The heavyweight division of pro boxing has been dominated in recent years by three men: Tyson Fury, fellow British fighter Anthony Joshua and US pugilist Deontay Wilder. There can be no doubt the post-Wladimir Klitschko era belongs to this trio and, come the end of 2020, we could finally have an undisputed world heavyweight champion. Much depends on the collective will of those involved in boxing to give the fans the superfight they want.
What happens then, though? Fury is the WBC champ but has indicated he may only have two more fights left in his career before hanging up his gloves and stepping away from the ring.
The heavyweight division needs new stars looking to the long-term. Two names from Europe stand out as future challengers and blue-chip prospects.
Every reason to think former cruiserweight king Usyk can step up
Oleksandr Usyk won heavyweight gold as an amateur at the London Olympics in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since turning pro the following year. The Ukrainian dominated at cruiserweight, winning the WBO on just his tenth fight in the paid ranks.
After a couple more defenses, including against Michael Hunter, Usyk entered the World Boxing Super Series and emerged as undisputed champion at cruiserweight. All three bouts in that competition saw him fight outside of his native Ukraine in Germany, then Latvia and in the Olympic Stadium of Russian capital Moscow.
A high-profile bout with British boxer Tony Bellew with all the gold on the line followed and then Usyk vacated his belts after announcing he would be stepping back up to heavyweight. Things haven’t entirely gone to plan since with nagging injuries, opponents failing drug tests and fights being delayed, but it doesn’t change the fact he is unbeaten and seen as a potential major force in this weight category.
Usyk’s next scheduled fight is against Dereck Chisora. This makes for a stern test, but he is a well-fancied favorite in the latest boxing betting on the bout with bet365 in light of his undefeated streak. The WBO even has Usyk as their number one contender to Joshua.
Dubois another off British production line
The UK seems to produce more than its fair share of heavyweights, and the phrase next big thing very much applies to Daniel Dubois. He’s only 22, but has won all 14 pro fights and knocked all but one opponent out so far.
Dubois, nicknamed Dynamite or Triple D, is already the British and Commonwealth heavyweight champ. He is set to battle fellow British boxer Joe Joyce for the vacant European title this summer and a red-hot favorite to add that to his collection.
If he does come through that battle as expected, then a future world championship opportunity can’t be far off in Dubois’s future. The upward trajectory he’s on isn’t too different from Joshua’s early pro career either.
Comparisons are always easily and sometimes hastily made in sport but, just as Usyk is Ukraine’s best boxing export since the Klitschko brothers, much the same applies to Dubois. He has to keep delivering with his powerful punches to a be a worthy long-term successor to Fury and Joshua, though.