Sports

The heavyweight lineal champions: Tyson Fury and the 37 others who preceded him

Tyson Fury has accomplished a staggering amount during his 35 pro-fight career, enough to cement himself among the all-time greats. The heavyweight championship division Fury rules over today is part of perhaps the most-storied lineage in all of sports, one that dates back to 1885.

That’s when John L. Sullivan, once the bare-knuckle champion, became boxing’s first-ever heavyweight champion under the Marquess of Queensberry rules. He held that distinction until his landmark fight with James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett in 1892. Following Corbett’s 21st-round KO victory in New Orleans, the championship lineage that extends to today was established. As pro-wrestling legend Ric Flair says, “To be the man, you have to beat the man.”

Now more than ever, with four titles in each weight class, the lineal championship helps to identify who is “the man.” This Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Fury defends the lineal championship against Oleksandr Usyk in boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight championship fight since Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield in 1999 (11 a.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV).

Throughout 139 years of heavyweight boxing history, just 38 men have had the honor of calling themselves the lineal champion in the sport’s glamor division, the title that bestows each individual “baddest-man-on-the-planet” status. Four of those fighters were two-time lineal champions — Floyd Patterson, George Foreman, Holyfield and Lewis — and only one won the title three times: Muhammad Ali.

Even former cruiserweight lineal champ Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs), 37, of Ukraine, who defeated Anthony Joshua twice and currently holds three of the four heavyweight titles, nor Joshua, despite his lengthy run as unified champion, have ever possessed the heavyweight lineal championship. Though lineages can always be debated.

After Fury upset Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to win the lineal heavyweight championship, he didn’t fight for another two-and-a-half years as he battled substance abuse and depression. During that time, Anthony Joshua collected the three belts Fury vacated and produced a string of impressive defenses. His second reign was ended by Usyk, who defeated Joshua twice.

Fury, 35, ESPN’s No. 10 pound-for-pound fighter, knows all of this, of course. His historical knowledge of the division gives much-needed context toward exactly what he’s looking to accomplish, and how this monumental fight with No. 3 ranked Usyk might impact his legacy.

“You gotta understand the game you’re in, the division you’re in,” Fury told ESPN, “the people who came before you so you can understand who you are and where you’ve come from and what journey you’re on. I believe that.

“You’re just talking about elite, elite, elite men. That’s why not all of these champions can be on that list as lineal champions. Only the best of the best of the best can be lineal champions. That’s why this fight, it means a lot to me, because if Usyk can beat me, puts his name on that list. If he can’t beat me, he’s not even gonna be on the list of lineal champions ever.”

Fury will look to gatekeep Usyk from that hollowed list of great fighting big men in a bout that’s nearly deadlocked per ESPN BET (Usyk at -105, Fury at -115). Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, told ESPN last month that the rematch is planned for Oct. 12 or 13 in Riyadh. Fury’s goal across these two upcoming fights with Usyk: “Keep ’em off that list.”

“Only way that they get on that list is if I retire before them and then they get a chance to do it,” Fury said. “While I am the gatekeeper, no one shall pass.”

“Do you know who has a lot of knowledge like this though? Mike Tyson,” Fury added. “Mike is the historian. I trust myself as I know a lot about heavyweight boxing. But Mike can go back to like 1845. Mike is incredible.”

Ahead of the summit meeting to crown boxing’s first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era, “The Gypsy King” showed off his immense knowledge of the heavyweight division with his thoughts on many of those 37 other lineal champions who came before him.


John L. Sullivan | 38-1-1, 32 KOs | 1885-1892

Regarded as boxing’s first-ever superstar, Sullivan was a cultural icon of late 19th century America. He was bestowed the championship on Aug. 8, 1887 in Boston, though his 75th-round KO victory over Jake Kilrain in Mississippi is largely recognized as the first-ever heavyweight championship fight. That was the final heavyweight title bout contested under the bare-knuckle, London Prize Ring Rules. It was also one of the first sporting events in the United States to gain national news coverage. Sullivan’s first defense of the recognized championship was his final fight, a 21st-round KO loss at the hands of Corbett. Both men wore five-ounce gloves.

“John L. Sullivan was a pioneer in this game,” Fury said, “and he made it possible for all of us people after him and even today to be able to do what we’re doing.”

There are some, including Fury, who believe Sullivan wasn’t the first champion at all. Fury credits James “Jem” Mace as the inaugural heavyweight champion. And there is a legitimate claim. Mace had defeated Tom Allen in 1870 in Louisiana, but anti-British entailment led many to disregard him as champion in the bare-knuckle days.

