By Danny Howard
One of the oldest rules of the business of boxing still runs true today and that is “As goes the Heavyweight champion so goes the sport.”
When Tyson Fury dethroned Wladimir Klitschko last year, Fury ended one of the most lengthy and depressing reigns in the history of the sport. Nothing against Klitschko, but Wladimir’s reign of terror wasn’t just limited to the Heavyweight division, but to casual fans of the sport everywhere.
Fury was boisterous, loud and obnoxious to the point where his animated character made him an attraction. Even more than that, he had just defeated the true Heavyweight champion of the world and he alone held that distinction. However, Fury has come undone physically and mentally leading to multiple postponements for their contractually obligated rematch with the latest episode leaving extreme doubt as to if Fury will ever fight again.
Fury/Klitschko was a dreadful affair at best with its only saving grace was that the old era gave way to the new, and Fury’s win signified that for the first time in well over a decade that the Heavyweight division was open for big business. That business is now closed with the specter of Fury’s indecisiveness hovering over who will eventually be determined as the top man at Heavyweight.
The clear candidates to substitute Fury are Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, two young champions as unproven as they are popular. Joshua and Wilder have been steadily increasing their level of competition as of late, but the two (particularly Wilder) have not been steered in any direction that could hamper their marketability.
The logical next step for either man is to find themselves opposite Klitschko and attempt to seal the deal on his reign for good. While Fury was able to shockingly upset the now 40-year-old ex-champion, it would be an equally surprising upset should either men be able to topple him even at this stage of his career.
When it comes to fighters outside that bubble, established veterans like Alexander Povetkin, Luis Ortiz, David Haye and Bermane Stiverne, their activity has dropped off due to injuries and managerial issues which have stunted their growth as true challengers to the gold. While Haye and Ortiz remain the biggest wild cards of the bunch, they are quickly losing relevance and ground as they twiddle their thumbs waiting for the late-career payday they are angling for.
Even emerging prospects like Jarrell Miller, Gerald Washington and Andy Ruiz have had to lie in wait as the division tries to sort itself out to get their chance to prove themselves among the elite. As the big men at the top of the division continue to stagnate, so too does the ones who would be factors in the months to come.
With rumors raging that Klitschko may in fact face Joshua in November and Wilder is ready to target tougher foes once he recovers from injury, things might pick up in just mere moments. However, the Heavyweight division finds itself in the same state it has been for a long time now and that’s being stuck in the mud waiting for something to happen.
Danny Howard has been all over the place, writing for FightHype, the Yahoo Contributor Network and the Examiner. He also became a legend in his own mind by writing “And Stay Down! Boxing's Worst Comebacks”. Howard doesn't have time to drown in the nega-verse that is social media, but you can find him on Facebook or breathe life into his long dead Twitter @dbbox625 or let him have it directly at Daniel.Howard6@att.net