With Saturday's bout between Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, the heavyweight division starts down a path many hope ends with an undisputed heavyweight champion. Should things go according to plan, the winner of Joshua vs. Usyk will clash with the winner of the trilogy fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, scheduled for Oct. 9.
WBA, IBF and WBO champion Joshua was previously scheduled to meet WBC champ Fury when Wilder managed to enforce his contractually-obligated rematch with Fury via arbitration. Joshua moved along to face mandatory challenger and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Usyk with the goal of still unifying the championships in his next fight.
While nothing is ever guaranteed, especially when it comes to boxing, the sport seems just one fight away from crowning an undisputed heavyweight champion. CBS Sports boxing experts Brian Campbell and Brent Brookhouse have ranked who in this unofficial tournament is most likely to be the man to hold all four recognized heavyweight world titles.
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1. Tyson Fury
2. Deontay Wilder
3. Anthony Joshua
4. Oleksandr Usyk
The best part about heavyweight boxing has always been the extreme unpredictability of how a seemingly certain outcome can change with just one punch. Yet it's what we don't currently know about the top four remaining fighters in the division entering this unofficial semifinal round that makes handicapping things so difficult. Based on recent history, it's hard not to favor Fury -- given his size, speed and dynamic style -- as the outright favorite to be the first four-belt undisputed heavyweight champion. Yet it was Wilder who seemed to be one punch away from finishing Fury in their first meeting in 2018 and appears to be dangerously reborn in the time between their 2020 rematch (a Fury TKO win) and the upcoming third fight. No one is expecting Wilder to become a boxer overnight, but he could lean even heavier into his strengths as a murderous puncher and add a body attack and stronger jab to make his puncher's chance more dangerous. And then there's Usyk, who could flip this "tournament" upside this weekend should his chin and elusiveness prove able to withstand Joshua's power. And that doesn't even take into account AJ's somewhat suspect chin and reoccurring cardio issues. The best part about this four-pack of heavyweights is that they seem to be just as vulnerable as they are dangerous. Just don't get caught dismissing Wilder's chances of finding new life atop the division.
1. Anthony Joshua
2. Tyson Fury
3. Deontay Wilder
4. Oleksandr Usyk
Assuming boxing manages to avoid shooting itself in the foot once again and the winners of the two upcoming bouts meet to crown an undisputed champion, you have to start by picking the likely winner of the first fights. Fury has proven he is a bad matchup for Wilder, even if Wilder has the ultimate puncher's chance in any bout. Usyk is a wonderful boxer but heavyweight has proven a difficult transition for him and Joshua is an elite in the division. A meeting of Joshua and Fury feels like a toss-up but I give Joshua a slight edge in overall likelihood of becoming undisputed champion on two fronts. First, there's a higher likelihood that Wilder catches Fury and knocks him out than that Usyk beats Joshua. Second, there's always a chance that Fury decides to retire after the Wilder fight. He has certainly done stranger things in the past and Joshua doesn't have the same wildcard element to his future.