It’s an oft-stated and true statement: As the heavyweight division goes, so goes boxing. Hardcore fans can get behind fighters of all sizes. The purists will often appreciate the elevated craft of a featherweight over the slugging power of a big man.
But for the casual fans–the ones who drive mainstream interest, it’s heavyweight or bust. The entire world stops to pay attention to the larger-than-life spectacle of two great big men throwing down. The greatest eras in boxing history have all been marked by the reign of an iconic heavyweight champ.
So for boxing to return to anything like its glory days, it needs another banner carrier at heavyweight.
There is no doubt that the division is more exciting than it has been in years right now. Now is the time for a new King to emerge.
If you are an American fan, you probably want Deontay Wilder to fill that role. He took a major, much-needed step forward earlier this month when he knocked out Luis Ortiz. Ortiz was a big, highly skilled opponent. Wilder was forced to show grit–hanging on and recovering after getting rocked badly.
It made me upgrade my opinion of the Alabama slugger. I already knew he could punch. Now I know that he also has a champion’s heart.
Still, when I look to the future of the division, I just can’t see anybody but England’s Anthony Joshua standing a top the mountain.
He still has to beat Joseph Parker this weekend. The undefeated, WBO belt holder cannot be overlooked. But I feel little angst over picking Joshua to knock Parker out inside of 10 rounds.
If he does that, only one fight at heavyweight should be acceptable to fans: Wilder vs. Ortiz, for all the belts. It’s the fight that the sport deserves.