyweight king, whilst boosting the division’s once-esteemed reputation, with colourful characters Tyson Fury and David Price also set to have a say in the near future.
Experienced Wilder wants a piece of Klitschko, and could get his wish providing he topples Molina, but the sought-after Ukrainian holds Joshua as the division’s brightest star, meaning the promising Watford-born dominator could soon see his sensational showings earn an early title shot.
As plenty of attractive bouts lie on the heavyweight horizon, with Haye also calling for an all-British encounter with Joshua, the sport’s, quite literally, heaviest stars are bolstering the reputation of this rejuvenating division.