Yesterday evening a second British heavyweight claimed a world championship. Anthony Joshua (pictured highest) barely broke a sweat as he ruthlessly disposed of seemingly dangerous American International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Charles Martin. With this victory British heavyweights now hold two of the four world boxing championships, with Tyson Fury (pictured second highest) only retaining one of the three belts won against Wladimir Klitschko.
British heavyweights have maintained a steady presence through the history of a division dominated by Americans. As far back as 1897, Bob Fitzsimmons became the first Briton the claim the undisputed world heavyweight championship under modern Queensberry rules. Arguably the biggest heavyweight fight between two British boxers came when a young Lennox Lewis, then World Boxing Council (WBC) champion, defeated public favorite Frank Bruno in front of 25,000 people in 1993. This was the first occasion where two British boxers had contested a world heavyweight championship fight.
If the Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury fight is confirmed then it will be the first world unification clash between two British heavyweights in history. The potential for public interest could be on par with Lewis-Bruno, as both boxers have generated significant media attention in recent years. Joshua, as the Olympic Gold Medalist from London 2012, has been hailed as the golden boy with a perfect knockout record. An ideal combination of power and finesse.
Tyson Fury has had a tougher rise to the top. After a stellar amateur career he fought professionally for seven years, winning the British and Commonwealth titles, and maintaining an unbeaten record. He only got his shot at the world title last November against Wladimir Klitschko, who had an unbeaten streak of nearly ten years. The upset victory gave brought Fury to the attention to the wider sporting public, albeit his popularity has been hindered by some controversial statements.
With Fury currently lined up for a rematch against Klitschko, in the meantime Joshua may line up a unification bout against WBC champion Deontay Winter. So if the Joshua-Fury clash is arranged in the future it could have even more at stake than in does at the moment.
With the heavyweight division in disarray, and no great individual fighter seemingly capable of seizing the top spot for the time being, this reporter feels optimistic that a British sporting legend could be born in the near future.
by Jack Mallon