The heavyweight year in review: it’s tough at the top

12 months of heavyweight action

As we head into the last month of 2019, it’s fair to say the year has been a busy one in the boxing world. Especially with the ever-changing tide of the heavyweight division. 

Things got really interesting 12 months ago when Tyson Fury came back from his near 3-year lay-off (excluding his two warm-up fights).

‘The Furious One’ came back to hold the reigning undefeated WBC Champion Deontay Wilder to a controversial draw at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on the 1st December 2018. 

After the fight, the media depicted Fury as a fighter reborn. 

He had risen in the 12th round after a punch, seemingly from the Gods, sent him to the canvas; even coming back to win the rest of the round. 

Boxing had a new people’s champion!

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Joshua tastes defeat

On the other side of the USA, 6 months later, the almost unified champion, Anthony Joshua, was set to defend his belts against late replacement Mexican Andy Ruiz Junior. 

Similar to the Fury vs Wilder fight, it didn’t follow the script… Only this time there would be no judges scorecards to save the champion. 

Joshua tasted defeat for the first time in his professional career. 

After suffering four knockdowns during the fight, Joshua was declared unable to continue by the referee in the 7th round.

To the amazement of everyone ringside and watching at home, boxing had a new heavyweight world champion!

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Mid-year uncertainty

Mid-way through the year there was a sense of expectation and uncertainty in the air. 

A rematch between Fury and Wilder was being touted, Ruiz was now the man to beat and Joshua had it all to prove. 

But then, as with most things heaped with expectation, the hype subsided, and fans were left wondering when all the action was going to happen! 

Tyson Fury opted instead to face little known undefeated fighters Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin. 

They held a combined undefeated record of 44-0. But this did nothing to excite fight fans who were reluctant to tune in. 

His encounter with Wallin made for an exciting contest. 

Tyson, the people’s champion, suffered a savage cut above his eye but managed in true Fury style to battle it out to win on points.  

But, his opposition had been no Deontay Wilder. 

Wilder grips on to the title

Similarly, Wilder chose not to hunt down the other big names in the division.

Instead, he ensured the WBC title remained firmly around his waist by dispatching of Joshua’s former victim Dominic Breazeale in a single round back in May. 

Then to state his claim as the best hard puncher ever,  Wilder sensationally KO-ed his old foe Luis Ortiz last weekend. 

Both Joshua and Ruiz have also remained relatively muted since their June 1st dust-up. The media are even speculating that Joshua plans to retire post rematch. While Ruiz is enjoying the high life as Mexico’s first heavyweight world champion.

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Looking to the year ahead

All is not lost, however, and like all good things, the big fights come to those who wait. 

We have been firmly assured that, despite a foray into WWE and an interest in MMA, Tyson Fury has secured a rematch with Deontay Wilder in February 2020! 

The savage cut sustained in the Wallin fight has had time to heal and Fury’s focus is very much on retrieving the elusive WBC title. 

Since their last contest, Wilder has seemingly grown in stature and Fury in media profile so we can only expect fireworks in the build-up to fight night. 

Next weekend, in Saudi Arabia, we will know for sure if Andy Ruiz Jnr. is the real deal. 

If Ruiz can beat Joshua for a second time, then it paves the way for a showdown with the Fury-Wilder winner. 

But, if Anthony Joshua reclaims the title, then no doubt his focus will once again be on unifying the heavyweight division and moving as far away from Ruiz as possible. 

In a year of peaks and troughs, we are very much reaching a peak. 

I am very excited to see what next weekend brings and finding out who will secure the first piece of the unification puzzle. 

My prediction? 

Ruiz by emphatic KO.


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