When Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk clash in a heavyweight boxing match at the Jeddah Super Dome, they will be in contention for the vacant The Ring title alongside the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts.
The last holder of the title was one of her potential future opponents, Tyson Fury, who has held the honor twice.
Fury regained the ring belt when he recorded the first of his two wins over Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in February 2020.
What will Joshua or Usyk achieve by winning the belt? Which fighters have made it through boxing history? The sports news check it out
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What’s the name of the ring?
Fury and his father John have frequently and convincingly explained the reasons why they proudly believe the towering Mancunian is rightfully an outright champion thanks to his points victory over his immediate predecessor Wladimir Klitschko at Dusseldorf in 2015.
Her view is not without arguments from other boxing obsessives. Some interpret the word ruler in this context to mean an unbroken strip of defenses. Fury’s journey has been far more complicated, including a nearly three-year absence from the sport after beating Klitschko.
The title Ring denotes the man considered the outright champion by the American boxing magazine for which the belt is named.
Fans and commentators have long criticized the number of titles available in boxing. Nathaniel Fleischer, the editor and co-founder of The Ring Magazine, attempted to end the confusion by identifying the true champion through monthly rankings and belts for much of the 20th century.
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The Ring introduced policy changes in the 1990s and 2012. That meant the title had less to do with parentage, allowing the leading contenders in the rankings to challenge the number one. This led to further debate and controversy, but the belt still exists and is respected today.
Why is the ring belt free?
Fury won Klitschko’s WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring titles in Germany only to vacate them in October 2016 during an ongoing investigation into anti-doping and medical issues. The champion lost his boxing license the following day.
More than two years after his high-profile absence from the ring, Fury was given a deadline of January 31, 2018 by The Ring to defend his title by facing his mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov.
When that fight failed, Fury, who was recovering from mental health and addiction issues at the time, was stripped of the title. He issued a public apology to The Ring, thanked them for their patience and claimed he had set a new precedent by separating the belt from the direct route for the first time since 1922.
Now the fighter known as ‘The Gypsy King’ has retired and vacated the belt – although many believe his retirement will not be permanent and Fury has said we will return for £500m ($590m).
“I never heard of the direct title until he talked about it.” – @BronzeBomber
“If you don’t wanna win mine, I’ll just win yours!” – @Tyson_Fury
– FOX Sports: PBC (@PBConFOX) January 25, 2020
Which previous champions have worn the ring belt?
Part of Fury’s pride in its claim to being an outright champion comes from the legacy of fighters who have held the title and claimed to be outright champions, which is quite a combative hall of fame.
From early champions like Jack Johnson and Rocky Marciano to later greats like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, legendary athletes are considered direct champions.
There were more complications along the way: Ali suffered a rare stripping when his boxing license was revoked and fighters like Lennox Lewis could be considered to have broken the chain by retiring as champions.
Then there are the defending champions, whose reigns have been fleeting but no less worthy, including James “Buster” Douglas – the unheralded challenger who became the undisputed champion for less than nine months in 1990 by overpowering Tyson.