You Know Their Names. But, Do You Know Their History? Part 3- Securing the World Championship

As I round off this three-part series, I’ve been reflecting back on the journey to write the article. As mentioned, before I’m an avid boxing fan who is always trying to get a feel of what the athlete is really like. Searching the net and watching the fight clips on replay trying to build an understanding beyond the hype to feed my interest. So, peeling back the layers of hype and promotion to present you with the black and white figures has been extremely satisfying. Writing this last article has been so interesting I had to stop myself from writing which is not a bad thing as writer's block is more common than not. So, without further delay here we go.

In part three, I outline the numbers before securing a World title, including the figures showcasing the consolidated records of the prior opponents, number of bouts before a World Championship fight, and going in-depth into the World Championship fights themselves. As you are already armed with the knowledge of each fighter's amateur backgrounds, and initial steps into the professional ranks through Part 1 & 2 (if you missed these click HERE to recap on part one, and HERE to recap on part two), this article will give you further insight into the recent and current World Champions and the associated bouts that have secured the Athletes top position in the World rankings.

As always. Let me be clear, and upfront, I don't claim to be an expert analyst by any means. There is no consistent path in the making of a World Champion Boxer, but that's the beauty of this game. The results speak for themselves, and you may ask yourself, why do particular fighters achieve a World Champion status quicker than others? I love these potentially controversial discussion items, as everyone has an opinion and a perspective. So, jump into the comments section at the end ⬇️ and share your thoughts on who, how, and why some can reach this level of success in some cases much sooner than others.

Note: The proceeding tables and graphs look at the records of the current and recent World Champions had before their first World Title Fight, while also showcasing the consolidated amount of fights their prior opponents had before the World Title fight opportunity.

Andy Ruiz Jr

Professional Record of 33-1, Current WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO World Heavyweight Champion

Heavyweight - Ruiz vs. Joshua 

Champion Anthony Joshua 248 lbs lost to Andy Ruiz Jr 268 pounds by TKO at 1:27 in round 7 of 12 

Date: 2019-06-01  

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA

Prior to the Dimitrenko fight, Ruiz put his name forward to replace Jarrell Miller and challenge Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) for the unified WBA (Super)/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titles on June 1, 2019, after the New York Athletic Commission denied Miller a license because he failed three different tests for PEDs. On April 22, Ruiz confirmed his team had a meeting scheduled with promoter Eddie Hearn, officially putting himself in the running. Ruiz became a frontrunner after it was reported Luis Ortiz's team had rejected two offers of career-high purses to fight Joshua. Terms were agreed within a week. On May 1, with one month to go before fight night, Joshua vs. Ruiz was confirmed and announced to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, broadcast exclusively on DAZN in the United States and on PPV Sky Sports Box Office in the United Kingdom.

Ringside DAZN commentator Sugar Ray Leonard's comments echoed respect for Ruiz' victory, and the concept that in the ring, anything can happen at any time: “This is a surprise to boxing fans and the world. You (Andy) are the epitome of don’t judge a book by his cover. I am impressed. Ruiz fought like a big man and fought as Joshua should have. Andy, you proved all of us wrong, and that's why I love boxing."

Promoter Eddie Hearn and Joshua both noted that a mandatory rematch clause would be exercised in the United Kingdom in either November or December of 2019. "One hundred percent (we will fight a rematch in the UK next)," noted Joshua.

Deontay Wilder

Professional Record of 41-0-1, Current WBC World heavyweight Champion

Heavyweight - Wilder vs. Stiverne

Deontay Wilder 219 lbs beat Bermane Stiverne 239 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12 

Date: 2015-01-17 

Location: MGM Grand, Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Beating fellow American Malik Scott by first-round knockout, in March 2014, set up his position as the mandatory challenger for the WBC heavyweight title held by new champion Bermane Stiverne, who had defeated Chris Arreola for the title vacated by the retiring Vitali Klitschko. On January 17, 2015, billed as 'Return to Glory,' Wilder fought Stiverne at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. He made his dream a reality by winning the WBC heavyweight title from the defending champion by unanimous decision after twelve rounds. The three official judges scored it 118–109, 119–108, and 120–107. Stiverne landed 110 of 327 punches (34%), with Wilder landing 227 of 621 punches (37%).

At 32-0 with 32 knockouts but untested against world-class opposition, Deontay Wilder, 29, demonstrated with this 12 round unanimous decision that he was the best American to hold a share of the world heavyweight title since Shannon Briggs did it in 2006, Wilder appeared to win nearly every round, mainly due to punch volume activity. At 6'7" tall, Wilder enjoyed a five-inch reach advantage over Stiverne, who could not get inside with consistency, and swung with wild misses on occasion, being out of range. Wilder, at 219 pounds to Stiverne's 239 pounds, was also far faster on his feet. Both gentlemen traded power shots, and neither was able to move the other significantly, so the bout was destined to go the distance. Over time, Stiverne's face swelled though he hung tough. A strange moment happened at the end of round two, when Stiverne, apparently hit by a punch, fell  forward, sending himself, Wilder and referee Tony Weeks tumbling to the canvas, ruled no knockdown. Stiverne's promoter, Don King, noted after the world title bout Wilder deserved to win because Stiverne was not throwing enough punches. By the punch count, not a close bout, though Wilder was taken past the fourth round-and the distance-by a legitimate opponent for the first time. There were few jabs, and little bodywork attempted during the contest. Former world heavyweight champions Larry Holmes and Evander Holyfield were among those in attendance ringside at the MGM Grand Las Vegas as a share of the heavyweight title changed hands on Muhammad Ali's 73rd birthday.  