“Mace was a gypsy like me,” Fury said. “He had to be, he was brilliant. He was a three-time world champion. Three different divisions: middleweight, welterweight, heavyweight. Before Queensberry rules. It’s actually debated [who was the first champion]. Some people don’t say it’s John L. Sullivan. … I’m not gonna go into it, that’s a topic for another day.”


James Corbett | 11-4, 2 NC, 3 KOs) | 1892-1897

Corbett fought just 20 times, but nine of his opponents ended up in the International Boxing Hall of Fame just like him. Prizefighting was still illegal in 21 states during his title reign, which included just one successful defense. A 14th-round KO loss to Bob Fitzsimmons in 1897 in Carson City, Nevada, ended Corbett’s run. He challenged twice more for the heavyweight championship in a pair of stoppage defeats to James J. Jeffries.

“Corbett was a good guy. Corbett and Jeffries, all of these guys, they were all good guys back in the day,” Fury said. “They had a very weird style, what we’d say today. They were sort of like men who just punched each other to pieces. They were good, tough men back in the day. Different, different era, different time of boxing, but all good men.”


Bob Fitzsimmons | 61-8-4, 6 NC, 57 KOs | 1897-1899

No. 8 on The Ring Magazine’s list of the top 100 punchers, Fitzimmons was boxing’s first three-division champion. He weighed just 167 pounds when he defeated Corbett and lost the title in his first defense, an 11th-round KO loss to Jeffries in Brooklyn.


James J. Jeffries | 19-1-2, 2 NC | 1899-1905

Best known as the “Great White Hope” who came out of retirement to lose to Jack Johnson in a second heavyweight title bid, Jeffries went on a tour of exhibition bouts around the U.K., ahead of his first defense. That came against Tom Sharkey in a rematch. Jeffries made seven more successful defenses before he retired in 1905. Five years later, in 1910, he returned to fight one last time, a 15th-round TKO defeat to Johnson in what was promoted as the “fight of the century.”


Marvin Hart | 28-7-4, 20 KOs | 1905-1906

Following Jeffries’ retirement, Hart won the vacant title in July 1905 with a KO win over Jack Root in Reno. Before that win, Hart had already defeated Johnson on points. Hart was knocked off in his first defense, a 20-round decision defeat to Tommy Burns.


Tommy Burns | 47-4-8, 35 KOs | 1906-1908

The Canadian Burns made 13 defenses before he met Johnson, who scored a 14th-round TKO victory in Sydney, Australia, when the police stopped the bout.


Jack Johnson | 54-11-8, 4 NC, 34 KOs | 1908-1915

With that landmark victory, Johnson became boxing’s first Black heavyweight champion. Johnson made seven defenses before a 26th-round KO loss to Jess Willard in Havana, Cuba. Johnson is regarded as one of the 10 best heavyweights ever and among the most important figures in sports history.


Jess Willard | 22-5-1, 20 KOs | 1915-1919

Willard made one successful defense at Madison Square Garden before he encountered another all-time great, Jack Dempsey, who needed just three rounds to separate Willard from his title.

“Jess Willard was massive, 6-6, 6-7, however big he was,” Fury said. ” … So it’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog for sure.”


Jack Dempsey | 53-6-8, 43 KOs | 1919-1926

One of Mike Tyson’s boxing idols, Dempsey was a sporting icon who took part in the first boxing event to produce a $1 million gate with his 1921 victory over Georges Carpentier in Jersey City, New Jersey. Dempsey made five defenses before he was defeated by Gene Tunney in 1926. After a seventh-round KO of Jack Sharkey at Yankee Stadium, Dempsey met Tunney in a rematch, an infamous bout that ignited one of the first national sports controversies with “The Long Count Fight” in 1927. Tunney was floored in Round 7 but won by decision a second time.


Gene Tunney | 65-1-1, 1 NC, 48 KOs | 1926-1928

Tunney fought only once more following “The Long Count Fight,” an 11th-round TKO of Tom Heeney that earned him Fight of the Year honors from The Ring magazine in 1928. Fury credits Tunney as a turning point for the more sophisticated stylings of pugilism embodied today, saying “the real boxing pursuit started [with] Gene Tunney, The Boxing Marine.”

