Boxing history has an uncanny habit of throwing-up giant-killings to shock the most astute students of the sweet science, and must heed as a warning for Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, and Deontay Wilder if they do not fight each other soon.
The trio are all set to fight different opponents next before any potential blockbuster is discussed, and fans must hope they do not fall foul of upsets which has littered the heavyweight division since its inception. In 1892, John Sullivan was heralded as the superstar of the sport having been crowned the first heavyweight champion under the Queensbury rules of boxing.
He went into a fight against James Corbett as a heavy favourite, but despite the huge height and reach advantage which the champion held, Corbett’s lateral movement and superior footwork was enough to cause a surprise KO victory in the 21st round.
Similarly, in 1926, Gene Tunney shocked the boxing fraternity to out-box Jack Dempsey and rip the heavyweight crown in front of 120,000 at the Sesquicentennial Stadium, Philadelphia.
Arguably the biggest danger for Joshua, Fury and Wilder though is making the same mistake as other talented champions and overlooking the fighter in-front of them. In 1978, Muhammad Ali took his eye off a seven-fight professional challenger in Leon Spinks and came unstuck, whilst Lennox Lewis, chasing a showdown against Mike Tyson, paid little attention to the unknown Hasim Rahman and was brutally stopped inside five-rounds in 2001.
Buster Douglas’ knockout victory over Mike Tyson 17-years ago – a bout which many claim to be the greatest upset in heavyweight history – might be the most poignant warning sign for the current stars.
Tyson, the self-proclaimed ‘baddest man on the planet’, was set to face Evander Holyfield after Douglas in 1990 for a reported $22 million – the largest purse for any fighter at the time, and clearly ignored the threat of the rank outsider.
What transpired would go down in sporting folklore as the Ohio fighter, motivated by the death of his mother, claimed a dramatic stoppage victory to the amazement of all around.
History, therefore, serves as a warning for Joshua, Fury and Wilder, who must all ensure they endure no slip-ups and fight each other to cement their own individual legacies in the glamourous division beyond this era.