More than anything else, what boxing needs is a true, heavyweight champion. There is no reason we should not have one by the end of 2018.
Anthony Joshua defends the WBA and IBF straps this weekend against Carlos Takam. Deontay Wilder defends the WBC belt on November 4 against Bermane Stiverne–the man he won it from in January 2015.
Expect both Joshua and Wilder to win. And for the good of the sport, the first fight for both men in 2018 should be against each other.
I say for the good of the sport, but it’s also the logical move for both men’s own self interest, if they truly want to etch their names into legend, alongside figures like Ali, Tyson, Louis and Dempsey.
Meanwhile, the one man who has anything like a credible claim on the true Heavyweight Championship, Tyson Fury, has been inactive since capturing his belt in November 2015. He even announced his retirement earlier this year. However, he has since declared he will be back in action in 2018.
Over two years inactive is generally enough to strip a fighter of his previous standing. But historically, champions have been inactive for longer stretches without losing their recognition. Then again, it’s not as if Fury has earned the kind of respect that was enjoyed by the likes of Jack Dempsey or Muhammad Ali.
Fury has talked about coming back in April. In my mind, the perfect first opponent for him would be WBO trinket holder Joseph Parker, who was anything but overwhelming in his defeat of Fury’s younger cousin Hughie earlier this year.
The winners of those two fights would both have pressing claims on the biggest title in professional sports. But it would still remain necessary for them to press that claim against each other.
In a perfect boxing world, this would be what the heavyweight division looks like in 2018. Let’s hope it’s not just so much idle speculation on my part.