The green belt is the most superior of all boxing belts. It is the property of the WBC and of course the pride of the United States’ World Boxing Council.
Without WBC, no unified champion can become an undisputed champion. The other belts include the WBA, IBF and WBO.
Americans have dominated the list of the undisputed championship until British Lennox Lewis came to challenge the status quo, by breaking down some of the fiercest contenders like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield to win the title.
Lewis also scaled the hurdles of politics behind the title, using his skills and heart to do so.
Twenty three years after he became the undisputed, Lewis’ curse is still following the America. US’ only hope is the depleted Deontay Wilder who had politically kept the green belt for years, fighting lesser quality opponents until British Tyson Fury challenged and beat him twice in their trilogy to take away the green belt.
Even in their first match, Fury punished Wilder but politics robbed him of the green belt. The Gypsy King did the last two fights in style, knocking the Bronze Bomber down and out to keep the WBC belt.
Fury had since retired without becoming the undisputed. One thing can lure him back to the ring; money and title. There is no doubt that Fury has his eyes on the undisputed title. He has the ability to clinch it against either of the current unified champion, Oleksandr Usyk or former unified champion, Anthony Joshua.
These two will fight this month and the winner may face Fury if he decides to come back. If it happens, then the world will birth a new undisputed champion that will not be an American but a Briton or Ukrainian.
America is the headquarters of boxing and it has always played great politics to produce the undisputed champion but there was a Lewis who showed class in his era to get it
It was not easy. He faced political obstacles. Going down memory lane, by 24 this September it will be 28 years that Oliver McCall knocked out Lennox Lewis on his way to the top.
McCall’s victory is one of the two defeats in Lewis career; the second is Hasim Rahaman. His only draw was in 1999 against Evander Holyfield in a controversial manner.
In both defeats and draw, Lewis was in control but a stray punch had knocked him down against McCall and Rahaman. He never recovered.
That is how dangerous heavyweight division is, the better boxer doesn’t win all the time. It is a division that is filled with tricks, power and “politics”.
Lewis said that his two defeats and one draw, which he later avenged taught him the politics of boxing. Nevertheless he has remained the last undisputed heavyweight champion till date.
I will say here that Lewis, a Briton, had put a lot more than an average American to reach that level. His two defeats and one draw came from Americans whom he believed were not in his class.
On his way to the top, I agree with Lewis that a referee helped McCall to victory in 1994. The memory of how Lewis actually beat the counts and was ready to continue lingers but the referee waved for the stoppage of the fight and forcefully pulled out the teeth guard from Lewis mouth. Politics at play.
Against Rahaman, it was clear that overconfidence killed Lewis. It was a match he was not supposed to lose at all. This happened in South Africa during Nelson Mandela’s time. In the rematch as predicted by Mandela, Lewis knocked out Rahaman in round four with a big right hand.
Winning all the belts, including the most prestigious, Green belt, WBC isn’t a joke. Green belt is currently residing in the United Kingdom with Tyson Fury while the other three, IBF, WBO and WBA are in Ukraine with Oleksandr Usyk.
Almost 23 years after Lewis had become the undisputed, the boxing world is yet to see another wise man to hold these four belts, not even Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder.
How did Lewis get there?
The judges decisions of the 1999 Lewis/Holyfield first match was a travesty. It was a clear robbery to retain the green belt in the USA after Riddick Bowe had thrashed all the belts just to duck Lewis.
Both had met at the amateur level, precisely at the Olympics where Lewis won the Gold and Bowe, Silver medal.
With Bowe bowing out, Lewis became an automatic WBC holder without fighting anyone. To become the undisputed champion, he must fight a unified champion, Evander Holyfield.
Lewis had to fight Holyfield twice in 1999 to clinch those belts and he did it against a very dangerous the Real Deal.
It was not until he scaled these hurdles that American boxing Mafia gave him his due respect. Lewis enjoyed this support in his match against Ray Mercer, one of the most talented but underrated American pugilist .
For me, Mercer beat Lewis but judges gave victory to the Briton who had paid his dues as he climbed the ladder of legends.
Lewis, a boxing hall of Famer, is undoubtedly one of the five most intelligent heavyweight boxers of all time, after Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Rocky Marciano and George Foreman.
He retired after his fight against Vitali Klitschko. Lewis’ tactics were still there but age had begun to catch up on him.
He was slow against Klitschko and would have lost the fight but being a Lion in the ring, he used his uppercuts very well to damage the Ukrainian so badly that the referee had to stop the fight.
He reigns till today as the last Undisputed Champion standing. It is obvious that America is bent on producing the next undisputed champion with its politics in the last few years, however there are no many talents to do this magic for it.
At a time, the politics favoured Anthony Joshua. Americans wanted him to stage his fight in the slaughter house, the US, perhaps they could own him and push him to the undisputed. Joshua disappointed the cabal with his loss to Mexican Andy Ruiz and instead of going back there, our brother went to Saudi Arabia to reclaim his unified title.
Joshua has since lost the respect the Americans have for him and I don’t think the Americans have any respect for Usyk. Of course they have developed so much love for Fury but the Gypsy King is retired.
Who will become the next Undisputed Champion?