“Before that, they were mostly brawlers like Dempsey and all of the men before ’em, they were all like brawlers, get stuck in and be fit and have a go,” Fury added. ‘Gene Tunney was a very experienced boxer and he was probably one of the finest boxing men that’s ever lived.”


Max Schmeling | 56-10-4, 39 KOs | 1930-1932

Following Tunney’s retirement, Schmeling defeated Jack Sharkey via fourth-round DQ at Yankee Stadium to capture the vacant title. After one successful defense, Schmeling lost the title to Sharkey in the rematch via split decision. Schmeling lost to Max Baer via 10th-round TKO but rebounded with a 12th-round KO of Joe Louis in 1936. That was before Louis became heavyweight champion. In the 1938 rematch, one of the sport’s most notable fights ever, Louis exacted revenge with a first-round TKO win to retain his title.


Jack Sharkey | 37-13-3, 13 KOs | 1932-1933

Sharkey failed in his first title bid but gained boxing’s top prize in the Schmeling rematch. He lost the belt in his first defense, a sixth-round KO to Primo Carnera. Sharkey’s final fight was in 1936, a third-round KO loss to Louis.


Primo Carnera | 88-14 (71 KOs | 1933-1934

“The Italian guy was a big, big brute of a man,” Fury said. “6-foot-6, he had the size and everything. … This is a great example of size is not everything because Primo Carnera was 6-6 and he was beaten by small men. Little men.”

Carnera lost the title in his third defense, an 11th-round TKO loss to Baer, who was 6-2. Like Sharkey, Carnera suffered a KO loss to Louis (also 6-2) later in his career.


Max Baer | 63-13, 51 KOs | 1934-1935

No. 22 on The Ring’s list of the sport’s all-time biggest punchers, Baer never made a single successful defense. He lost the title to Jimmy Braddock via decision and was knocked out by Louis in his next fight.


James Braddock | 46-24-4, 3 NC, 26 KOs | 1935-1937

Braddock’s performance inspired the 2005 film “Cinderella Man” that depicted a Great Depression-era journeyman boxer who works on the docks punching his way out of poverty. Just like many of the men who preceded him on this list, the reign was short-lived. Braddock, too, was KOed by Louis in Round 8 of his next fight. That was the 26th defeat of his career.

“He had an up-and-down career,” Fury said. “He was a tough guy. He always fought with hand problems. I use Jimmy Braddock as a great example. When people tell me fighters of today, they can’t do this ’cause they haven’t eaten for four hours or they feel like they’re a bit weak ’cause this, that, and the other. Jimmy Braddock didn’t eat for three days ’cause he couldn’t afford it and then fought Max Bear for the heavyweight championship of the world and beat him.”


Joe Louis | 66-3, 52 KOs | 1937-1949

Arguably the greatest heavyweight ever, Louis put an end to the revolving door of champions with a 12-year reign that brought even more prestige to the title. His 25 consecutive title defenses remains a record regardless of weight class. Louis is one of the most influential athletes of all time and is regarded as perhaps the first Black American sporting hero.

“Joe Louis was a bit of a game changer,” Fury said. “He was a boxer, brilliant jab, brilliant right hand. ‘The Brown Bomber’, great, great fighter, bum-of-the month [club]campaign. He’d come at a time in World War II when it was difficult to be a boxer. And he’d done a lot of stuff for inspiring men at war, which was fantastic. He used to travel around [with] the military and tell jokes and sing and everything else he did.”


Ezzard Charles | 95-25-1, 52 KOs | 1949-1951

Charles ended Louis’ historic reign with a unanimous decision victory at Yankee Stadium. He made four defenses before he was KOed by “Jersey” Joe Walcott in Round 7 of their trilogy meeting. Charles won the first two bouts. He also owns a pair of wins over Hall of Famer Joey Maxim and is regarded by many as the greatest light heavyweight ever.

“Very underrated fighter, a lot of fights [121],” Fury said. “He even became a trainer in the end. Very, very good fighter … he fought all the greats. … He was one person who fought everybody. If you go through Ezzard Charles’ résumé, there’s some real legends.”


“Jersey” Joe Walcott | 49-20-1, 31 KOs | 1951-1952)

Walcott mastered The Philly Shell defensive stance, rolling his shoulder to alleviate the impact of punches. One of the best heavyweights of the 1940s and 50s, Walcott defeated Charles in the title rematch to even their series at two apiece before he dropped a pair of fights to Rocky Marciano ahead of his retirement. Walcott broke the record at the time for oldest boxer to challenge for the heavyweight title when he fought Louis in a 1948 rematch at age 33. He dropped Louis twice in the first meeting. Walcott was the referee for the infamous Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston rematch in 1965.

