Tyson Fury ranking: Sanctioning bodies, RING and BoxRec (Jan 2020)
(Main image courtesy of Sky Sports)
There are rumors Wilder vs Fury 2 will be contested for the prestigious RING Magazine Heavyweight title (in addition to Wilder's WBC strap). If it's true, the winner will be the real and legitimate lineal heavyweight champion, joining the bloodline of predecessors such as Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Wladimir Klitschko.
But, isn't Fury already the legitimate lineal heavyweight champion?
Answer: It depends.
Tyson Fury won the lineal heavyweight crown by defeating Wladimir Klitschko, the previous RING Magazine / lineal champion, in 2015. Subsequently, he was inactive for 2 1/2 years and even halfheartedly announced his retirement during that time. He finally 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 (for inactivity) prior to his comeback.
Let's not forget, for years RING Magazine, the official, unofficial standard-bearer of lineages, has existed for that very reason - to acknowledge real champions over belt-holders and rank contenders without the biases we often see with the sanctioning bodies.
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.
But, even the afforementioned argument can be debated.
Heading into 2020, let's take a look at Tyson Fury's rankings by the relevant boxing organizations and publications.
As we see below, Fury is ranked Nos. 2, 2 and 6 by the WBO, WBC and IBF, respectively.
But he's unranked in the top 15 by the WBA... And that's exactly what's wrong with governing bodies and why there's a need for RING Magazine's rankings.
That is indefensible.
Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk surged to No. 1 in the WBO ranking despite not having a meaningful fight at heavyweight yet. He deserves to be in the top 5 for his accomplishments a division lower but placing him above Fury, an undefeated former champion, is a bit extreme.
WBC, who also lists Fury at No.2, has slated Dillian Whyte in the top position, and that's culpable. Whyte's lone loss was to Joshua several years ago and Dillian has been on tear ever since.
IBF lists Fury at No. 5 (because Joshua regained the organization's title from Andy Ruiz a few weeks ago). What is 'Vacant?' Is that slated for the highest bidder? Agit Kabayel and Adam Kownacki are unbeaten but it's seems senseless to rank them above Fury, an undefeated fighter with many more bouts who boasts a win over Klitschko and arguably should have gotten the nod in his draw with Wilder in 2018.
As for the WBA, I addressed that nonsense above.
Image courtesy of Box.live
BoxRec's rankings are based on an algorithm and are generally more accurate than the sanctioning bodies. Fury is ranked No. 4 behind Joshua, Wilder and Usyk. That's realistic.
Although Tyson should be above Usyk, the latter is a consensus top 10 pound-for-pound fighter so we'll cut them some slack for that.
And lastly, the RING Magazine heavyweight ranking is below. For decades, RING champions and top 10 contenders have been widely recognized by intelligent fight fans as the 'real and legit' titleholders and contenders thereby making the RING Magazine belt the most prestigious of them all.
The champion slot is vacant, as it should be. Fury is ranked No.1 while Wilder, Joshua, Whyte, Ortiz and Ruiz are Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 respectively. Not surprisingly, this ranking is the most defensible of them all.
Where is Tyson Fury on your personal ranking?