Twenty years ago yesterday, heavyweight great Lennox Lewis defeated fellow legend Evander Holyfield (in a return fight, the two boxing THAT draw in March of 1999) to become the undisputed heavyweight king. There has not been an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since. And Lewis, some 16 years retired, is worried the sport’s premiere weight class faces “insignificance” if the best do not fight the best.
Lewis, taking to social media, said that, the way things are shaping up he doesn’t see an undisputed heavyweight champion in 2020.
“It shouldn’t be another 20 years before boxing has an undisputed heavyweight champion,” Lewis wrote. “British heavies have brought excitement back to the division, and just as I said before, we need the best fighting the best. If this division doesn’t get on that track it faces the same fate that it’s been fighting to shake off….insignificance. In a division where it’s very likely that on any given night any of the top fighters can beat each other, it seems the only way to get to undisputed is if there is no other route fighters can take but to face each other.
“With rematch clauses, sanctioning body politics, and without just the sheer will to make it happen by all involved, undisputed will remain just a dream in the minds of boxing fans around the world.”
Strong words. But is Lewis right? In an ideal world, the winner of the upcoming Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua rematch would then fight Deontay Wilder, the winner of that to then fight Tyson Fury. It sounds simple, but no-one is holding their breath; least of all Lennox. Has the sport, the heavyweight division in particular, changed that much since when Lewis was doing all he could to get the fights that would make him undisputed champ? It has.
Which of the top heavyweights of today really want to become undisputed champion and are willing to put it all on the line in an effort to do so? This is the question. Have today’s heavyweights got the same mindset as Lewis and the other greats that came before them had?
Who of the top four heavyweights: Ruiz, Joshua, Wilder, Fury, has the best shot at becoming undisputed champ? Is either man willing to do all he can to make it happen?