Winning a world title is never easy in the sport of boxing, but sometimes, fighters can somewhat luck into one. The history books are littered with championship runs that were beyond unlikely to happen.
In 1978, Leon Spinks pulled off one of the biggest upsets in history by defeating Muhammad Ali via split decision. That was an anomaly. He would not only lose the immediate rematch, but also 16 more matches throughout his career.
Frank Bruno in the 90s and 80s had the sort of physique that would make you question why he wasn’t in a bodybuilding competition. He may have had the look of a champion, but his reign as one was anything but impressive.
The list of shaky champions in boxing history can stretch a mile long, but how about we look at some of the champions of today. It isn’t enough that a great fighter has a world title, but it also matters who he has fought and how he has responded when adversity hits.
Here’s our list of the four best championship reigns of today.
4. Jermell Charlo
WBC Jr. Middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) took an expected loss to Tony Harrison late last year. It was disputed, questionable and eyebrow raising, but there was nothing he could do.
Charlo took the loss on the chin, but in the immediate rematch, he landed his money shots on Harrison and got him out of there in the 11th round.
When you combine his comeback win over Harrison with victories over former titleholder Austin Trout and his first-round destruction of 2016 ESPN Prospect of the Year Erickson Erickson Lubin, Charlo has quietly put together a very good championship reign.
3. Errol Spence Jr.
The pressure that was on unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.’s (26-0, 21 KOs) shoulders from the moment he left the 2012 Olympics was enormous. As they say, pressure bursts pipes, but in the case of Spence Jr. they make diamonds as well.
He hasn’t had a very long career, but it’s been spectacular already. Since winning the IBF title in 2017 over Kell Brook, Spence Jr. has picked up some underrated wins. Lamont Peterson wasn’t nearly the fighter he once was when Spence Jr. got his hands on him. And Carlos Ocampo should have never been in there with him in the first place.
But outside of those expected wins, his shutout victory over Mikey Garcia needs to be appreciated. This notion that Mikey was moving up two weight classes just isn’t true.
He was already a champion at 140 pounds, and his name was synonymous with every credible pound-for-pound list in the world. Not many were anticipating him to pull off the upset, but he didn’t win a single round. It was simply one-way traffic all night.
There’s no need to go in depth about Spence Jr’s. victory over Shawn Porter as it speaks for itself.
It hasn’t been a very long title reign, but it’s been a dominant one for Spence Jr.
2. Miguel Berchelt
Ever since Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) knocked out former titleholder Francisco Vargas in 2017, he’s been running through the competition.
Not only did he beat Vargas twice, Jason Sosa and Miguel Roman, but he did so before the final bell. Former titlist Takashi Miura not only lost in his 2017 contest against Berchelt, but the perpetual contender was sent into retirement soon after.
Before COVID-19 decimated the entire boxing schedule, Berchelt was on course to face another former world champion in Oscar Valdez. If he finds himself on the winning end of that contest as well, then he’ll vault up to No. 1 on this list.
The Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) slander needs to stop. The criticism of the unified Heavyweight champion has been nonstop, and it doesn’t make sense.
Every single one of his title defenses has been against good-to-very-good opponents. An undefeated Dominic Breazeale, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin have all come up short against Joshua. And with the exception of Parker, all of those aforementioned names lost via knockout.
A loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. sullied Joshua’s name and reputation a bit. But he picked himself up off the deck and convincingly won the rematch. While fighters such as Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury normally get ranked higher, it’s Anthony Joshua who should be given more credit for both the level of competition he’s faced, and the consistency he’s shown.