Wilder had some big rounds, particularly rounds 2 and 7, where he threw a barrage of power shots. Wilder showed that he could go 12 rounds and utilized his jab throughout. This was the first real proof to critics that Wilder could go the distance and could box, as up to that point, he had finished all opponents inside the distance. The fight averaged 1.24 million viewers, peaking at 1.34 million on Showtime. According to the NSAC, Wilder earned $1 million, and Stiverne received $910,000. Shortly after the fight, Wilder cut his relationship with Golden Boy Promotions, and Al Haymon became his new manager. 

Terence Crawford 

Professional Record of 35-0, held multiple world championships in three weight classes, including the WBO welterweight title since 2018.

Lightweight - Crawford vs. Burns

Ricky Burns 134 lbs lost to Terence Crawford 134 pounds by UD in round 12 of 12 

Date: 2014-03-01

Location: Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Crawford traveled to Scotland five months later to take on 30-year-old Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title on March 1, 2014. Hearn was pleased to bring the fight to Scotland and admitted it was Burns' toughest fight to date.

Crawford won, but it was not an upset. The first seven rounds were competitive. Perhaps the first three rounds went to Burns as they were about even. From the fourth round on, edge to Crawford as his jabs were fast, and he outworked Burns, winning his first world title. The judges' scored the fight 117-111, 116-112, and 116-112 unanimously in favor of Crawford. Burns praised Crawford after the fight, merely stating, "The better man won." Over the 12 rounds, Crawford was credited to landing 213 of 811 punches thrown (26%) but landed 41% of his power punches. Burns landed 76 of his 552 thrown (14%) and landed no more than seven power punches per round.

Super Lightweight - Crawford vs. Dulorme 

Terence Crawford 140 lbs beat Thomas Dulorme 139 lbs by TKO at 1:51 in round 6 of 12

On March 6, 2015, ESPN reported that Crawford would debut as a super lightweight, challenging for the vacant WBO title at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, against 25-year-old Thomas Dulorme on April 18. At the press conference, Crawford told Dulorme, "Come prepared because I am going to be ready. The fans should expect a spectacular victory. This is my second world title at a different weight, and I am going to be up for it. I will be prepared. I am always ready and prepared for any fight." The fight was stopped after Dulorme was knocked down three times in the 6th round, granting Crawford a TKO victory and the WBO title. Dulorme started aggressively but was unable to land much. Crawford remained defensive, picking his shots and working the distance. Referee Rafael Ramos stopped the fight at 1 minute, 51 seconds of the round. The fight averaged 1.004 million viewers on HBO.

Super Lightweight - Crawford vs. Postol

Terence Crawford 140 lbs beat Viktor Postol 140 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12  

Date: 2016-07-23 

Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

On May 3, 2016, it was finally confirmed that Crawford and Viktor Postol had officially signed a contract for the highly anticipated light-welterweight unification fight on July 23 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Both fighters entered the ring with a matched record of 28 wins, no losses. Both men also entered the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the first time in their respective careers. Crawford won by unanimous decision and unified two light-welterweight world titles before a crowd of 7,027. Crawford also claimed the vacant Lineal and The Ring Magazine titles. Crawford scored two flash knockdowns in the fifth round, on going away on all three scorecards 118-107, 118-107, and 117-108. also scored the fight 118-107 for Crawford.

Postol resorted to rabbit punching in the 11th round. He nailed Crawford with a right hand behind the head, for which Postol was penalized one point, adding to Crawford's advantage. With the victory, Crawford staked his indisputable claim to division supremacy and set himself up for bigger fights, possibly against a returning Manny Pacquiao. Over 12 rounds, Crawford landed 141 of his 388 punches thrown (36%), and Postol landed 83 of 244 thrown (34%).

In the post-fight, Postol praised Crawford, saying, "I thought it was a good fight between two technicians, but he was quicker than me. He is one of the best fighters in the world. I just didn't have the answers for him." Crawford also praised his trainer Brian McIntyre, "Freddie Roach and Postol said that Freddie would outcoach my coach, but you tell 'em who got outcoached tonight." McIntyre revealed the plan was to keep Postol moving, which would have eliminated his jab and right hand. Crawford's purse for the fight was $1.3 million. Postol earned $675,000 for his part. Some sources stated the fight generated 50,000 PPV buys on HBO. A replay was shown later in the week and drew 378,000, also considered a weak number.

Super Lightweight - Crawford vs. Indongo

Terence Crawford 140 lbs beat Julius Indongo 139 lbs by KO at 1:38 in round 3 of 12

Date: 2017-08-19 

Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

On July 1, 2017, Top Rank announced that a light-welterweight unification fight between Crawford, and WBA (Unified) and IBF champion Julius Indongo was agreed upon to take place on August 19 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska lives on ESPN in US and Sky Sports in the UK. 

