British Heavyweight Highlights

By: Ben Wiltshire
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The heavyweight division of boxing has always been known for having a British force that were challenging for and winning World titles.

The most famous of these British heavyweights was Lennox Lewis, who was champion of the world for 10 years and went into the history books as the most successful British heavyweight of all time.

When he retired in 2004, the world of boxing was waiting for the next British heavyweight star to rise from Lewis’ ashes and dominate the division once again.

However 8 years on, that dominant British heavyweight has yet to emerge.

Many have come and gone during this period including Danny Williams, who became British and Commonwealth Champion in 2000 and showed a very promising future.

He lost a fight for the European Title but came back to defeat an injured and ageing Mike Tyson, allowing him to have a shot at the World Crown against Vitali Klitschko.

Williams fought bravely but Klitschko outclassed and stopped him in the 8th round and resulted in the Englishman only fighting domestically in his final years of his career and he retired in 2011.

Many boxers have promised to become Champion of the World and not even come close. Audley Harrison made the perfect impression by becoming the first British superheavyweight Olympic champion in 2000 at Sydney.

10 years into his Professional career Harrison became European Champion and was given the opportunity to fight fellow Brit David Haye for the WBA belt in June 2010.

In an embarrassing display, Audley was stopped in the third round by Haye and statistics show that he only landed one punch in the fight.

Since 2004 there has only been one British heavyweight that has tasted the glory of being a World Champion.

After destroying the Cruiserweight Division, David Haye decided to rise to the Heavyweight challenge in 2008 and impressed with his punch power and fast hand speed.

Haye fought the giant Nikolai Valuev for the WBA title in 2008 in Germany and became a World Champion after a fantastic display to win by a unanimous points decision.

After defending his belt against David Ruiz and Audley Harrison, Haye landed his dream shot to unify the IBF, WBO, WBA and The Ring heavyweight titles against Vladimir Klitschko in 2011.

Haye put in a poor performance against the Ukranian and slumped to a unanimous points decision to lose his WBA title. Haye blamed the loss on a broken little toe and shortly after announced he would not be renewing his boxing license.

After rumours of a title shot with Vitali Klitschko, Haye got into a brawl with fellow Briton Dereck Chisora at the post fight conference following Chisora’s defeat to Vitali earlier this year.

The brawl reflected on how British heavyweight boxing had once been such a respected element in the sport and was now considered a joke, which Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente showed when he said: “with the bad experience we’ve had with British fighters we will now look for other countries”.

So now the question beckons: are there fighters that can drag British heavyweight boxing from the gutter and get it back to the top?

There are three potential fighters that could re-ignite the division and get Britain back within the belts.

Liverpool’s David Price has shown real potential to become a heavyweight champion since turning pro in 2009. His punch power and long reach has made him a dangerous opponent to anyone he faces.

He recently defeated Sam Sexton to become British and Commonwealth Champion and will fight Audley Harrison later this year.

Another hot prospect is Tyson Fury, who was crowned WBO Intercontinental champion after a technical knockout win over American Vinny Maddalone last month.

Fury is only 23 years old and has attracted attention with his classy style of boxing and his achievements at such a young age.

Many believed that Fury should have fought Price for the British title, instead Fury decided to vacate that title and fight to become Irish champion.

Jane Couch MBE who became the first woman to be granted a boxing license in England and former five times World Champion believes that David Price is the man to beat: “David is a very hot prospect.

“He is a very good fighter and seems to be ahead of the rest. A fight between Price and Fury is the one that the fans want to see.”

It seems that both David Price and Tyson Fury have got masses of potential that could take them to the top of the heavyweight division, but like many British heavyweights before it is easy to have all that potential to be wasted.

However despite his brawl with Dereck Chisora, David Haye cannot be ruled out as a fighter that could still bring British heavyweight boxing back to the big stage.

His win over Chisora last month showed he still has the punch power to stop any fighter in his way, but it could be seen that he would want to walk into a fight with the Klitschko’s without earning his shot.

There is real opportunity for the British heavyweight division as there are three fighters that could take it back to the top.

Tyson Fury and David are both in the position where they are earning their shot at a World title whilst David Haye could potentially walk back into a fight with one of the Klitschko brothers because his ability to promote and make money.

If British Boxing wants to be the victor in the end, Haye should earn his shot by fighting either Fury or Price and show the world that British heavyweight boxing is still a huge force in the division.

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