For a population of around 65million (tens of millions less than America) the UK boxing scene currently boasts a truly exceptional number of world champions – 13, in fact. America currently has just nine reigning world champions. Quite amazing, really. The success British fighters have been enjoying over the past year or so just keeps on growing. With Sunday’s fantastic, underdog win by Tony Bellew in capturing the WBC cruiserweight title, British boxing now boasts a world champion in no less than ten weight divisions.
Here are the current world champs the UK has to proudly offer:
Tyson Fury, linear heavyweight king
Anthony Joshua, IBF heavyweight boss
Tony Bellew, WBC cruiserweight ruler
James DeGale, IBF super-middleweight champ
Billy Joe Saunders, WBO middleweight champ
Liam Smith, WBO junior-middleweight ruler
Kell Brook, IBF welterweight king
Ricky Burns, WBA super-lightweight champion
Anthony Crolla, WBA lightweight boss
Terry Flanagan, WBO lightweight ruler
Lee Selby, IBF featherweight champ
Jamie McDonnell, WBA bantamweight king
Lee Haskins, IBF bantamweight ruler
Now that’s an impressive list of talent. Who’s the best of the impressive bunch? That’s a tough one, as tough a task to answer as the rest of the world’s fighters have when it comes to taking the belts off these world champions!
Fury arguably faces the toughest next defence of the bunch, with his July return with Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua looks set to reign for the remainder of this year at least. Bellew might have a tough job holding onto his belt if he has to face Champ in recess Grigory Drizd next (or maybe even fellow Brit David Haye!). DeGale and Saunders await big fights. Brook is close to landing a unification bout with Jessie Vargas (60/40 in favour of Brook?). Burns wants, and deserves a big payday or two (and may face Adrien Broner next in what looks like a tough task). Crolla keeps on getting better and better and a big fight with Jorge Linares would be a great fight.
Flanagan and Selby, the least known of the 13 champs but no less talented, are hungry for big fights also. While McDonnell and Haskins are two of the most underrated of all the British champions. McDonnell wants to test his mettle against the sublime skills of Guillermo Rigondeaux, while Haskins is set to take a return fight with warrior (and fellow Brit) Stuey Hall.
Who knows, 2017 could see British boxing achieve even more greatness. At the very least, 7 or eight of the current champions these shores have to offer look like remaining as champions into next year.