The projected unification of every major world title in boxing (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, The Ring, and lineal) will determine the light welterweight division's first undisputed champion since Kostya Tszyu in 2004, and the first time all the aforementioned titles have been at stake in a single fight since Bernard Hopkins vs. Jermain Taylor in 2005. Both fighters paid over $100,000 US dollars in sanctioning fees. Crawford entered the fight as a heavy favorite to win.

In front of a home crowd of 12,121, Crawford became the undisputed champion at light-welterweight after knocking out Indongo in round 3. The final punch was a well placed left hook to the right side of the body, which immediately dropped Indongo. Referee Jack Reiss counted to 10 and promptly called an end after 1 minute and 38 seconds. Indongo also touched the canvas during round 1, but the referee ruled it a slip. Additionally, Indongo was knocked down and received a count after a left hand from Crawford during round 2.

According to CompuBox stats, Crawford landed 26 of his 75 punches thrown (35%), while Indongo landed 13 of 74 thrown (18%). Both boxers earned an undisclosed 7-figure purse. Following the fight, Indongo stated, "When he hit me like that, my mind was gone" about Crawford's body shot. Crawford noted that he had yet to decide on the next step in his career, but there was speculation about him moving up to the welterweight division or defending his light-welterweight titles against Mikey Garcia. The card averaged 965,000 viewers on ESPN.

Mere days after the fight, the IBF ordered a fight between Crawford and their mandatory challenger, Sergey Lipinets. Lipinets was named Indongo's mandatory challenger in December 2016, but Indongo was given an exception to allow the unification fight with Crawford to happen. Lipinets stated that the IBF title was "stolen from him." As Crawford didn't plan to return to the ring before the IBF's deadline, he vacated the IBF title just 11 days after defeating Indongo. The IBF ordered Lipinets to face Akihiro Kondo for their vacant title.

On August 31, the WBA Championships Committee revealed that they had elevated Crawford to 'Super' champion. Article C18 of the WBA's rules stated that as Crawford holds all significant titles at light-welterweight, he could be promoted and deemed a 'Super' champion. The WBA, however, claimed to hold on to their policy of having only one champion per weight category and insisted an interim or regular title would not be created.

Welterweight - Crawford vs. Horn

When Horn successfully made a voluntary defense of his WBO welterweight title by stopping Gary Corcoran, this set up the fight between Crawford and Horn. Following his win, Horn was challenged to a big money fight at light-middleweight by 42-year-old Anthony Mundine, before eventually defending his WBO title against Crawford. Horn admitted his interest in the fight where he would see a purse of around $2 million with his trainer, Glenn Rushton, also very much interested in the Mundine fight. On January 10, 2018, it was confirmed that all terms had been agreed upon for Horn to defend the WBO title in a mandatory defense against Crawford, after renegotiating the purses. The fight was being slated for April 21, 2018, at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada. On January 17, Arum stated the fight would likely take place at Madison Square Garden as there was no availability in Las Vegas for the dates required. In February, Arum claimed that due to other boxing events taking place around New York in April, the Crawford vs. Horn bout would take place in Las Vegas instead.

On March 14, it was reported that the fight would be postponed after Crawford suffered a hand injury while sparring. The fight was rescheduled to take place on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada. It was reported on May 24 that Horn had been involved in a car accident involving three cars in Brisbane. However, Horn himself confirmed that he was not hurt and did not suffer any injuries. Speaking to a newspaper, he said, "No one was badly hurt, but it stunned me. Fortunately, I was in the car alone, and my wife Jo and baby Isabelle were home. The accident was a shock, but nothing is going to derail me from beating Terence Crawford. I'm very fit. I feel I'm going to peak right at fight time."

Crawford became a three-weight world champion in front of 8,112 fans in attendance after he eventually stopped Horn via technical knockout in round 9. At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had Crawford winning all the previous rounds. Horn lacked defense but kept coming forward, trying to look for an opening. Horn made the opening two rounds the most competitive with his aggressive style, but Crawford adapted and remained the busier fighter throughout, landing the most telling shots of the bout. Horn was eventually dropped for the first time in round 9 with an overhand left. After he got back up, Crawford landed a series of hard shots that caused referee Robert Byrd to stop the fight. The official time of the stoppage was 2 minutes and 33 seconds. After the bout, Crawford spoke about his welterweight debut, "As I told you all before, I'm strong. I was way stronger than him. You all kept telling me how strong he was, so I had to go and show you. I just had to get in the ring and prove it. You saw what I did in there. My power carried up, my physicality. Now I want all the champions at welterweight." Promoter Bob Arum highly praised Crawford and compared him to Sugar Ray Leonard. According to CompuBox stats, Crawford landed 155 of 367 of punches thrown (42%). This included 47 power shots that landed over the final two rounds. Horn, on the other hand, landed just 58 of 257 punches thrown (23%). Crawford earned a career-high $3 million purse, and Horn also made a career-high purse of $1.75 million.

Gervonta Davis

Professional Record of 21-0, two-time super featherweight world champion, having held the WBA title since 2018, and previously the IBF title in 2017.