“The Dancing Master Jersey Joe, he was ahead of his time,” Fury said. ” … Big for his day. Not big as in today, big, but big for his time. A really good boxer. … He could punch, he could box, he could move. He was slick. I watched plenty of his fights. I watched plenty of his wins and then I watched him put Rocky Marciano down … and get knocked out [of] the ring in about Round 13.”


Rocky Marciano | 49-0, 43 KOs | 1952-1956

Marciano, an icon of the 20th century, remains boxing’s only heavyweight champion to retire undefeated. An undersized yet formidable puncher rated No. 14 by The Ring all time, Marciano’s KO of Walcott where he split the champion’s nose is one of boxing’s most-indelible moments. Following a first-round KO over Walcott in the immediate rematch, Marciano made five defenses. Three of those wins came against Hall of Famers (a pair of victories over Charles and a ninth-round KO of Archie Moore in Marciano’s final fight). Marciano died in a plane crash in 1969 at age 45.

“Marciano was a tough guy. Very tough, brutal, aggressive, little hard, strong, fit, determined destroyer, Fury said. “And I think people say, oh, he was only about 200 pounds or 180 so pounds. I think he’d be a handful for anybody in any era. For sure.”


Floyd Patterson | 55-8-1, 40 KOs | 1956-1959, 1960-1962

Patterson KOed Moore in Round 5 to capture the vacant title and become the youngest heavyweight champion ever at age 21. He’s also the first-ever two-time lineal heavyweight champion. Following four successful defenses, Patterson lost the title to Johansson via third-round KO. He regained it the following fight with a fifth-round KO in the rematch. Following another KO win over Johansson in the rubber match, Patterson dropped the title in a first-round KO loss to Sonny Liston, and lost the immediate rematch in the same manner.

“Patterson was a good fighter for sure,” said Fury. “Trained by Cus D’Amato. Champion. He actually had some brilliant fights … good boxer … but he didn’t have good feet, he had slow feet. And when he fought people fleet-footed like Muhammad Ali and people like that, they were found wanting. … I’ll tell you one guy I did rate, he fought Patterson in his pro debut, Pete Rademacher. He had Patterson down a few times as well. And [Patterson] got up and beat him later on in the fight.”

Rademacher, a gold medalist at the 1956 Olympic Games, is the only boxer in history to challenge for the heavyweight championship in his pro debut. The former Washington State football player fought Patterson in August 1957. Rademacher floored the champion in Round 2, but Patterson rebounded to drop the challenger seven times en route to a sixth-round KO.


Ingemar Johansson | 26-2, 17 KOs | 1959-1960

Johansson fought four more times following three consecutive fights with Patterson before he retired.

“Johansson was a good fighter,” Fury said. “Swedish guy, bit of a flash-in-the-pan. He beat Paterson, and [Patterson] beat him back [again].”


Sonny Liston | 50-4, 39 KOs | 1962-1964

Liston ended Patterson’s second reign and his only successful defense came in the rematch. The following fight, in one of the most important fights in boxing history, Cassius Clay TKOed Liston in Round 6.

“Sonny Liston, one of the most feared men of his day,” Fury said. “Mike Tyson said he makes him look like a Boy Scout. He was a bad man, Sonny Liston. But then he was no match for the great Cassius Clay back in the day and then later on, Muhammad Ali.”


Muhammad Ali | 56-5, 37 KOs | 1964-1971, 1974-1978, 1978-1979

When Liston entered the ring for the rematch 15 months later, his opponent was not Clay but Muhammad Ali. This time, it took Ali only one round to end matters. The KO produced one of the most-famous sports photographs of all time. Ali remains boxing’s only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. Perhaps the most influential athlete ever, Ali made 11 defenses until he lost to Joe Frazier in what was then the biggest fight ever. Ali regained the championship when he outpointed Frazier in the rematch three years later. Ali once again made 11 defenses until his reign was ended in shocking fashion by Leon Spinks. Ali defeated Spinks in the rematch but lost the championship to Larry Holmes a few months shy of his 39th birthday. Ali fought once more, a decision defeat to Trevor Berbick.

“Greatest of his time? That’s all he can ever be,” Fury said of Ali. “That’s all any man can ever be. Great in your own time because we can’t time travel. And again, it comes down to opinions. And again, opinions mean nothing. … Ali had all the controversial moments.

