Once, more top heavy than Alice Eve, the heavyweight division is starting to develop some depth of talent that has also awakened an interest in the glamour division long bereft of such. Seemingly forever dominated by the name Klitschko, whether it be Vitali or Wladimir, there are new names and personalities appearing amongst the giants that don’t remind us of a robot manufacturer. One island nation known for their infatuation with the division, is leading the way developing excitement and talent north of 14 stone. By now you know I’m talking about the braggadocios Brits.
With the news of verbal sparring partners Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte agreeing to fight later this year, coupled with Tyson Fury battling the aforementioned Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight crown; it gives credence to the sentiment that the future and the present state of the division could fly under the Union Jack.
I can’t remember the last time there was this much intrigue in a bout between two heavyweight prospects. Joshua and Whyte have a short but memorable amateur history, have been talking about one another in various media, and both are talented guys that no matter who wins, look to have bright careers ahead of themselves.
Dillian “The Villain” Whyte (14-0 11Kos) has taken the road not travelled to his current position. A former kickboxer, his amateur career was cut short due to a dispute over his eligibility as a result of his battling Rockettes days. The Whyte camp has boasted that Anthony Joshua was the biggest winner because without Dillian to stand in his way, Anthony was able to claim the ABA national championship and the Gold Medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Clearly there is no way to quantify Whyte’s absence regarding to Joshua’s amateur career, but Whyte has an absence of his own to address. Embodying his Villain moniker, Dillian was suspended two years as a result of “unknowingly” ingesting a banned substance in November of 2012. The time away from the ring wasn’t wasted, as he was a very active participant in the training camps of both Klitschko brothers and Tyson Fury.
Anthony Joshua (13-0 13Kos) has been pegged as the future ruler of all things heavyweight. So far, there is nothing to suggest otherwise. Granted, we haven’t seen his chin touched, so at this point we’re not sure it’s structural integrity, but his high powered offense has stymied any opponent’s ability to ask that question. Only the second Brit to win Olympic gold at super heavyweight, he has exceeded expectations early on in his career.
England’s first super heavyweight gold medalist Audley Harrison was an epic bust in the pro ranks. Harrison personified his era’s unfulfilled potential. Joshua might have won his gold controversially; he has viciously battered his opponents with no headgear, leaving no doubt who was the better fighter. Tyson might be the man slated to challenge Wladimir for the heavyweight crown, its Anthony, who in the public’s mind, is the leader of this generation of young heavyweights.
Speaking of Klitschko’s next victim, Tyson Fury (24-0 18Kos) is the most accomplished fighter out of this bunch in the professional setting. There is something to be said of Great Britain’s amateur program, for Fury was a standout for both Ireland and England. He represented neither at the Olympic Games (ousted in Ireland via protest, and David Price was chosen ahead of him for England), Fury turned pro as a result of not making the 2008 Beijing Games. I admit, I thought he had to improve just to be considered crude when he began his career. I loved all the memes that were made when he uppercutted himself. I too thought that John McDermott won their first bout.
However, Tyson comes from a family of boxers, talented ones too. He’s grown (not literally, though he is 6’9”) as a fighter. He’s in better shape; his game is starting to back up his trash talk and he makes his upcoming bout with Wladimir an intriguing one. Fury has converted me, though I might have Klitschko winning by decapitation, I want to see more of Tyson down the road and believe he figures to play a prominent role in the division for the next decade (unless Wlad actually decapitates him, then no, that’s not possible).
The man who was once the British ambassador at the heavyweight round table, David Price (19-2 16Kos) is the oldest member of this contingent, but there is a lot left physically in him. This sounds redundant, but Price was another stellar British amateur culminating with a Bronze Medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. There are some indications that David might not be the man to climb the mountain and achieve immortality or whatever people do at the top. Tony Thompson has stopped him twice (once physicality, once mentally), but Tony is a really good fighter who still is a top heavyweight contender though he is 43 years old. Price’s chin is a bit suspect as well, and his stamina is a little dodgy, it takes a lot of calories (energy) to keep all that muscle moving. With all that said, he still throws wrecking balls around that sends fight fans cheering with glee when they land on target. He crushed Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton and has a fight with Erkan Teper (14-0 9Kos) next weekend that will definitively tell us where he stands, a gatekeeper or a contender. His talent is undeniable, but does he have what it takes mentally to compete at the highest level?
This is by far the most physically gifted collection of young (yes I know Price is 32 and only 2 years younger than David Haye) British heavyweights in my lifetime. The mid and late 80s had Lennox Lewis, Gary Mason, Frank Bruno, and Henry Akinwande. All of them had different forms of success, obviously Lewis becoming an all-time great makes this bunch the best. Right now I rate Anthony Joshua as the best of these young guys and until I see how he handles adversity, he reminds me of Frank Bruno, there is nothing wrong with that. The talent is clearly there with this group, but can they convert that talent into prolonged success is what we have to wait and see.
Fortunate for the division that these young men are coming along when they are. The American heavyweight landscape is a bit bare. Deontay Wilder (29) is the top young Yank now, but he only has Bryant Jennings (30) and Charles Martin (29) as guys who are relatively young that have futures as contenders in this weight class. There are a few others scattered about the globe, but the heaviest concentration lies in Anglie.
Before the name of Klitschko reigned supreme in the land of giants, there was the greatest of all big Brits, can one of these young men emulate Lewis, can they claim a second British heavyweight champion? Tyson Fury gets the first crack at doing so, but I suspect that his won’t be the last. At the very least any future champion of the heavyweights will have to conquer England to be considered King.