From Dempsey to Usyk: Boxing’s undisputed world heavyweight champions

By Daily Sports Nigeria on May 20, 2024

Some of boxing’s greatest ever have been undisputed heavyweight champions during their careers.

Iconic fighters like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson achieved the feat while Sonny Liston, George Foreman and Evander Holyfield also held all the titles at once.

In boxing, an undisputed world champion is someone who wins all of the four major world title belts in their division – WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO.

Fury had the WBC belt while Usyk held the WBA, IBF and WBO titles before both fighters clashed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

After both boxers went the distance, Usyk won via split decision.

The scorecards gave 115-112 and 114-113 decisions in favour of the Ukrainian, with a third judge scoring it 114-113 to Fury.

Usyk took the WBC belt from Fury, after his triumph, to add to his WBA, WBO and IBF collection.

The 37-year-old remains unbeaten and is the first boxer in 25 years to stand tall as the sport’s sole heavyweight world champion.

Who was first undisputed heavyweight champion?

Jack Dempsey was the first official heavyweight world champion. The hard-hitting and aggressive Dempsey became the first official world champion at the start of 1921 when the American National Boxing Association and the powerful New York State Athletic Commission agreed to recognise a world champion.

The “Manassa Mauler”, with a right nicknamed “Iron Mike” and a left hook dubbed “Big Bertha” had become ‘lineal’ world champion, in boxing parlance “Beating The Man to become The Man” when he bludgeoned Jess Willard in 1919. But the newly-minted official status helped turn his first sanctioned defence, against Frenchman Georges Carpentier, into the first “million-dollar fight”. He defended his title twice more, before losing twice to Gene Tunney and retiring.

Who was last undisputed heavyweight champion?

The last man to hold all the belts in the division was Fury’s British compatriot Lennox Lewis, when he beat Evander Holyfield to add his WBA and IBF titles to the WBC belt before what is now known as the ‘four-belt era’ with the WBO being recognised from 2004.

The world heavyweight title had been fractured for seven years when Lewis faced off against Evander Holyfield in March 1999.

When the judges’ scores of 115-113 for Holyfield, 116-113 for Lewis and 115-115 were announced, one of boxing’s greatest miscarriages of justice was perceived to have taken place.

A rematch was immediately sanctioned, with the second bout also going the distance eight months later in November.

However, this time Lewis was awarded the victory via unanimous decision after scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 117-111.

Within a year Lewis was stripped of his WBA title for opting to face Michael Grant over the organisation’s number one contender John Ruiz and the belts have been scattered ever since.

Twenty-five boxers have held all of the heavyweight titles at once and the first ever undisputed heavyweight champion was Jack Dempsey in 1922.

Dempsey’s reign lasted four years before Gene Tunney took the title and it changed hands many times over the next two decades.

Joe Louis is the boxer who has been the undisputed heavyweight champion for the longest, sitting at the top of the sport for 12 years.

Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, Buster Douglas, Liston, Foreman, Tyson and Ali are all some huge names who have also held all the available titles.






Source Punch Ng

Posted May 20, 2024


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