“He had all the stuff going on in his life: change of name was unheard of back in the day, the draft [and] not going to war, the Olympic gold medal, being refused in restaurants, it was in a time of racial prejudice in America. … He was loved by many, hated by many in his day. People didn’t like him. He was brash. But after he was finished, people loved him ’cause they realized how good he was at the end of his career. It’s typical when you’re active, people don’t really care, but when you finish they all say, ‘oh, he is a great fighter, yada yada yada.'”


Joe Frazier | 32-4-1, 27 KOs | 1971-1973

Frazier will forever be connected to Ali as part of the greatest rivalry in boxing history. The first meeting was the most historic, but the Thrilla in Manila, their third meeting, is one of the greatest fights of all time. After that 14th-round KO loss to Ali, Frazier fought just twice more, including another KO loss to George Foreman. But his reign ended in the first fight with Foreman, a second-round TKO loss that produced the famous Howard Cosell call, “Down goes Frazier.”


George Foreman | 76-5, 68 KOs | 1973-1974, 1994-1997

Foreman made just two defenses during his first reign, most notably a second-round KO of Hall of Famer Ken Norton. Then came his upset loss to Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman fought six more times afterward — including another KO win over Frazier – and then retired following a defeat to Jimmy Young in 1977. He returned 10 years later at age 38 and then in 1994, shockingly knocked out Michael Moorer at age 45 to become the oldest heavyweight champion ever.

“’64 and ’68 … gold-medal winners in the Olympic game and great fighters,” said Fury, referring to Frazier and Foreman, respectively. “Joe Frazier knocked everybody out, beat Muhammad Ali the first time around. And then look what Foreman did to him, knocked him off his feet with an uppercut and absolutely blitzed him.

“That’s why I always say styles make fights because Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali and the fight he lost with him was very close as well. George Foreman absolutely wrecked Joe Frazier twice. And then Ali beat George Foreman and Frazier. That’s how fights work. Styles do make fights.”


Leon Spinks | 26-17-3, 14 KOs | 1978

A one-hit wonder in the pros — though also an Olympic gold medalist in 1974 Spinks shocked Ali for the crown in just his eighth pro fight. He lost the title back to Ali in the immediate rematch.


Larry Holmes | 69-6, 44 KOs | 1980-1985

Holmes owned one of boxing’s greatest jabs and used it to cement himself as the best heavyweight of the 80s. He was already the WBC titleholder (with a TKO win over Earnie Shavers) when he defeated Ali for the lineal championship. Holmes made 14 defenses — including a third-round KO win over Spinks — until he ran into Leon’s older brother, Michael.


Michael Spinks | 31-1, 21 KOs | 1985-1988

Michael Spinks turned out to be a much more accomplished pro than his younger brother. And when Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever, it was Spinks who was still recognized as the lineal champion after his pair of decision wins over Holmes. In Tyson’s best performance, he ended Spinks in explosive fashion in the opening round.


Mike Tyson | 50-6, 2 NC, 44 KOs | 1988-1990

Tyson established himself as the guy at heavyweight with his destruction of Spinks and went on to make just two defenses of the lineal crown. But he remains one of the most-recognizable and bankable athletes of all time. Following that upset defeat to James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo, Tyson was found guilty of rape and sentenced to six years in prison. After he was released in March 1995, Tyson shared the ring with Holyfield in one of greatest fights in heavyweight title history before the infamous “Bite Fight” rematch.

“I think Mike Tyson is an absolute living legend,” Fury said. “Mike Tyson’s one of these people, no matter how old you are, no matter where from or what language or what religion you are, everybody knows Mike Tyson. … And he’s had his ups and downs and he’s had his in-betweens, but he’s still going and he’s still representing boxing and he’s still a legend. … “He’s had a brilliant career, spent more money than any man could ever earn and enjoyed it. Wasted it, invested it, whatever he did with it. And now he’s back again and he’s back to fight Jake Paul and get a s— ton of money in one of the biggest events of the year. So congratulations to Mike. Still repping.

“All human beings have their ups and downs and they have their episodes of depression or anxiety or mental-health struggles, whatever it might be, drug addiction, alcohol addiction. We’re all only humans and we all can be affected by human stuff. And the fact that me and Mike are so open about it, which makes us feel vulnerable, people can relate to that and that’s why we’re relatable.”


