There was a time when a British heavyweight never got a look in as far as wearing the world heavyweight crown. Much maligned, laughed at, felt sorry for, British heavyweights of the 1930s, ’40’s, ’50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s had it tough. There was the occasional great British heavyweight during these times – Tommy Farr, Henry Cooper and even the talented (if safety-first) Joe Bugner.
But time and again, a British heavyweight would fail, often falling, when trying to lift the richest prize in sports. This changed in the 1990s, when Lennox Lewis came along. And today, things have really changed. As Frank Warren stated when speaking with Sky Sports a little earlier, the UK is where the heavyweight action is today, where the best heavyweights in the world are today.
It would have been utterly unthinkable for the UK to boast one heavyweight king back in any of the decades listed above, let alone two (of course there was only one world champion back then, before the alphabelt gangs set up their tents). Now, today, all four major belts (five if you include the lineal title) are held by two British heavyweights – Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. And, as Warren says, the UK can also boast “the most exciting heavyweight prospect in boxing” in Daniel Dubois.
“We own it,” Warren said of the UK and the current heavyweight division. “We’ve got the best heavyweights in the world and the best young prospect in Dubois. Exciting times, everybody looks to us as far as the heavyweight division is concerned.”
It will prove interesting to see how long British fighters can maintain their stranglehold on the heavyweight titles. Can anyone see Tyson Fury losing, to anyone? If so, you might feel Anthony Joshua is the man for the job, or maybe Dillian Whyte. But if one of these two managed to beat Fury, the WBC (and lineal) title would not leave the UK.
Indeed it could be some time before British boxing loses its dominant grip on something that was once so hopelessly out of reach.