For too long, the main protagonists in the heavyweight division have ducked and dived potential fights with one another which has caused boxing’s most explosive industry to grind to a halt. At least, competition between the division’s highest-ranked fighters has been largely non-existent, which has led to a string of underwhelming match-ups that have done very little to establish who the best boxer of this current generation is.
Mercifully, that is all about to change in 2022 for the world’s best heavyweight fighters as they finally go toe-to-toe with each other, as the upcoming schedule for this year reveals. So, what could the landscape look like in the heavyweight division come the end of 2022?
Dillian Whyte gets his long-awaited opportunity that could change his life
The answer to this question largely comes down to how successful Tyson Fury is in 2022. To start with, the Englishman will defend his WBC title against Dillian Whyte in April during a showdown at Wembley that many believe Fury will win. Admittedly, the odds are overwhelming in Fury’s favor but irrespective of that, the point remains that this is an incredibly significant fight in the division given how long Whyte has had to wait to get his chance despite being the mandatory challenger for over 1700 days.
Unsurprisingly, Whyte has been less than impressed at having to stand by during the most productive days of his career as the heavyweight industry carries on without him and, because of this, the 34-year-old has, rightly or wrongly, stirred up a narrative about Fury running from him. In short, the boxing world needs closure on this particular chapter and if Fury is the best of his generation, then he has to tick Whyte off the list of fighters he has beaten.
Anthony Joshua faces a future of obscurity
Anthony Joshua has arrived at a pivotal moment in his career as he approaches a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk. It wouldn't be unfair to say that after once being tipped as potentially the greatest heavyweight of any generation, Joshua’s career has subsequently stalled and gone into a tailspin after losing to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019 and then Usyk in 2021.
This ultimately means that the he simply has to win when he faces off against the Ukrainian in what will arguably be the most high-profile match of 2022 out of any combat sport. Granted, there will be those that argue that Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje’s bout at UFC 274 is bigger and the latest UFC betting odds do tend to back that claim up. Indeed, Oliveira, as of the 6th of April, is at odds of just -164 to win this fight that is, in reality, too close to call. Of course, the eyes of fight fans from around the globe will be on the Footprint Center in Phoenix when these two titans of the Octagon do battle but then again you have to take into consideration how many hundreds of millions of people, not exclusively boxing fans, will be watching Usyk try and defend his world title against Joshua.
Final ritual. pic.twitter.com/keQU8iVI7J— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) September 25, 2021
Joyce and Joseph do battle behind the scenes
Relatively speaking, a potential fight between Joe Joyce and Joseph Parker wouldn’t compete in terms of pay-per-view numbers compared to the two bouts previously alluded to. The outcome, however, would be critical in determining who either Fury or Usyk would face at the back end of 2022 - should they both win their respective matches. This is where the status quo and subplots of this bout begin to get quite interesting. Yes, Parker has obvious limitations which were exposed despite the latest boxing results showing two recent victories against an aging Derek Chisora, but Joyce, despite being 35, is still in the infancy of his career having only started boxing professionally in late 2017. Since then, Joyce has racked up a professional record of 13 fights with the London-born boxer having won 12 of them by way of knockout. Put another way, Joyce would, in all likelihood, comfortably beat an off-the-pace Parker if the pair met over the course of 2022.
Essentially, Joyce has been flying well under the radar and not commanding much attention in the most up-to-date boxing news, but this is the story fight fans should be keeping an eye on given that the 35-year-old has the required skillset to climb to the summit of world boxing.
Heavyweight boxing will undergo significant change over the next 12 months as current challengers fall away to be replaced by new faces. Needless to say, it's about time, and let the dust-ups commence.