The upcoming September 23 WBO heavyweight title fight between 25-year-old defending titlist Joseph Parker and 22-year-old challenger Hughie Fury may be far from an elite-level showdown, but it could very well make a big impact on the future of the heavyweight division.
With Anthony Joshua becoming the “next big thing” in the division and a small roster of big men, such as Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz, and Alexander Povetkin, serving as his list of immediate, high-end challengers, the top of the division seems pretty set at the moment. However, come this time next year, new challengers and new challenges will be needed. And that’s why the world needs to be watching a WBO title fight that would otherwise be fairly irrelevant in the big picture.
It says a lot that sportsbook odds for the Joseph Parker-Hughie Fury heavyweight title fight are virtually even at the moment. It speaks to the absolute parity in boxing’s glamour division when one gets below the top three or four names.
New Zealand’s Parker is an entertaining action fighter with good power and an aggressive mindset, who could become a true threat for Joshua and the other top heavyweights with just a bit more seasoning.
The UK’s Fury, however, appears to have a slightly lower ceiling than Parker in terms of development. Tyson Fury’s younger cousin is big, but not especially strong or athletically gifted. He has scored some solid wins over second and third-tier opposition, but it remains to be seen if he’ll ever be ready to step up to an elite level in the sport.
Parker-Fury will be a compelling bout, but the reality is that the winner must use this upcoming fight as a developmental tool or he will be stuck in that second tier of big men, regardless of whether or not he holds a paper world title.
Below Parker and Fury, the heavyweight division parity continues with no true emerging superstar talent, but lots of solid, entertaining possibilities that could make for solid and entertaining bouts.
Fighters such as Jarrell Miller, Andy Ruiz Jr., Bryant Jennings, Dillian Whyte, and Lucas Browne could be mixed and matched against one another to produce any number of quality fights. None of these names, though, are true elites.
But this is kind of the way an old school boxing world used to work.
The next great heavyweight will have to emerge from this mass of contenders by fighting his way to the front of the line. And, hopefully, he will have developed a better skill set and sharper mindset via theses tough challenges along his route to the heavyweight main stage.
No matter who emerges, though, it will still be a tough task to remove Joshua from the division’s top spot. “AJ” is also still developing, becoming sharper and more confident with each passing fight. It could also very well be the case that one of the current top challengers manages to upset the apple cart to derail Joshua’s drive to legend status.
But, even in a worst case scenario, having so much parity in the division means plenty of good fight action for fans who have been hungry for a more compelling heavyweight division.
This push towards the future starts with Parker-Fury on September 23 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.