Boxing World Reeling After a Joshua Loss and a Fury Win

Mark DiPietro
Sports Section Editor

In the past, the sport of boxing has been inconsistent in its entertainment factor. The past few years in particular have been lacking on almost all accounts. Aging stars, rising popularity from other sports, and growing concerns of the long-term effects of the sport have heavily hindered growth. Not to mention the most concerning inhibiting factor, a lacking heavyweight division.

The heavyweight division in boxing is amongst the most coveted of all combat sports. It is, by definition, where the biggest and strongest in the sport duke it out. Due to the nature of the sport, this implies that the heavyweight champion owns the most dangerous pair of fists in the world. Under these alluring circumstances, it is no surprise that the most recognizable names like Ali, Tyson, Frazier, Foreman and many more have arisen. But now, a far cry from these titans of sport and culture, boxing struggles to generate the same enthusiasm of years past.

Anthony Joshua losing to Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1st, 2019 (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

Specifically, the past few weeks have landed serious knockout punches to potential drama building in the division. The first came on September 25th when WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua stepped into the ring with former undisputed cruiserweight champ Oleksandr Usyk. Joshua has held prestige in the boxing world for years. It has been widely expected that he is the natural foe to current heavyweight champion and fellow Brit, Tyson Fury. But after Joshua lost in David and Goliath fashion to Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1st, 2019, Fury fight talks were put on hold. But most believed the upset was a fluke for Joshua. After all, who could doubt the 6-foot-6, 240 lbs Adonis? So, when the Ukrainian Usyk was in front of him, the fight was an afterthought for Joshua fans, at most a filler fight until Tyson Fury disposed of Wilder and became available again. As the taller, longer, stronger, and, most importantly, more experienced boxer, it was believed he would take care of business easily. But after a few rounds, it was clear Joshua was having problems. Usyk simply picked Joshua apart with his speed and skill and at the end it was a 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 win for the underdog.

For the second time, Joshua had been handed defeats by opponents believed inferior, and the boxing world doesn’t tolerate that. Though Joshua exercised his clause for a rematch against Usyk, any hope for a fight against Fury died the moment the final bell rang.

The only hope for an exciting heavyweight division was if Fury lost the third bout of his trilogy with Deontay Wilder, set for Saturday, October 9th. By losing the belts, the rivalry between Fury and Wilder would be reignited with each fighter having a win to his name. This would give a glimmer of hope that another competitor would rise in rank and reputation in time for the conclusion. However, Fury took care of business Saturday night as he handed Wilder his second straight loss.

Tyson Fury is the current heavyweight champion with the personality to match (Photo courtesy of CNN)

The most compelling fighter today is indisputably Fury. The “Gypsy King” is bursting with personality and has the skills to back it up. But with Wilder taken care of and Joshua’s career in utter disarray, the aging Fury must be questioning why he would continue, putting his legacy and health at risk for virtually no reward. With a history of mental health issues and extended breaks from the sport, Fury is not afraid to walk away when the sport is not benefiting him in the way he wants it to, which is the worst scenario for promoters.

For now, the sport is at greater risk than ever to losing audience eyes. Boxing’s future is unclear. It will be interesting to see if the trend of deflating drama continues or if another big personality can emerge to save revenue, as countless have in the past.


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