Tyson Fury: People's champion but not lineal champion?
Joshua, owner of 3 of boxing's 4 belts, had fired back at Fury, the RING Maagzine (proclaimed lineal) champion who insists he's the rightful owner of all of the belts.
“I never lost those belts, I had to vacate them for mental health problems. They’re my belts."
“How can you claim to be a champion when you haven’t beat the champion?”
Not quite, Mr. Fury.
Yes, Tyson Fury won the lineal heavyweight crown by defeating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Subsequently, however, he was inactive for 2 1/2 years and even announced his retirement via Twitter during the time.
Finally. he returned in early 2018 proclaiming to be boxing's real and legitimate (or lineal) heavyweight champion, even though RING Magazine stripped him of its title prior to his comeback.
For starters, he publicly retired and retiring is considered a form of relinquishment.
LinealBoxingChampions.com. correctly states:
When a Lineal Champion formally and publicly announces his retirement, the division’s title becomes vacant – a good example of this was when Rocky Marciano held a short press conference in 1956 and told the world:
“Gentlemen, I would like to announce my retirement from boxing.”
His announcement was clear and there was no misunderstanding. The Rock was done, thus paving the way for the two top contenders, Floyd Patterson and Archie Moore, to fight for the vacated lineal belt.
Secondly, a lineal champion shouldn't be allowed to sit on his title for a lengthy period without defending it against top opponents or at all, nor without any plan to defend it. So yes, RING Magazine was well within its right to strip Fury who, at the time, had been inactive for a year and offered no official plan to return.
So, let's say Tyson Fury's retirement announcement shouldn't have been taken seriously because he was high.
Using that logic, a 29 year old lineal champion can retire and still lay claim to 'lineal champion status' at age 80 if he stays inactive and doesn't formally retire.
Again, Fury won the lineal title fair and square and has not lost to another man. He's 5-0-1 since lifting the crown from Klitschko. Moreover, many believed he edged WBC Champion Deontay Wilder in their first fight despite the draw verdict rendered last December. And given Wilder's high status as a top 3 undefeated heavyweight,Fury's subsequent win over Deontay in their rematch could certainly be used to try to further the former's 'lineal' claim.
So, perhaps Tyson Fury should be considered the unofficial lineal heavyweight champion of the world. He more than proved his mettle against Wilder and is unbeaten so he deserves an elevation in stature and prominence.
However, because Fury took way too much time off after winning the title, his lineal claim can be justifiably disputed because another fighter has 3 of the 4 belts and has also defeated every opponent he's faced.
It's not Joshua's fault Fury had 'mental health problems' and went on a 2 1/2 year hiatus from the sport.
There's only one way to settle matters.... And it's not in a court room nor via public debate or incessant smack talk.
Neither Fury nor Joshua can lay claim to lineal champion status. Even though AJ owns 75 percent of the recognized organizational titles, Fury defeated Klitschko, the previous lineal champion, is unbeaten since and is actively fighting.
And should Wilder upset Fury in July, he, too, would have to defeat the winner of AJ vs Pulev to claim legitimate lineal champion status.
The heavyweight division is in dire need of a round robin between Fury, Wilder and Joshua to settle matters.
Until Fury (or Wilder) defeats the winner of Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev, neither should be placed in the same lineal category as Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Jack Johnson, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.