Ali, Foreman, Tyson & undisputed heavyweight champions of black origin

Ali, Foreman, Tyson & undisputed heavyweight champions of black origin

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will face each other in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, May 18 with four heavyweight titles from WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF on the line.

The four heavyweight titles will be on display at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh as the world awaits the coronation of the first heavyweight champion since 1999.

A boxer who holds the titles from the four boxing governing bodies becomes an undisputed boxing champion while a unified champion is a boxer who has belts from two or more boxing governing bodies, and not the four major titles of the division.

There have been 23 undisputed heavyweight champions since the unification of the National Boxing Association (NBA) and the New York State Athletic World Heavyweight Championship (NYSAC) titles in 1922.

Afrosport recalls the boxing legends of black origin who etched their names in the history of the sport as undisputed heavyweight champions.

Floyd Patterson:

Nicknamed the Gentleman of boxing, Patterson was first crowned as undisputed heavyweight champion at the age of 21 on November 20, 1956 and ended on June 26, 1959 with the NYSAC and NBA titles.

His second reign as undisputed champion started June 20, 1960 till September 25, 1962.

Sonny Liston:

Nicknamed the Big Bear, he knocked out Patterson in the first round of their heavweight clash to become the new undisputed heavyweight champion on Setepmber 25, 1962.

Liston became the inaugural WBC heavyweight champion in July 1963 to extend his undisputed reign till February 25, 1964 when he lost to Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali:

Nicknamed the Greatest, Ali emerged as undisputed heavyweight champion on three separate occasions and it started when he upstaged Liston for the world heavyweight belt in February 1964 as an underdog at age 22.

Ali’s first reign as heavyweight champion ended September 1964 but he bounced back to clinch the WBC and WBA titles on February 6, 1967 till April 28, 1967.

After almost seven years, Ali reclaimed the undisputed heavyweight titles in Kinshasa on October 30, 1974 in the fight tagged Rumble in Jungle against George Foreman and he held the titles till 1978.

Joe Frazier:

Nicknamed the Smokin Joe, he was widely known for being the first boxer to beat Muhammad Ali and he became an undisputed heavyweight champion between February 1970 to January 1973.

Frazier memorably stunned Ali in a heavyweight clash tagged Fight of the Century in 1971 but he bowed to Ali in a non-title fight in 1975.


George Foreman:

‘Big George’ emerged as the next undisputed heavyweight champion with a second-round knockout win over Frazier in January 1973 and he ruled for over a year before losing to Ali in their October 1974 fight that took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Leon Spinks:

Spinks, at the age of 24, shocked a 35-year-old Muhammad Ali with a split decision win to become an undisputed heavyweight champion for just a month from February 1978 to March 1978.


Mike Tyson:

‘Iron Mike’ was the first heavyweight boxer to hold WBA, WBC and IBF titles at the same time and he unified them in succession. Tyson reigned as undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990 before suffering an upset against James ‘Buster’ Douglas in Tokyo.


James ‘Buster’ Douglas:

Buster entered the February 10, 1990 fight at the Tokyo Dome as an underdog but he created one of biggest upsets in boxing history by knocking out the then-undefeated Tyson for the first time his career to be undisputed heavyweight champion

Douglas’ reign only lasted for eight months in 1990.


Evander Holyfield:

Nicknamed the Real Deal, Holyfield is the only four-time world heavyweight champion to date and he became the undisputed heavyweight champion from October 1990 to November 1992 with the WVC, WBA and IBF in his hands.


Riddick Rowe

Three years after turning professional, Bowe became an undisputed heavyweight champion by defeating Evander HolyField to claim the WBC, WBA and IBF titles on November 13, 1992.

In December 1992, Bowe gave up his WBC title in protest of a scheduled fight against Lennox Lewis and he later lost his WBA and IBF titles in a rematch against Holyfield in 1993.


Lennox Lewis

‘The Lion’ is the last boxer to be an undisputed heavyweight champion in 2000. He unified the WBC title he claimed in 1997 with Holyfield’s WBA and IBF titles in a bout that took place on November 13, 1999.

However, Lewis was stripped of his WBA title on April 29, 2000 after failing to face his mandatory challenger and he suffered a similar fate with the IBF title in 2002 for the same reason.




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