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The Four Belt Era: the state of the heavyweight division

The heavyweight division is stacked with talent and top-level fighters. Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz Jr. and even Joe Joyce are worth mentioning in this group. These six men have a combined record of 170-7-2, with 137 wins by knockout. Six out of the seven losses and both of the draws have come against each other.

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Graphic Artist

With all six of these heavyweights poised for big fights, here is how 2023 might look.

Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk

Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) and Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs) are the two best heavyweights on the planet. Between the two, they hold all four belts in the division. Fury is the WBC champion, while Usyk is the unified WBO, WBA, and IBF champion.

This will arguably be the biggest fight in the sport, as it could crown an undisputed champion in boxing’s most exciting division. The best part about this fight? It’s likely to happen next. Both men want to fight each other. Usyk was ringside at Fury’s most recent bout against Derek Chisora (33-13, 23 KOs). After Fury routinely defeated Chisora, the two stood face to face, with Fury yelling in Usyk’s face as Usyk stood there silent, smiling.

It looks like fans can expect to see this fight in the second quarter of 2023. What’s keeping this fight from happening earlier is the elbow surgery Fury will soon undergo. He told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel, “I’ve got some hand problems and I’ve gotta maybe have some surgery on me elbow. But after that, I’m ready for anybody.”

Deontay Wilder vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.

A fight between Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) and Ruiz Jr. (35-2, 22 KOs) was ordered by the WBC as a final eliminator for Fury’s title. Even though it was ordered, this is still a good next fight for the two after they both secured wins.

Initial plans for this fight originally arose in 2019 when both fighters were champions in an effort to unify the division. Wilder was the WBC champion, and Ruiz was the unified WBO, WBA, and IBF champion. It ultimately didn’t happen after Ruiz lost his belts in an immediate rematch with Anthony Joshua.

The winner of this fight gets one step closer to winning the WBC title and sets up a fight with Fury, or whoever the WBC champion is at that time. If Wilder wins, it would potentially be his fourth fight with Fury, who said he would be open to a fourth fight. If Ruiz wins, it would be his first meeting with Fury.

Anthony Joshua vs. Dillian Whyte II

Both Joshua (24-3, 22 KOs) and Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs) are on a rough stretch. Joshua has lost three out of his last five, including losing two in a row to Usyk. Whyte’s been knocked out in two of his last four. In his most recent performance, he beat Jermaine Franklin (21-1, 14 KOs) — a small, untested heavyweight — by majority decision.

The two fought back in 2015 when they were both undefeated contenders, with Joshua winning by knockout. There is good history here as they were extremely tense the first time around.

For Joshua, this is a very winnable fight, as Whyte has shown his age along with his delicate chin in his recent matches. If Joshua can knock out Whyte again, he could gain some positive momentum for the first time in several years.

If Joshua defeats Whyte, a fight with Wilder could be an option. Once considered the scariest heavyweights on the planet, both with fight-ending power, a fight between the two would be massive.

Joe Joyce vs. Fury/Usyk winner

Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) is the top contender in the heavyweight division. In his most recent performance, he became the first fighter to stop Joseph Parker (30-3, 21 KOs), who has been competitive in the heavyweight division for some time now.

Even though Joyce only has fifteen professional fights and has yet to get a title shot, he isn’t young at 37 years old. His prime years are running out. That’s why he should face the winner of the fight for undisputed. Tyson Fury welcomes a fight with Joyce, saying that if he doesn’t fight Usyk next, he wants to fight Joyce.

The most exciting division is on track for a great 2023, with the potential for history to be made.

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