Junior Lightweight - Davis vs. Pedraza

Jose Pedraza 129 lbs lost to Gervonta Davis 129 pounds by TKO at 2:36 in round 7 of 12 

Date: 2017-01-14 

Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA

On November 15, 2016, ESPN announced that Davis would challenge for the IBF junior lightweight title against undefeated José Pedraza (22–0, 12 KOs) on January 14, 2017, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Showtime. The fight would take place as an undercard fight to the super middleweight world title unification fight between James Degale and Badou Jack. The IBF granted Pedraza an exception to fight Davis, as he had a mandatory fight against British boxer Liam Walsh looming. Before the fight being announced, Mayweather Promotions matchmakers tried to make a deal for Davis to fight titleholder Jason Sosa Davis defeated Pedraza in a seventh-round knockout to win the IBF junior lightweight title.

After the fight, Davis said that he had studied the early career of his promoter and mentor, Floyd Mayweather Jr., to stay composed. He said, "I had a lot of experience from the amateur ranks, but I learned how to keep my composure. Floyd told me to stay calm, and I studied Floyd Mayweather videos when he was 'Pretty Boy.' My uppercut was my best shot, and it was landing all night. It felt really good to fight the way I did. I could take it and dish it out." Mayweather Jr. himself enthusiastically branded his protégé as the future of boxing.

For the fight, Davis earned $75,000 compared to Pedraza, who made the lions share of $225,000, in what was his third defense. At the time of stoppage, Davis was ahead 59–55 on all three judges scorecards. The bout took place on the undercard of the super-middleweight unification fight between James DeGale and Badou Jack and averaged 344,000 viewers.

Super featherweight - Davis vs. Cuellar 

Gervonta Davis 129 lbs beat Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar 129 lbs by TKO at 2:45 in round 3 of 12 

Date: 2018-04-21 

Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA

On November 15, 2017, Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, announced that Davis would be making his in-ring return in the first quarter of 2018 alongside stablemate Badou Jack. He also revealed that Davis would fight a high-level opponent. According to Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, Davis would remain at super featherweight and likely challenge for a world title in 2018. Gervonta Davis lost his IBF World super featherweight title in his last bout, as he failed to make the super featherweight limit.

On January 24, 2018, Showtime announced that Davis would next appear on television on the undercard of Broner vs. Vargas on April 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A day later, Ellerbe stated a deal was close to being reached for Davis to fight Australian former world champion and IBF #3 Billy Dib (43-4, 24 KOs, 2 NC) in what would be an IBF eliminator.

A purse bid, which was due to take place on January 25, was postponed to February 6. On February 21, it was reported by ESPN; the fight would not happen. Instead, it was stated Davis's likely opponent would be former featherweight champion Jesús Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs). On March 5, the fight was finalized for the vacant WBA (Regular) super featherweight title. Before the fight, Alberto Machado, the WBA (Super) Champion at the same weight class, was inexplicably downgraded to "Regular' Champion, and the Davis-Cuellar fight was upgraded to be for Machado's WBA (Super) super featherweight title.

In front of 13,964 in attendance, Davis knocked out Cuellar in round 3. Davis first knocked down Cuellar in round 2 courtesy of a left hook to the body and then put him down twice in round 3 to get the stoppage. Referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stopped the action at the 2:45 mark. Davis landed 49% of his power shots in the fight. Both boxers earned $350,000 apiece. After the fight, Davis stated he wanted to unify with the winner of Tevin Farmer vs. Billy Dib, which would be contested for the IBF belt, the same belt Davis was stripped off. The bout opened Showtime’s broadcast and averaged 460,000 viewers and peaked at 527,000 viewers.

Anthony Joshua 

Professional Record of 22-1, Previous WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO World Heavyweight Champion

Heavyweight - Joshua vs. Martin

Charles Martin 245 lbs lost to Anthony Joshua 244 pounds by KO at 1:32 in round 2 of 12 

Date: 2016-04-09 

Location: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom

In February 2016, it was announced that Joshua would face IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) on 9 April 2016 at the O2 Arena. Martin was making the first defense of the belt that he won after defeating Vyacheslav Glazkov for the vacant title in January 2016. Joshua set the pace in the first round and kept the southpaw Martin at bay before sending him to the canvas with a straight right hand in the second round. Martin got to his feet, only to be knocked down for a second time by a similar punch just moments later. This time Martin failed to beat the count after taking too long to get up, and the referee waved the fight off, with Joshua winning his first world title.

Martin was heavily criticized for his performance, and apparent lack of ambition to win the fight. Observers accused him of quitting early, feeling that he could have got up quicker and fought on. Martin later placed the blame on the pre-fight distractions, claiming that he was 'mentally not there.' At just 85 days, Martin's reign as IBF heavyweight champion was the second shortest in professional boxing history, with only Tony Tucker's 1987 reign being shorter.

"Charles Martin didn't move his head. He believed he had a good chin. He never got knocked down in the ring or sparring. I don't care who you are, if you get hit by someone 6'6" you are going to go down," noted ringside commentator David Haye,  who still hoped for the opportunity to fight Joshua. "I didn't see any tonight (weaknesses). I didn't see anything (I could use). The way I fight is completely different (from Martin). I relish the opportunity to fight someone like Martin. I and Anthony Joshua, I can't think of a bigger fight for boxing."

