The coronavirus pandemic has brought the boxing world to a halt. Nearly all events worldwide are off through at least early May and more cancellations and postponements are expected to be announced in the upcoming days.
So for a year-round sport that never has a real offseason, this is a first. During this lull in the action, let’s check in on each boxing division and see where things stand. First up, the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions:
What’s the biggest question you have about this division?
Will we, in a timely fashion, get an undisputed world championship fight between three-belt titlist Anthony Joshua and whoever emerges as the winner of the third fight between world champion Tyson Fury and former titlist Deontay Wilder?
Joshua is due to face mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev on June 20 in London, but that fight is likely going to be postponed. AJ would have to win that fight and then probably handle a second mandatory bout against Oleksandr Usyk after that, assuming Usyk wins an interim fight against Dereck Chisora that is scheduled for May 23. That fight is also headed for a possible postponement.
On the other side of the bracket is Fury-Wilder III, which was supposed to take place July 18 but has been postponed for later in the year. However, the Fury-Wilder III winner and Joshua could meet for the undisputed and lineal crown sometime in the first half of 2021. The fighters, promoters and broadcasters say they are willing to make such a fight, but I will believe it when I see it.
Who is the star? Who is his biggest competitor?
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But the biggest star still remains Joshua, who is the one who can pack massive crowds into open-air stadiums even against second-tier opposition. He and Fury are both from England, but there is no dispute that Joshua is the bigger draw. So put AJ as the biggest star in the division with Fury — with fans on both sides of the pond — No. 2 and Wilder at No. 3.
Joshua’s biggest competitor will be the Fury-Wilder III winner. For the past few years there was a lot of focus on there being a Joshua-Wilder fight, but now a Joshua-Fury fight looms just as huge, especially in their home county of England.
Who is a potential dark horse?
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England’s Lawrence Okolie (14-0, 11 KOs) is the division’s best up-and-comer and could make a lot of noise in the next few years. He’s big (6-foot-5), only 27 and ever improving even if he’s not the most exciting fighter in the division. He is coming off his biggest win, a seventh-round knockout of then-undefeated Yves Ngabu in October to win the European title, and he is in position to challenge for a vacant world title. Okolie probably will face former two-time titlist Krzysztof Glowacki in his next fight, whenever that might be.
What is a fight you need to see next in the division?
The Dorticos-Briedis winner will have established himself as the No. 1 guy in the division, but world titlist Ilunga Makabu, who makes good fights, is No. 3. Ideally, the Dorticos-Briedis winner will meet Makabu to unify their belts even though that is probably a long shot to happen.