Opinion | Jun 08 2018

Is Tyson Fury the lineal heavyweight champion of the world?

And what IS the lineal heavyweight championship of the world? Matt Christie investigates
lineal heavyweight championship
Tyson-Fury-with-IBF-belt  |  Action Images/Lee Smith

LINEAL heavyweight champion of the world. You’ve probably heard it too many times already. Tyson Fury will tell you he is the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. But is he really? And what exactly is the lineal heavyweight champion of the world?

Basically, and in an ideal world with some idealistic thinking, the lineal championship – the odd retirement withstanding – can be traced directly back to the days of John L. Sullivan, the old bareknuckle king who ruled long before governing bodies came along and made things complicated.

In the first world heavyweight title fight fought under Queensbury Rules in 1892, Sullivan – ageing and adapting to the concept of boxing gloves – lost to James J. Corbett who in turn was vanquished by Bob Fitzsimmons who was then beaten by James J. Jeffries. And so on and so on and so on. The man who beat the man who beat the man. Keep reeling off champions for long enough, the names of those truly regarded as the man, and eventually you will end up at Tyson Fury.