"Every fight it gets better and better and better. I've come to knock people out. Every heavyweight's got power; it's about speed and precision and staying focused. I told you I would come out and punish him, and this is the reward. I stayed tucked away in the gym. Keep on pushing supporting, following the sport.", said Anthony Joshua after the bout. "I'm very humble. Anyone's dreams are possible. Just follow your dreams."

Heavyweight - Joshua vs. Klitschko

Anthony Joshua 250 lbs beat Wladimir Klitschko 240 lbs by TKO at 2:25 in round 11 of 12 

Date: 2017-04-29 

Location: Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London, United Kingdom 

On 2 November 2016, the WBA agreed to sanction a unification bout between Joshua and Klitschko for the vacant WBA (Super) title, previously held by Tyson Fury. The WBA agreement was, if Joshua retained his belt against Eric Molina, the fight would take place on 29 April 2017, at Wembley Stadium in London.

After Joshua knocked out Molina in the third round, the Joshua vs. Klitschko fight was officially announced by Hearn in the ring. WBA president Gilberto J. Mendoza confirmed that the winner would have to face mandatory challenger Luis Ortiz next, with deadlines due to be set after the unification fight. A day later, the IBF announced the winner must fight their mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Because of this clashing with the WBA enforcing their mandatory, it was believed that either Joshua or Klitschko would have to vacate a title. In January 2017, Eddie Hearn announced that over 80,000 tickets had been sold, a new box office record, overtaking Carl Froch vs. George Groves II. He put a request in for 5,000 more tickets to be made available. It was reported that Joshua would earn in the region of £15 million for the fight. At the weigh-in, Klitschko, 41 at the time of the fight, weighed in at 240 and a quarter pounds, the lightest he had weighed since 2009. Joshua, 27, came in heavier at 250 pounds.

In front of a post-war record crowd of 90,000 in attendance, The fight generated 1.532 million PPV buys in the United Kingdom, setting a domestic  record and exceeding the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight.

Joshua won by TKO in a high-drama war that saw both men giving their all. They fought a close and cautious first four rounds. In the fifth, Joshua came out roaring and barraged Klitschko to the canvas. An angry Klitschko rose up and dominated Joshua for the remainder of the round, battering him and scoring his knockdown in round 6. The next few rounds were again cautious, both men wary of each other, until a reinvigorated Joshua attacked Klitschko in round 11, sending him to the canvas. Klitschko again rose, but Joshua knocked him down for a second time in the round, then sent a barrage of punches while Klitschko was against the ropes that made the referee stop the fight.  

At the time of stoppage, Joshua was ahead on two judges scorecards 96–93 and 95–93, and the third judge had Klitschko ahead 95–93. CompuBox stats showed that Joshua landed 107 of his 355 punches thrown (30%), and Klitschko landed 94 of 256 (37%). Joshua called out Fury in the post-fight interview, "Tyson Fury, where you at, baby? Come on -- that's what they want to see. I just want to fight everyone. I'm enjoying this right now." In the press conference after the fight, Joshua said he would have no issues with having another fight with Klitschko, "I don't mind fighting him again if he wants the rematch. Big respect to Wladimir for challenging the young lions of the division. It's up to him; I don't mind. As long as Rob thinks it's good, I'm good to go." Eddie Hearn said Joshua's next fight would likely take place at the end of the year, possibly at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

The fight averaged 659,000 viewers on Showtime in the United States. It was shown live, and the fight began around 5 pm. ET, and 2 pm. PT. Nielsen Media Research revealed the fight peaked at 687,000 viewers, which were during rounds five and six. This was an increase from Joshua's previous Showtime numbers that aired live during the late afternoon. The delayed tape-replay on HBO was watched by an average of 738,000 viewers and peaked at 890,000. In a press release, German TV channel RTL announced an average of 10.43 million viewers watched the fight. The whole card averaged 9.59 million viewers. This was higher than the 8.91 million that tuned in to watch Klitschko vs. Fury in 2015.

On 7 June 2017, the IBF granted Joshua an exemption for him to rematch Klitschko instead of fighting mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. At this point, it was not said that the rematch would take place. Klitschko said he needed time to review his situation before agreeing to a rematch. It was only weeks after the fight when Eddie Hearn filed the paperwork to the IBF to request the exemption to the mandatory defense. IBF explained that the rematch must take place no later than 2 December 2017, and the winner must fight Pulev next with no exemptions . On 2 August, Joshua revealed he would need to start a three-month training camp on 22 August, if he were to fight on 11 November, therefore hoping a fight with Klitschko would be finalized by then. However, on 3 August 2017, soon after the IBF granted an exemption, Klitschko announced on his website and social media channels that he was retiring from the sport of boxing. Thus, ending the possibility of a Joshua v Klitschko rematch.

Oleksandr Usyk 

Professional Record of 16-0, reigned as the undisputed cruiserweight champion from 2018 to March 2019, being the first boxer in history to hold all four major world championships—the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO titles—at cruiserweight.

