If you're looking for a date that might have signified the official start of this renaissance in the heavyweight division of boxing, it was Nov. 28, 2015, when unbeaten Tyson Fury stepped into the ring in Dusseldorf, Germany, to disarm and outpoint former unified champion Wladimir Klitschko.
We may not have known it then, but Fury's upset victory was a passing of the torch from the former face of the division to the new one, even if Fury's initial reign was ultimately a short one as he vacated all three titles within the next year without defending them.
Six years, and many dramatic turns later (including Fury's miraculous return from a destructive three-year layoff), the self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" remains in the pole position of this exciting era for boxing's glamour division. His thrilling 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in their trilogy bout on Saturday, which served surprisingly as the first title defense of Fury's career, only further solidified who is the division's best fighter.
Fury's work, of course, is far from done. The WBC and lineal champion still hopes to become the division's first undisputed king of the four-belt era. That can't happen until unified champion Oleksandr Usyk defends his newly acquired WBA, WBO and IBF titles in early 2022 against Anthony Joshua in a contractually obligated rematch.
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a look at Tyson Fury's masterful performance against Deontay Wilder below.
But there's no question that what Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) has accomplished throughout his unbeaten career is quickly becoming historically significant. The 33-year-old from Great Britain is a unicorn from the standpoint of the speed and quickness that his 6-foot-9 frame is able to produce. Yet it's the manner in which he switched gears to finish Wilder in both their second and third meetings that continues to build upon his growing legend.
Fury relied on his slickness to survive a pair of knockdowns against Wilder in their first meeting in 2018, which went down as a disputed split draw. But he sought out new trainer SugarHill Steward, the nephew of the late Hall of Famer Emmanuel Steward, to teach him the Kronk Gym style of using his size and aggression to seek knockouts.
The 2020 rematch between Wilder and Fury was a one-sided demolition. Their third meeting was anything but. Fueled by revenge, Wilder proved willing to leave it all in the ring and forced Fury to rely on his backbone and recuperative abilities to rise up from the canvas twice more against the sport's biggest puncher only to score three knockdowns of his own en route to a vicious KO win.
Not only are Fury's skills and technique worthy of pound-for-pound recognition among his peers in the game, his heart and will deserve even more praise. Regardless of who comes out of the Usyk-Joshua rematch or whether Fury is forced to defend his WBC title first against mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte, he is making it increasingly hard to bet against him in any proposed matchup among active heavyweights.
| 1. Canelo Alvarez||56-1-2, 37 KOs||Unified super middleweight champion||--|
|The Mexican superstar has set a date for his undisputed title bout at 168 pounds against unbeaten IBF champion Caleb Plant, and the promotion for their Nov. 6 clash made headlines when the two fights brawled during their introductory press conference.|
|2. Naoya Inoue|| 19-0, 17 KOs|| Unified bantamweight champion||--|
|The Japanese "Monster" savagely finished mandatory challenger Michael Dasmarinas in June to continue his American commercial invasion. Inoue is rumored to be heading into a December unification bout against Filipino slugger John Riel Casimero.|
|3. Errol Spence Jr.||27-0, 21 KOs||Unified welterweight champion||--|
|Surgery on a detached retina forced Spence out of a pay-per-view date against Manny Pacquiao in August and has raised concerns over the 31-year-old's future. When active, Spence has the making to be a generational talent, but injuries have slowed his progression. |
|4. Terence Crawford||36-0, 26 KOs||Welterweight champion||--|
|Boxing finally did Crawford right as the WBO made Shawn Porter the mandatory challenger for his title. Finally, Crawford will get his chance on Nov. 20 to test his skills against a fellow elite welterweight. "Bud," at age 34, enters the final fight of his Top Rank deal.|
|5. Tyson Fury||31-0-1, 23 KOs||WBC heavyweight champion|
|"The Gypsy King" returned from a nearly two-year absence to rise from the canvas twice in a thrilling 11th-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in their trilogy bout. Although Fury's hope of becoming undisputed champion in 2021 failed to happen, he remains the face of the division. |
|6. Oleksandr Usyk||19-0, 13 KOs||Unified heavyweight champion|
|The former undisputed cruiserweight champ upset the apple cart at heavyweight by convincingly outpointing Anthony Joshua in London. A contractually obligated rematch is up next, likely early in 2022, as Usyk continues his takeover of a second division. |
|7. Vasiliy Lomachenko||15-2, 11 KOs||Lightweight|
|Unified champion Teofimo Lopez Jr.'s decision not to grant Lomachenko a rematch has the Ukrainian wizard currently without a big fish to catch. At 33, Lomachenko reminded fans of his greatness when he finished Masayoshi Nakatani in June. He's set to face former title holder Richard Commey in December.|
|8. Teofimo Lopez Jr.||15-0, 12 KOs||Unified lightweight champion||--|
|It seems like a long time ago now that Lopez upset Lomachenko in their 135-pound summit. But with his bizarre soap opera with Triller now behind him, the 24-year-old Lopez should finally get his mandatory bout against George Kambosos Jr. in the coming months.|
|9. Josh Taylor||18-0, 13 KOs ||Undisputed junior welterweight champion||--|
|"The Tartan Tornado" made a resounding statement when he dropped Jose Ramirez twice en route to a decision win in their 140-pound unification bout. The future is bright for Taylor, who can now add Teofimo Lopez Jr. as one of his potential suitors.|
|10. Gervonta Davis||25-0, 24 KOs||Junior welterweight champion||--|
|By moving up two weight divisions in June to stop unbeaten Mario Barrios in their 140-pound thriller, Davis continued to build his PPV brand. Up next, "Tank" welcomes slugger Rolando Romero in a December lightweight bout. |
Honorable mention: Juan Francisco Estrada, Artur Beterbiev, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Yordenis Ugas, Shakur Stevenson, Roman Gonzalez