Ranking the Best Undisputed Heavyweight Boxing Champions of All Time

Incredibly, only five men have ever been crowned as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion in the WBA-WBC-IBF era, which dates back to 1983.

But on May 18, a new name will be added to that exclusive club. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will lock horns in Saudi Arabia, and the winner will be handed all of the premier belts in the heavyweight division – the first undisputed champion in the top weight since Lennox Lewis was crowned in November 1999.

So who will Fury or Usyk emulate as the unanimous ruler of the division? And who is the best undisputed champion in heavyweight boxing history?

#1 – Mike Tyson

One of the most fascinating things about the clash between the kings of the heavyweight ranks is just how evenly matched they are.

The current Fury vs Usyk betting odds have the Ukrainian as a marginal favorite at -125, although those latest boxing odds have witnessed a change – for the original fight date, it was actually Fury who was the market protagonist at that -125 mark.

The Gypsy King suffered a huge cut to his eye in training for the planned fight in February, which forced the rescheduling to May – now, Usyk is considered the most likely winner by bettors.

There was no such mystery during Mike Tyson’s reign as undisputed heavyweight champion – he simply bludgeoned everyone in his path, barely breaking sweat in his two-and-a-half-year reign of terror.

Iron Mike claimed all the gold in August 1987, defending his belts successfully on six occasions – including TKO victories over the likes of Larry Holmes and Frank Bruno.

Tyson would eventually be usurped in one of the biggest shocks in boxing history – James ‘Buster’ Douglas dethroning the champion with a knockout that nobody saw coming in February 1990.

#2 – Lennox Lewis

An Olympic gold medallist, Lennox Lewis showcased his outstanding talent in the amateur ranks.

But after turning professional in June 1989, it took the Brit less than four years to win the WBC heavyweight belt – and just six more to claim the undisputed tag.

He did so by defeating Evander Holyfield in March 1999, outpointing the American great in Las Vegas.

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Curiously, Lewis never defended his undisputed gold – the WBA belt was stripped away from him after he failed to agree terms for a fight with WBA mandatory John Ruiz in 2000.

#3 – Evander Holyfield

The only four-time heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield will rightly be forever remembered as a legend of the sweet science.

He dominated Douglas to be crowned undisputed champ in October 1990, reigning for more than two years before running into the next fighter on this list.

Although best remembered by casual boxing fans as the victim of Mike Tyson’s earbite in June 1997, Holyfield’s career was far more than that – a two-weight undisputed champion who was still fighting for titles more than two decades after his in-ring debut.

#4 – Riddick Bowe

It was Riddick Bowe who ended the undisputed run of Holyfield in 1992.

His reign as the unrivalled champion was curious, in that he didn’t get a chance to defend his belts – Bowe bizarrely threw the WBC belt into the trash after he was forced to negotiate a bout with Lewis.

Bowe would later lose two of these three titles in a rematch with Holyfield in November 1993 – the only defeat of his career.

#5 – Buster Douglas

Sportsbook odds of +4200 gave Douglas an implied probability of just 2.3% of handing Tyson his first defeat back in 1990.

The man known as ‘Buster’ had already lost four times in his career, and most assumed he would simply be padding for Tyson’s resumé.

But a famous knockout victory took Douglas to heights even he probably doubted were possible – he lost next time out to Holyfield, and never again fought for heavyweight gold.

Even so, this is some stellar company that either Fury or Usyk will be keeping!

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