Cruiserweight - Usyk vs. Głowacki 

Krzysztof Glowacki 199 lbs lost to Oleksandr Usyk 199 pounds by UD in round 12 of 12

Date: 2016-09-17

Location: Ergo Arena, Plac Dwóch Miast 1, 80-344 Gdańsk, Gdansk, Poland

In June 2016, it was announced that Usyk would challenge undefeated Polish boxer Krzysztof Głowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) for his WBO cruiserweight title on 17 September, at the Ergo Arena, Gdansk, Poland. It was reported that Usyk's trainer James Ali Bashir wanted to recruit former world champion Antonio Tarver as a sparring partner. It was said that Tarver not only requested too much money but also wanted to appear on the card as a co-featured main event. Głowacki weighed 199.3 pounds, with Usyk coming in slightly lighter at 198.75 pounds. The fight was shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. On the night, Usyk outpointed Głowacki after an exciting 12-round fight with the judges scoring it 119–109, 117–111, and 117–111 all in Usyk's favor. The decision win also ended Usyk's knockout streak. Usyk dominated the fight with his footwork, superior hand speed, and spearing jab, injuring Głowacki's eye early in the fight, causing a cut that continued to bleed for the remainder of the contest.

Cruiserweight - Usyk vs. Briedis 

Mairis Briedis 199 lbs lost to Oleksandr Usyk 199 pounds by MD in round 12 of 12

Date: 2018-01-27 

Location: Arena Riga, Riga, Latvia

Usyk would next fight Mairis Briedis (23–0, 18 KOs) following the latter's win over Perez via unanimous decision. In November 2017, it was reported the fight would take place on 27 January 2018 in Riga, Latvia, a week before Gassiev vs. Dorticos takes place. Arēna Rīga was confirmed as the location by Comosa's Chief Boxing Officer Kalle Sauerland. Usyk came in at 199.5 pounds, and Briedis weighed 199.1 pounds. Usyk moved on to the final of the tournament after defeating Briedis via majority decision.

With a high work rate, Usyk controlled most of the fight with his jab, applying pressure when needed. Briedis was credited with landing the more harder punches. The opening four rounds were closely contested, with Usyk receiving a cut over his right eye from an accidental clash of heads in the  third round. From round five, Usyk became busier and took control of the fight, although he was still hit with some hard shots to the head from Briedis. One judge scored the fight 114–114, while the remaining two judges scored the fight 115–113 in favor of Usyk, giving him the win. After the fight, Usyk stated it was the hardest fight of his career. According to CompuBox Stats, Usyk landed 212 of 848 punches thrown (25%), and Briedis was more accurate, landing 195 of his 579 thrown (33.7%). Usyk landed 40% of his power punches. Many boxers and pundits praised the fight.

Cruiserweight - Usyk vs. Gassiev  

Murat Gassiev 198 lbs lost to Oleksandr Usyk 198 pounds by UD in round 12 of 12   

Date: 2018-07-21 

Location: Olimpiyskiy, Moscow, Russia

After Usyk beat Briedis, it was announced in the post-fight press conference that the final would take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 11 May 2018. However, once Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) stopped Yunier Dorticos, setting up the final, the secretary-general of the Russian Boxing Federation, Umar Kremlev, stated that he would push forward in order to outbid Saudi Arabia and have the final of the tournament take place in Russia on the Day of Russian Boxing on 22 July. On 16 April, it was reported that Usyk had suffered an elbow injury during training, pushing the final to possibly June or July 2018.

On 18 June, at a press conference, Kremlev announced the final would take place on 21 July at the Olympic Stadium, Moscow, Russia. On 29 June, the final was officially confirmed. On the release date, 7,000 tickets  were sold. Both boxers came in at 198.45 pounds at the weigh-in.

Usyk quickly took control of the fight, rushing and using his "beautiful, commandeering jab." Despite facing a hostile hometown crowd, Usyk controlled the fight, not allowing Gassiev to use his power. Gassiev did not land a solid punch until the end of round 2. According to many reports, Usyk outclassed, outboxed, and dominated Gassiev. The result was never in question as Usyk was declared the winner by unanimous decision, with the judges’ scorecards reading 120–108, 119–109, and 119–109. 

Muhammad Ali's widow, Lonnie Ali, presented the trophy to Usyk. After the fight, both combatants were exemplars of good sportsmanship, embracing, with Gassiev saying, "I had the best opponent of my professional career ... today is Oleksandr's day". Usyk humbly adding "My team made me look like I looked in the ring. This is our victory". The win made Usyk the first-ever four-belt undisputed cruiserweight champion. Usyk dominated throughout, landing 252 of 939 thrown punches (27%), compared to Gassiev's 91 landed of 313 thrown (29%). Usyk used his superior conditioning to finish the fight, also increasing his output by landing 47 of 117 punches thrown in round 12. Usyk managed to withstand the 32 power body shots he received and continued to move around the ring.

When asked who he would like to fight next, Usyk said, "At this time, I have heard that Tony Bellew wants to fight the winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. I hope he will see me talking.... 'hey Tony Bellew, are you ready?' If he doesn't want to go down in weight, I will go up in weight for him. I will eat more spaghetti for my dinner!" Also, after the fight, Usyk said: "Olympic stadium, thanks. People, countrymen, and those who supported. Moscow 2018. Bang! Daddy's in the building!".

Vasiliy Lomachenko 

Professional Record of 14-1, currently a unified lightweight world champion, having held the WBA, WBO, and Ring magazine titles since 2018, and previously the WBO featherweight and junior lightweight titles between 2014 and 2018.

