The heavyweight unification clash between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker in Cardiff earlier this month was one of the most eagerly anticipated bouts of recent years. A massive television audience tuned in to watch the first meeting of undefeated heavyweight champions since 1987 and witnessed Joshua win a points decision against the New Zealander, bringing together the IBF, IBO, and WBO heavyweight titles.
The Joshua versus Parker fight was just the latest in a string of high-profile boxing encounters in recent months that has seen an upsurge of interest in the sport, with millions of boxing and non-boxing fans following the action and taking their chances to wager on the outcome – so which boxers have captured the public imagination and can claim to be the world’s best?
The heavyweight division is the best place to start, and Anthony Joshua is the man to beat. He announced his arrival on the boxing scene with an Olympic gold and has continued to cut a swathe through the heavyweight ranks, winning all 20 of his fights up until his bout with Parker by a knockout. Blessed with awesome power and a solid technique, Joshua has almost single-handedly dragged the heavyweight division back into the spotlight.
Joshua’s next fight is likely to be against the reigning WBF champion, Deontay Wilder. The Bronze Bomber became the first American to hold a world heavyweight champion title in nine years when he claimed the belt back in 2015, and like Joshua, he has won all but one of his fights by a knockout. Their eventual meeting, presumably later in 2018, could be a classic.
Down the weight scale, Chris Eubank Jr, the son of the former two-weight world champion, has been building a big reputation, winning 26 of his 28 fights, and his bruising battle with George Groves in February was one of the best fights of 2018 so far.
Eubank Jr had previously fought at middleweight, where his only loss had come at the hands of Billy Joe Saunders, who has risen through the division ranks to rate among the world’s best. The Englishman had a glittering amateur career and is the current WBO middleweight champion – a belt he has held since 2015. He is set to defend his title against Martin Murray in June this year, but if he comes through that fight, it will surely not be long before he tries to take a crack at probably the best boxer in the world right now.
Gennady Golovkin is the WBO, IBO, and IBF middleweight champion, and up until his controversial drawn bout with Canelo Álvarez last year, had a perfect 37-0 record, including a streak of 23 knockouts between 2008 and 2017. In 388 fights, he has never been knocked out or knocked down, and he will be a firm favorite to win the rematch if it takes place. With a possible fight against Saunders later in the year, 2018 promises to be a bumper year of top-class action for boxing fans.