There is, at present, a massive gap in boxing’s Heavyweight division between its top three fighter and the rest of the competition. Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua have proven themselves on their own tier, with even dangerous foes like Luis Ortiz and Dillian Whyte considered somewhat unappealing match ups. So far, the “Big 3” has fought amongst itself just once, a terrific clash between Wilder and Fury (watch highlights) that ended with the only boxing tradition more sacred than elite fighters not facing each other: Terrible scorecards.
That’s the reason 2019 looked like the perfect time to get everything settled — Wilder vs. Fury 2 seemed easy to make and Joshua was the most obvious opponent in the world for whoever won. It’s not like total unification was anathema to the sanctioning bodies, either, as Oleksandr Usyk recently claimed every legitimate Cruiserweight belt.
Yet, none of them are fighting each other.
The original plan was for Joshua to rematch rival Whyte on April 13, 2019, while Wilder and Fury worked out a deal for their own rematch. Talks stalled, however, and Joshua elected to fight unbeaten American Jarrell Miller on June, 1, 2019. On the other side, Fury suddenly signed a co-promotion deal with Top Rank (details), and Wilder’s manager, Shelly Finkel, claimed that Top Rank’s offer to his fighter was unacceptable.
There was talk of Wilder signing with DAZN, which would have cleared some hurdles for a Joshua match, but he turned down that offer as well and will face his mandatory challenger, Dominic Breazeale, on May 18, 2019.
To be honest, Joshua vs. Miller and Wilder vs. Breazeale are perfectly acceptable fights when not viewed as alternatives to Joshua vs. Wilder. Miller’s on a tear and Breazeale has been the mandatory challenger for more than one year. Both are respected fighters, albeit ones on a tier below the elite. However, the real kick in the teeth came when Fury announced his next foe: Tom Schwarz.
BoxRec has Schwarz ranked No. 42 in the division. He’s fought just once outside of his native Germany and never against a respected opponent. Fury facing the likes of Sefer Seferi and Francisco Pianeta was acceptable considering he was coming off a gargantuan layoff, but this is inexcusably bad matchmaking.
I honestly can’t muster up the energy to spew invective. This isn’t even anger-inducing at this point, just profoundly dumb. The one silver lining is that each of the three still have years left in their respective careers. Perhaps they can sort this all out by 2021, assuming none of them get knocked out while their fights “marinate.”
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