The term ‘Golden Age’ is casually thrown around when it comes to discussing the Heavyweight divisions of the 1970’s and 1990’s– and for good reason. The unpredictability of the 1970’s made every fight unmissable. Joe Frazier and Ken Norton beat Muhammad Ali, taking his throne. George Foreman flattened Frazier twice and then knocked Norton out before Ali bounced back, dominating Frazier and Norton before knocking out Foreman in the most flawless upset in boxing history.
This abundance of competition was no foreshadowing of the 1980’s which was dominated by Mike Tyson, who cruised into the 1990’s with a record of 37-0. Two months later, he lost his undefeated record and his belts to an unknown James Douglas. This flipped the division on its head, setting the path for a second Golden Age that produced all-time greats Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.
The 2000’s were dominated by the Klitschko brothers, who held the major belts for 10 years. Despite their greatness, their ‘risk-free’ style caused audiences interest to decline. Fans longed for a return of terrifying power, inspiring technicality and unpredictable bouts.
And then came the 2010’s. Anthony Joshua’s 11th round TKO of Wladimir Klitschko sent shockwaves around the world, resparking a global interest in Heavyweight boxing. Although Tyson Fury dethroned Klitschko two years prior, it was AJ’s all-or-nothing warrior mentality that mesmerised fans worldwide.
AJ’s success brought attention to his American rival Deontay Wilder. An odd spectacle, with an unusually lean frame, Wilder uses his imposing size and athleticism to generate enormous swinging hooks that are truly lethal. His clash-of-styles war with Tyson Fury ended in a draw, leaving fans begging for a rematch.
Wilder rematches Luis Ortiz on November 23rd and should face Fury next year. Meanwhile, AJ attempts his revenge on Andy Ruiz Jr on December 7th.
With Cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk stepping up to Heavyweight, and British names like Dillian Whyte, Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois edging closer to world title shots, it is only a matter of time before the belts find new owners. In time, one man will prevail as king of the third Golden Age of Heavyweight boxing.
Article by Alex Greenough