Hellraiser Boxing - Tyson Fury has been stripped of his Ring magazine heavyweight belt. But, as Chris Waddams explains, that doesn't mean what many people seem to think it does.
Hellraiser Boxing News | Tyson Fury & The Ring Belt: Clearing Up The Lineal Title Debate
Tyson Fury has been stripped of his Ring magazine heavyweight belt. But, as Chris Waddams explains, that doesn't mean what many people seem to think it does.

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Tyson Fury & The Ring Belt: Clearing Up The Lineal Title Debate

by Chris Waddams

The Ring magazine has stripped Tyson Fury of their title, leaving the belt vacant for Anthony Joshua/ Joseph Parker/ Deontay Wilder/ Luis Ortiz to fight for it at some point this year. Although it will not be on the line for Joshua vs Parker in March. This has had a lot of people on social media saying, “Fury won’t be able to proclaim that he’s the lineal champion”. But that statement is wrong. Tyson Fury is still the Lineal Heavyweight Champion, and here’s why.

The difference between the Lineal title and the Ring Belt

Let me be abundantly clear up front, The Ring belt and the Lineal Champion are not the same thing.

The Lineal Championship isn’t something tangible, it’s a title given to the number one guy. The Ring Magazine belt is seen by many as the physical embodiment of the Lineal Championship but there are those who haven’t seen it as that since its return in 2002. There are even a few cases where the Lineal Champion and the Ring Champion were two separate fighters (See Roy Jones Jnr being awarded the Light-Heavyweight Ring Belt in 2002 when the belt was reintroduced, but the Lineal Champion at the time was Dariusz Michalczewski and Joe Calzaghe winning the Ring Light-Heavyweight Belt from Bernard Hopkins back in 2008 when the Lineal champion was Zsolt Erdei)

Regardless of these few differences over the years since 2002, the Ring belt was seen as the physical embodiment of the lineal championship by the majority, but in 2012 the Ring decided that they would strip their champions if they failed to meet their criteria. Since 2012 there are SIX ways that you can lose the Ring title. They are:

  1. Lose a fight in the weight class they hold the belt
  2. Permanently move to another weight class
  3. Not schedule a fight in any weight class for 18 months
  4. Not schedule a fight in the weight class they hold the belt in for 18 months
  5. Not fighting a top 5 contender in any weight class for two years
  6. Retire

Whereas the lineal title can be lost in the following ways:

  1. Lose a fight in the weight class that they are the lineal champion
  2. Permanently move to a new weight class
  3. Retire

The Ring magazine for many lost its position as the physical embodiment of the lineal title when it made these changes in 2012 and then subsequently went on to strip both Adonis Stevenson and Guillermo Rigondeaux of their titles.

In the case of a fighter retiring, they are still the last Lineal Champion until a new champion can be crowned. So in Tyson Fury’s case, he could have retired 100 times since the Wladimir Klitschko fight and come back as the Lineal champion IF a new Lineal Champ had not been crowned by that time.

Will AJ be the new King?

How do we crown a new Lineal Champion if Fury doesn’t return?

We all know the usual way of winning the Lineal title is by beating the former Lineal champion - the guy who beat the guy. But if a Lineal champion retires or moves to a new weight class, there are a few ways in which a new lineal champion can be crowned. They are:

  • When all 4 main governing body belts are unified (Note: I was listening to a podcast the other day and they said that the WBO was only recognised as a big 4 in 2007, but the WBA and WBC recognised it from 2001 and 2004 respectively and the IBF from 2006. Before 2001 you only needed to hold the WBA WBC and IBF – like Lennox Lewis did)
  • If a fighter wins all the governing body belts without losing a fight i.e. Being stripped of a title or two before they’ve won all 4.
  • It has also been awarded in the past if and when a fighter unifies the majority of the governing body belts.
  • The status of lineal champion can also be given if the two top guys in the division fight (this is generally a unification bout of at least 2 of the 4 big belts)

These are the 4 ways I’ve have found that a new Lineal Champion has been crowned in a few different weight divisions.

So if Fury doesn’t return or have a fight scheduled before Joshua and Parker fight, don’t be surprised to hear people calling for the winner to be crowned the new Lineal Champion. And if the winner was to fight the winner of Deontay Wilder Luis Ortiz before Fury was to return, there would be even more calling for the overall winner to be named as the new Lineal Champion.

What would happen if Fury was to return after we have a undisputed unified Heavyweight champion?

The honest truth: I don’t know.

If it takes Tyson Fury another 12 months before he returns (which is the minimum amount of time I think it will take for the winner of Joshua Parker to fight the winner of Wilder Ortiz) then you really couldn’t complain about that man being seen as the new Lineal Champion because it would have hypothetically been over 3 years since Fury had fought. But in that case there would be a Team Fury camp and a Team Joshua/Parker/Wilder/Ortiz camp. And until both men fight the Lineal Heavyweight championship would have a big cloud over it.

Or could Wilder and AJ share the linel title?

TWO Lineal Heavyweight Champions?

No… no that won’t happen. There can only be one Lineal Heavyweight champion. But the problem arises because the Lineal title isn’t given by a governing body or organisation. It’s generally given by us the fans. When we all say “yeah, he is THE champion at that weight”. But as fans we all have our own way of deciding who that person is. That’s why the situation that could arise at Heavyweight is a unique one. But if you want my view on it it’s this:

Tyson Fury is the Lineal Heavyweight champion. If he returns to the ring before all the 4 main governing body belts have been unified (or if one fighter has won them all but been stripped by one or two due to politics) he will still be the Lineal Champion. If all 4 main governing body belts have been unified (or if one fighter has won them all but been stripped by one or two due to politics) before Fury returns, we will have a new Lineal Heavyweight Champion.

Hopefully the above situation doesn’t happen. Hopefully Fury returns soon and we have some clarity. Even though the Ring Magazine stripped Fury of their title, he is the Lineal Heavyweight Champion of the world.

Posted: 1st Feb 2018


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