The heavyweight division will be in the spotlight on Saturday, April 23, albeit during the middle of the day. WBC and Ring Magazine champ Tyson Fury will put his titles on the line against Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium in London. The main event is expected to get underway sometime in the 5 p.m. ET hour on the ESPN+ PPV event.
Fury holds only one of the four major recognized heavyweight titles, while Oleksandr Usyk holds the IBF, WBA, and WBO titles. Usyk claimed his titles with an upset win over Anthony Joshua and those two will fight a rematch in July. However, Fury remains the consensus top-ranked heavyweight, even though he holds fewer titles.
Fury is saying he will retire after this fight, which would mean we would be left waiting for an eventual unification bout. Of course, if Fury continued fighting after the Whyte bout, he wouldn’t be the first fighter to go back on a retirement declaration. The world has not seen an undisputed heavyweight champion since 2000, and it would add further pizzazz to arguably the most important boxing division.
The last undisputed heavyweight boxing champion was Lennox Lewis, who reigned from November 13 1999 to April 13, 2000. Lewis was stripped of his WBA title after agreeing to fight WBC mandatory Michael Grant instead of WBA mandatory John Ruiz. Lewis held at least one heavyweight title for all but six months from 1997 to 2003, but that five months stretch was his only as undisputed champ.
The three belt era from 1983 to 2007 featured the last five undisputed heavyweight champs. Prior to Lewis, that group included Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, Buster Douglas, and Mike Tyson. Tyson and Holyfield are the only fighters in that group to make at least one successful defense of the undisputed title.
The four belt era has yet to see an undisputed champ. There have been multiple three-belt holders during that timeframe, but they’ve always been one short of undisputed status. The three-belt champs since 2007 include:
- Wladimir Klitschko: WBA (Super), IBF, WBO — July 2011-November 2015
- Tyson Fury: WBA (Super), IBF, WBO — November-December 2015
- Anthony Joshua: WBA (Super), IBF, WBO — March 2018-June 2019
- Andy Ruiz: WBA (Super), IBF, WBO — June-December 2019
- Anthony Joshua: WBA (Super), IBF, WBO — December 2019-September 2021
- Oleksandr Usyk: WBA (Super), IBF, WBO — September 2021-present