James “Buster” Douglas | 37-6-1, 1 NC, 24 KOs | 1990

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On this date: Douglas KO’s Tyson

Check out Buster Douglas’ 10th-round knockout of Mike Tyson in their heavyweight title fight in Tokyo on Feb. 11, 1990, which is considered one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

In arguably the greatest upset in sports history, Douglas picked himself off the canvas and defined 42-1 odds to end Tyson’s reign in Tokyo. Douglas was in noticeably bad shape for his first defense as he was KOed in Round 3 by Holyfield, the former cruiserweight champion.


Evander Holyfield | 44-10-2, 1 NC, 29 KOs | 1990-1992, 1993-1994

Holyfield was known for his immense fighting spirit. Though undersized, Holyfield was able to absorb Tyson’s concussive blows and knock him out in the first meeting. His heavyweight title trilogy with Riddick Bowe is one of the greatest in history and included the infamous “Fan Man Fight,” the rematch where Holyfield regained his title. Holyfield lost it again in the following fight, a decision loss to Moorer.


Riddick Bowe | 43-1, 1 NC, 33 KOs | 1992-1993

“Big Daddy” Bowe outpointed Holyfield in the first meeting but dropped the title via majority decision in the rematch. Bowe also defeated Holyfield in the rubber match, but neither man was champion then.


Michael Moorer | 52-4-1, 40 KOs | 1994

Like many others on this list, Moorer never made a single successful defense. He lost the crown in shocking fashion to Foreman and later was stopped by Holyfield in a unified title fight, though Holyfield wasn’t then the lineal champion. Moorer, a former light heavyweight, is the only southpaw on this list.


Shannon Briggs | 60-6-1, 1 NC, 53 KOs | 1997-1998

Briggs, like Moorer, didn’t score one win as lineal champion. He won the title with a majority-decision victory over Foreman and was subsequently stopped in Round 5 by Lewis.


Lennox Lewis | 41-2-1, 32 KOs | 1998-2001, 2001-2004

One of the 10 greatest heavyweights ever, Lewis fought Holyfield in 1999 in the last undisputed heavyweight championship. Lewis lost the title via KO to Hasim Rahman in one of the biggest upsets in division history but exacted revenge in the next fight to start a second reign. Lewis retired as champion following a scare with Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko was ahead on the scorecards when the doctor stopped the fight. Klitschko required 60 stitches to close a cut above his eye. Lewis’ 2002 TKO win over Tyson shattered revenue and PPV records.


Hasim Rahman | 50-9-2, 41 KOs | 2001

Though Rahman never made a successful defense, he was featured in several notable fights in defeat. He suffered a grotesque hematoma in his forehead against Holyfield and was later knocked out through the ropes and onto the floor by Oleg Maskaev in Round 12 of a title bid.


Wladimir Klitschko | 64-5, 53 KOs | 2009-2015

The man Fury defeated to capture the lineal championship, Klitschko ruled over the division for most of the 2000s and 2010s in a down-era for heavyweight boxing. Fury was a sizable underdog but outboxed Klitschko on enemy territory in Germany to launch himself to stardom.

“I think my favorite fighter from back then — I admire ’em all — but I always looked at Wladimir Klitschko because he was the champion when I was an amateur boxer,” Fury said. “So I was always focusing on Wladimir and nobody else really.”


Tyson Fury | 34-0-1, 24 KOs | 2015-Present

Fury remains at the mountaintop and will rake in 10s of millions more in this long-awaited clash with Usyk, an ultra-rare meeting of two heavyweights on the pound-for-pound list. Fury’s impressive résumé includes a pair of wins over Deontay Wilder in their epic trilogy, including the 2021 ESPN Fight of the Year and KO of the year. Fury surprisingly struggled with former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in October but is in far better shape for this fight with Usyk, which was set to take place in February. That was before Fury absorbed a nasty flash over his right eye from an elbow in sparring weeks out from the fight. Now, we’re finally here at Fury’s date with destiny and the chance to add “undisputed” to accompany his status as lineal champion.

“I’ve got two fights with Usyk, and then I’ll probably do another couple of fights with big old sausage AJ [Anthony Joshua] and then I’ll fight whoever,” Fury said. “Like Turki said, he wants me to do another eight, 10 fights. We can rack ’em up nice and quickly the next few years. Happy days.

“I don’t really care where they wanna put me [historically] or whatever ’cause I’ve lived my day,” Fury added. ” … I’m having it now. I’m living it. But when it’s all finished, I’ve had a good old time doing it and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

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