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Who was the last undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing?

We break down the history of heavyweight champions.

Boxing: Fury vs Wilder III Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua will square off on Saturday, August 20, at the Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The two squared off in September 2020, and Usyk defeated Joshua, winning the WBA, IBF, and WBO championships. The pound-for-pound best fighter in the heavyweight division is Tyson Fury, but he’s currently retired. Despite his recent retirement, he still holds the WBC title, which prevents the possibility of there being a unified undisputed heavyweight champion.

Whoever wins Saturday’s fight could challenge Fury for a chance to unify the titles. Even though Fury is retired, a new challenge could spark his interest in returning. The potential fight brings up the possibility of boxing first in about 22 years.

When was the last time there was an undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing? It was Lennox Lewis in November 1999 when he defeated Evander Holyfield to win the WBA, WBC, and IBF heavyweight titles. He was the undisputed champion until April 2000, when he was stripped of his WBA title for agreeing to fight WBC No.1 contender instead of WBA No. 1 contender John Ruiz. There was a clause in the Holyfield/ Lewis rematch contract saying that he had to fight the WBA No.1 contender. The decision went to court, and a judge ruled in favor of Ruiz.

There have been five undisputed heavyweight champions in history. Here’s a list of them and their number of defenses:

  • Mike Tyson - 6 defenses
  • Buster Douglas- 0 defenses
  • Evander Holyfield - 3 defenses
  • Riddick Bowe- 0 defenses
  • Lennox Lewis -0 defense

It’s been 22 years since there has been an undisputed champion, which begs the question when if ever will we see one again?