Featherweight - Lomachenko vs. Russell Jr 

Vasiliy Lomachenko 125 lbs beat Gary Allen Russell Jr 125 lbs by MD in round 12 of 12 

Date: 2014-06-21 

Location: StubHub Center, Carson, California, USA

Gary Russell Jr. 24-0-0 (14 KO's) vs. Vasyl Lomachenko 1-1-0 (1 KO) (Does not include 6-0 record from World Series of Boxing). The fight was the primary undercard bout for Robert Guerrero vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai. Lomachenko entered as the #10 featherweight in the world according to The Ring Magazine. Russell Jr., a 1.95-to-1 betting underdog, was unranked by the same publication. 

Super featherweight - Lomachenko vs. Martinez 

Roman Martinez 130 lbs lost to Vasiliy Lomachenko 129 pounds by KO at 1:09 in round 5 of 12 

Date: 2016-06-11 

Location: Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA

Following a third successful defense, Lomachenko, still the reigning WBO featherweight champion, decided to move up a weight to super featherweight to challenge Román 'Rocky' Martínez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) for his WBO super featherweight title on 11 June 2016 at the Madison Square Garden Theater. Martinez was coming off a draw against Orlando Salido in September 2015, after he controversially defeated him in their first fight in April 2015 for the WBO title. Lomachenko became the fastest boxer to win a world title in two weight divisions knocking out Martinez in the 5th round of the world title fight. Lomachenko dominated the fight from the start with superior footwork, hand speed, and slick punching from different angles.

According to CompuBox, Lomachenko out-landed Martinez 87 to 34. After the fight, Lomachenko called out Orlando Salido, "Hey Salido, I'm ready to fight you at any time, before the Vargas fight, I told him to win the fight, but I never told him I wasn't going to fight him if he didn't, so let's do it. I want to revenge Salido for my fans and give them a win over him." Lomachenko was paid $850,000 for the bout, at the time a career-high purse.

Lightweight - Lomachenko vs. Linares 

Jorge Linares 134 lbs lost to Vasiliy Lomachenko 134 pounds by TKO at 2:08 in round 10 of 12 

Date: 2018-05-12 

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA

On 30 January, Arum told ESPN that negotiations had begun in December 2017 for a fight between Lomachenko and WBA, The Ring Magazine lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) after speaking to Teiken Promotions, Linares' lead promoter, with the fight to take place on either 28 April or 12 May 2018. The fight would be the main event of an ESPN card. Arum was pushing for the fight to take place at Madison Square Garden on 12 May 2018. The reason behind the date was explained by Arum, "May 12th is an extraordinarily important date for ESPN programming. It's right in the middle of the basketball playoffs." Carl Moretti called Eric Gomez of Golden Boy, informing them of the date. Gomez stated they were happy with the fight. However, the date of 12 May was not a suitable date for them, as they already had plans for that date. HBO would likely air the pay-per-view replay of Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Álvarez rematch, along with a live bout.

On 17 February, Gomez stated the fight was not called off, and Arum would need to be more flexible with the date as Golden Boy accepted Arum's terms that the fight would take place in New York. On 13 March, Los Angeles Times confirmed that terms had been agreed between both sides. The agreement was reached after ESPN agreed to televise the fight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT so that it would broadcast before HBO's telecast on the same day. Madison Square Garden in New York City was confirmed as the venue. On 21 March, the fight was officially announced. WBO president Francisco Valcarcel told Lomachenko, regardless of the result, he would have ten days to decide on whether he would return to super featherweight and defend his WBO or vacate. Both boxers weighed in 134.6 pounds.

In front of 10,429 in attendance, Lomachenko survived a knockdown in round 6 to win via TKO in round 10 after a perfectly placed liver shot to claim the WBA (Super) and  The Ring lightweight titles. In doing so, he became the fastest fighter ever to win titles in 3 different weight classes (only 12 professional fights), shattering the previous record of 20 fights, which was held by Jeff Fenech. Lomachenko wore Linares down with his quick shots through the first nine rounds, before finishing the fight in round 10. Linares slowly beat the count but looked too hurt to continue.

Referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 8 seconds of round 10. The loss snapped Linares' 13-fight win streak. At the time of stoppage, two judges had each fighter ahead 86–84 on their respective scorecards, and the third judge Julie Lederman had it 85–85 even. After the fight, Lomachenko said, "It was a great fight. That right hand that knocked me down, it was a great punch. It happens. I prepared for the last few rounds, and my father and trainer Anatoly Lomachenko told me, 'You need to go to the body.' Linares is a great champion, and the fight was good for the fans and everybody."

Speaking of the knockout punch, Linares said it was 'perfectly landed.' De La Hoya also congratulated Arum on the fight and told Arum it was a good experience working together. According to CompuBox Stats, Linares landed 207 of 739 punches thrown (28%); this included 139 power punches landed, and a total amount of 77 body shots landed. Lomachenko landed 213 of 627 punches thrown (34%), with 112 jabs. For the fight, Linares was paid a career-high $1 million, with Lomachenko receiving a $1.2 million purse. The card averaged 1,024,00 viewers. The fight itself averaged 1,439,000 viewers and peaked at 1,749,000 viewers, making it the most-watched boxing fight on cable television in 2018. On 23 May, Lomachenko officially vacated his WBO super featherweight title.

