What is on the line?
Throughout the build up to this incredible rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury there has been a constant rhetoric that this fight, will determine who is truly the best heavyweight on the planet. But, what is actually on the line this weekend?
The WBC title is the most coveted version of a world title in boxing. Known as ‘The Green & Gold’ for its striking appearance, it is one of the most recognised world titles belts in the sport, alongside the WBO, WBA & IBF.
However, it takes on even more importance in the heavyweight division as it has been synonymous with some of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen. Originally held by Sonny Liston in 1962, it has since passed through the hands of fighters such as; Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson & Lennox Lewis. It is a belt that has stood the test of time and is truly one of the sport’s most precious commodities and for that reason, Deontay Wilder will be reluctant to surrender it to Tyson Fury.
Since its inception in 1962, the WBC title has been dominated by American fighters. 16 of the champions since then have been from the United States and Deontay Wilder added his name to that list when he won the belt in January 2015, beating Bermane Stiverne by decision. He has since made ten successful defences and is one of the longest serving champions in boxing.
Interestingly, the WBC title is the only recognised world heavyweight title that Tyson Fury has never held. When he defeated Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to become the unified heavyweight champion, he only held the WBA, IBF & WBO.
With one man desperate to keep hold of the title and another desperate to add it to the list of his incredible achievements, ‘The Green & Gold’ is possibly the most important prize up for grabs this weekend.
The Ring Magazine Title
Also, on the line, is the famous Ring Magazine Title. First introduced into the sport of boxing in 1922 by The Ring boxing magazine, the original aim was to award a title to a fighter that was undoubtedly dominant in their respective weight class. The first man to hold the belt was heavyweight Jack Dempsey.
The magazine stopped awarding the title in the early 90’s but made a return in the early 2000’s at which point they introduced a rigid criteria as to which fighters could hold the title. In order to be eligible for the title, fighters had to ranked #1 and #2 in the magazine’s independent rankings. In recent history, the best fighters in every weight division have always held the Ring Magazine Belt and it continues to hold substantial weight in the boxing community.
The title is on the line here this weekend and strengthens the argument about Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury being the two best heavyweights in the world. Fury has held the title before when he beat Klitschko in 2015 but for Wilder it is completely new territory. Should he win it this weekend, it will be another incredible achievement for the ‘The Bronze Bomber.’
The Lineal Heavyweight Championship
The final ‘belt’ on the line this weekend is one that splits opinion in the boxing community. The Lineal Heavyweight Championship is essentially awarded to ‘the man who beat the man’. The belt has no physical representation but has long been recognised in the sport.
The Lineal Heavyweight Championship can only be held by a fighter that holds dominance over a division. Therefore, Fury holds the lineal heavyweight championship since he dethroned a dominant champion in the shape of Wladimir Klitschko.
Although Fury was stripped of his physical belts when he spent time away from the sport, he can never have the lineal championship taken away from him, until he is beaten. For him, it is the last remaining ‘belt’ he has from that famous night in Germany.
If Wilder can beat Fury, he will then become ‘the man who beat the man’ and although there is no physical reward, it will heighten his dominance across a thriving heavyweight division.