By: James Risoli
In the pugilistic art form of the boxing world the title of heavyweight champion has always reigned supreme. Even the term heavyweight bears a deeper unknown subconscious meaning to the sport. Those brave warriors who seek after the glory of one day having their hands raised inside the square circle and being crowned heavyweight champion bear the “heavy weighted” burden of boxing’s life force. Heavyweights have always carried the sport from its lowest of lows to its highest of highs. From the roaring 20’s and 1930’s when “The Manassa Mauler” Jack Dempsey and “The Brown Bomber” Joe Louis would become cultural icons for their aggressive fighting styles and sensational boxing power to the golden age of boxing of the 1960’s and 70’s where names like Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and many others were spoken in every household across America and throughout the boxing world. In the 1990’s “Iron Mike” Tyson and Evander Holyfield, as well as, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe continued to carry the torch and brought fights inside the homes of boxing fans to forever to be watched, scrutinized, awed, and watched again for years and years to come. These men and many others imprinted their legacy on the sport and cemented the idea that the man who holds the heavyweight title holds the keys to the heart of boxing and its masses.
Then something happened. Boxing fell into a seemingly dark age. An age where Wladimir Klitschko and his brother Vitali would reign supreme and seemingly freeze the heavyweight division of boxing for over a decade. Nothing against Wladimir Klitschko. The man himself is an all-time great and a future hall of famer, who achieved the highest distinctions any one man before him named could achieve, yet something was missing. The glory that was once the heavyweight division started to fade and boxing’s life blood was being diverted elsewhere as were many of it fans. The lighter divisions started to stamp their own mark on the sport of boxing with fighters like Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao now being where most eyes of the fans were being diverted. Why? What happened to the heavyweight division and the days where fans would flock to their televisions or to the arenas to witness these warriors that once held the hearts of the fans?
Boxing Dark Ages was not the fault of one man. It was not brought about by Wladimir Klitschko. By no fault of his own Wladimir Klitschko ruled in a time where the heavyweight division was bogged down by mediocre competition and the honest lack of quality opposition, talent and durability. Or could it have been an even deeper unsaid theory that threw the heavyweight division in a state of limbo? Could it have been the lack of an American or English Heavyweight contender for fans to get behind?
Either way all one has to do is to look at the heavyweight division as of today and see that those two questions are moot. The heavyweight division is teeming with young talent with the likes of Adam Kownacki, Dominic Breazeale, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, Daniel Dubois, Jermaine Franklin, and Darmani Rock. We just recently in the past 30 days got to witness four undefeated heavyweights in title bout eliminators, one of which took place at Principality Stadium in Cardiff Wales in front of 80,000 fans and viewed across the worlds by millions. The other in New York City, the mecca city of boxing, where two undefeated champions went toe-to-toe for ten grueling rounds. Americans now have their first true American heavyweight champion to get behind in decades and our friends across the pound over in the U.K. have theirs. Those of you reading this article have seen and have beared witness to the two men that now seek to release the heavyweight division from the shackles of the dark ages. Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are becoming the new household names of the heavyweight division. They are battling the ghosts of the past to become the new legends of the future. It is an exciting time for the heavyweight division. One of these men wants to have his hand raised in that square circle with the same meaning the title held previously and you can best believe the competition behind will be gunning for the same. A division that has been asleep has now been stirred from its slumber and once again the warriors of the heavyweight division are on a mission to become the life force of the boxing world and take back the most important and prestigious division in boxing.