Lightweight - Lomachenko vs. Pedraza

Vasiliy Lomachenko 134 lbs beat Jose Pedraza 134 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12

Date: 2018-12-08

Location: Madison Square Garden Theater, New York, New York, USA

On 30 January, Arum told ESPN that negotiations had begun in December 2017 for a fight between Lomachenko and WBA, The Ring Magazine lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) after speaking to Teiken Promotions, Linares' lead promoter, with the fight to take place on either 28 April or 12 May 2018. The fight would be the main event of an ESPN card. Arum was pushing for the fight to take place at Madison Square Garden on 12 May 2018. The reason behind the date was explained by Arum, "May 12th is an extraordinarily important date for ESPN programming. It's right in the middle of the basketball playoffs." Carl Moretti called Eric Gomez of Golden Boy, informing them of the date. Gomez stated they were happy with the fight. However, the date of 12 May was not a suitable date for them, as they already had plans for that date. HBO would likely air the pay-per-view replay of Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Álvarez rematch, along with a live bout.

Egis Klimas told The Boxing Beat on ESPN+, Lomachenko would make his ring return on 1 December. In the interview, he also stated it would likely be a unification fight against the winner of the Raymundo Beltran vs. José Pedraza bout, which was scheduled to be contested on 25 August. Pedraza (25-2, 12 KOs) defeated Beltran via unanimous decision, winning the WBO title and setting up a fight with Lomachenko. In September,  The Ring magazine announced the unification fight between Lomachenko and Pedraza would take place on 8 December 2018 at the Hulu Theatre in New York City.

For the first time as a professional, Lomachenko unified in a weight division as he beat Pedraza via unanimous decision to retain his WBA (Super) title and claim Pedraza's WBO lightweight title, before a sellout crowd of 5,312. Lomachenko coasted to victory with the three judges scoring the bout 119–107, 117–109, and 117–109 in his favor. The first half of the fight was a somewhat tentative and tactical affair with neither fighter making a statement. However, it was Lomachenko who was landing the cleaner and points scoring shots. By mid-fight, Lomachenko looked to have a solid lead on the cards, but the fight seemed closer in the ring.

It was during the championship rounds where the fight came alive. Round 10 was arguably Pedraza's best as he landed a hard right hand to Lomachenko's body. He followed up with a few more shots to the body. Round 11, which was the round of the fight, saw Lomachenko come out quick and land a total of 42 power shots, his busiest round of the fight. In the middle of the round, Lomachenko shook Pedraza following a left hand, which eventually followed with a right hand to the body, dropping Pedraza. Although he beat the count, Pedraza was dropped a second time with over 10 seconds to go following a left to the body. Again, Pedraza beat the count and survived the round. Pedraza used the final round to stay out of reach and take Lomachenko the 12 round distance. The fight ended Lomachenko's 8-fight stoppage streak, in which he saw four consecutive opponents retire on their stool in between rounds. 

According to CompuBox stats, Lomachenko landed 240 of 738 punches thrown (33%), and Pedraza landed a very low 111 of his 931 punches thrown (12%). 506 of Pedraza's shots thrown where jabs in which only 31 landed. Lomachenko landed 158 power punches throughout the fight.

In the post-fight interview, Lomachenko credited Pedraza as being a tough and tricky fighter, which is why he couldn't score the stoppage victory. He added, "It was my dream to unify titles. It was my next goal. I can now focus on the next chapter." Pedraza was happy with his performance and that he went "12 rounds with the best fighter in the world." He thought the fight was close up until around 11. Arum stated Lomachenko only wanted challenges going forward and would likely next fight on May 2019. The fight averaged 2,013,000 viewers, making it the second most-watched boxing match on American cable or network television in 2018. The fight peaked over 2.1 million viewers, and the entire ESPN telecast averaged 1,865,000 viewers. Lomachenko was guaranteed a purse of $1 million, rising to $2 million, and Pedraza was guaranteed $350,000, potentially earning closer to $1 million.

Lightweight - Lomachenko vs. Campbell

Vasiliy Lomachenko 134 lbs beat Luke Campbell 134 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12

Date: 2019-08-31

Location: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom

Lomachenko faced fellow 2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell on 31 August 2019, at The O2 Arena in London. Lomachenko retained the WBA, WBO and The Ring lightweight titles, and gained the vacant WBC lightweight title by defeating Campbell by unanimous decision. He was in fine form, winning by 119-108 on two judges' cards, and 118-109 on the other. Despite being a heavy underdog, Campbell started well and took the first round. Lomachenko soon found his groove, however, and almost had Campbell down in the 5th round but for the bell. Campbell took more shots in round 6 but fired back, and the fight remained competitive. Lomachenko knocked down Campbell in the 11th round after a series of body shots followed by a stiff jab. Campbell beat the count, and ultimately survived the round and the fight, receiving credit after the bout for his resilience. In his in-ring interview, Lomachenko called for a lightweight unification fight with the winner of Richard Commey vs. Teófimo López, who will contest for the IBF title in December.

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