Get ready for an unpleasant phase of multiple heavyweight champions.
During Wladimir Klitschko’s nine-year run as heavyweight titleholder, the part-time Hollywood resident consolidated the majority of sanctioning body belts. But Klitschko’s loss against Tyson Fury two weeks ago began a probable splintering of recognized champions, unseen since the mid-1980s, when the likes of James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Tony Tubbs and the late Trevor Berbick won heavyweight crowns.
Days after Fury’s victory over Klitschko, which rewarded Fury with immediate championship recognition by three of the four major sanctioning bodies, the International Boxing Federation stripped Fury of his title. Fury plans a direct rematch with Klitschko instead of facing the IBF’s mandatory challenger, Russia’s Vyacheslav Glazkov.
As a result, the sport soon will feature three heavyweight champions — Fury, World Boxing Council titleholder Deontay Wilder and the winner of the now vacant IBF title bout between Glazkov, a Fort Lauderdale resident, and Charles Martin.
For all the knocks directed toward Klitschko regarding his fighting style, the native of Ukraine at least spared boxing fans of the multiple-champions scenario.
And, as unappreciated as it might seem with many fans, Klitschko’s lengthy reign will link him to an era in the division.
Wilder ended the United States’ eight-year drought of heavyweight champions with his title-winning performance in January and is intent on cleansing the division of multiple champions.
The native of Alabama wants to follow previous clean-up trails set by Klitschko and Mike Tyson, who made fight fans soon forget the brief and nondescript heavyweight reigns associated with 10 champions of the mid-1980s.
“I’m looking forward to being the next undisputed heavyweight champion and the most active heavyweight champion in history,” said Wilder, who will make the third defense of his belt against Artuz Szpilka on Jan. 16 in New York.
Before Wilder aspires to unify belts, many heavyweight hopefuls look to carve a piece of the fractured titles. On Saturday night, Miami resident Luis Ortiz will have a pivotal opportunity in his six-year career to contend for a championship.
Ortiz (23-0, 20 KOs) will face Bryant Jennings (19-1, 10 KOs) for a second-tier world title at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.
“Every fight is important, but this is the most important of my career so far,” Ortiz said in a recent conference call. “Of course, I have what it takes to beat competitors like Fury and Wilder. With training and determination, I believe that I will be unstoppable.”
A native of Cuba, Ortiz and five of his compatriots will be busy in December.
Miami residents Yunieski Gonzalez and Yuriorkis Gamboa will fight on the same card as Ortiz. In his first bout since losing a widely disputed decision against Jean Pascal five months ago, Gonzalez will face Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in a scheduled 10-round light-heavyweight bout. Gamboa will fight Hylon Williams Jr. in a scheduled 10-round lightweight match.
Former junior-lightweight champion Rances Barthelemy will attempt to win a second-division title on Friday. Barthelemy will fight Denis Shafikov for the vacant IBF lightweight belt in Las Vegas.
Late Saturday, light-heavyweight Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) scored a fifth-round TKO of Karo Murat in Glendale, California. Cruiserweight Yuner Dorticos (19-0, 18 KOs) stopped Fulgencio Zuñiga in two rounds Friday in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
▪ Dominican Republic native and Miami resident Yenifel Vicente (28-3-2, 20 KOs) knocked out countryman Juan Dominguez (19-1) in the third round of their junior-featherweight bout Tuesday in Trenton, New Jersey. The knockout’s impact required a brief hospital stay for Dominguez.
Middleweight Steve Rolls (13-0, 7 KOs) scored a fourth-round TKO over Miami resident and previously unbeaten Steed Woodall on Friday night in Houston. A native of England, Woodall is now 9-1.
Friday (9 p.m., Spike TV): Rances Barthelemy vs. Denis Shafikov, 12, for the vacant IBF lightweight title.
Saturday (10:15 p.m., HBO): Luis Ortiz vs. Bryant Jennings, 12, heavyweights; Nicholas Walters vs. Jason Sosa, 10, junior lightweights.
Saturday (1 a.m., HBO Latino): Yunieski Gonzalez vs. Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, 10, light heavyweights.