Cruiserweight World/Lineal Champions (200lbs)
The cruiserweight division had its first champion when Marvin Camel won the WBC title on 31 March 1980, but it would not be until Carlos De Leon had relieved him of his belt on 25 November 1980 and had signed up for a rematch that the lineal title would be on the line. Coming into the fight with 31 wins and two defeats on his slate, the hard-punching De Leon, who had a good array of shots to call upon, was recognised as the top-rated man in the division by the Boxing News, with Camel placed at number two. As a member of the Flathead Indian tribe, Camel, a southpaw who had 40 wins, two draws and three defeats on his record since starting out in June 1973, could always be relied upon to put in a solid performance.
Carlos De Leon (24/2/1982 w rsc 7 Marvin Camel – 27/6/1982)
The next man up for De Leon would be S. T. Gordon, an aggressive, hard-punching fighter with 17 wins and five defeats on his record. At least three of those defeats came at the hands of men he was giving away a lot of weight to, one of those being Gerry Cooney, while only two of his victims had lasted the distance. The fight that got him a shot at the lineal title had come in his most recent contest when defending his NABF title, Yaqui Lopez being stopped inside seven rounds at the MGM Grand Hotel, Reno, Nevada on 24 July.
S. T. Gordon (27/6/1982 w rsc 2 Carlos De Leon – 17/7/1983)
De Leon would have an opportunity to regain his laurels when matched to challenge his conquerer, who had made a successful title defence against Jesse Burnett. Since his defeat at the hands of Gordon, De Leon, with 34 wins and three defeats on his slate, had beaten Ivy Brown and Leon Spinks and was confident that he would not make same mistakes again.
Carlos De Leon (17/7/1983 w pts 12 S. T. Gordon – 6/6/1985)
Having regained his title, De Leon made successful defences against Yaqui Lopez, Anthony Davis and Bash Ali prior to meeting Alfonzo Ratliff. Ratliff would be bringing to the ring 19 (15 inside the distance) wins and two defeats when giving away weight to Tim Witherspoon and Pinklon Thomas. As a fighter who carried a powerful punch in both hands and used his added reach well he was a threat.
Alfonzo Ratliff (6/6/1985 w pts 12 Carlos De Leon – 21/9/1985)
Ratliffe's first lineal title challenger would be the rugged Bernard Benton, who was a bull of a fighter and always working hard, especially to the body. With a record of 17 wins, one draw and three defeats, although losing his USBA title to Boone Pultz in his most recent contest, he had beaten Pierre Coetzer and Ricky Parkey.
Bernard Benton (21/9/1985 w pts 12 Alfonzo Ratliff – 22/3/1986)
Carlos De Leon was looking to become a three-time WBC champion at the weight when selected as Benton's first lineal title challenger. However, De Leon would need to stick to his boxing in order to wear the latter down.
Carlos De Leon (22/3/1986 w pts 12 Bernard Benton – 9/4/1988)
After making defences against Michael Greer, Angelo Rottoli and Jose Maria Flores Burlon, De Leon was matched against Evander Holyfield. With just 17 winning fights behind him, the 1984 Olympic Games bronze medallist had won the WBA title when beating Dwight Muhammad Qawi in his 12th pro fight on 12 July 1986, and had made a successful defence against Henry Tillman before depriving Ricky Parkey of his IBF belt. Having turned back challenges by Ossie Ocasio and Qawi, Holyfield, a willing box-fighter who could both give and take, was ready to step up against De Leon in a contest that would involve the world title.
Evander Holyfield (9/4/1988 w rsc 8 Carlos De Leon – 9/12/1988)
Holyfield relinquished his world title on 9 December without making a single defence in order to campaign as a heavyweight. Several years passed by, and It was only when the top-rated Orlin Norris defended his WBA title against the number four man in The Ring ratings, Arthur Williams, that a contest involved the lineal title. Norris, who had won the vacant WBA title when knocking out Marcelo Figueroa inside six rounds on 6 November 1993, had turned pro in June 1996 and had 39 wins, three losses and one no contest on his tab. A former national Golden Gloves champion, Norris, the brother of Terry, who had both skill and power, had beaten Renaldo Snipes, Jesse Ferguson, Greg Page, Oliver McCall, Tony Willis and Anthony Hembrick, while Williams, a rough, tough customer, had a record of 21 wins, one draw and one defeat that was quickly avenged, and had recently defeated Dwight Muhammad Qawi and Jeff Lampkin.
Orlin Norris (4/3/1994 w pts 12 Arthur Williams – 22/7/1995)
Further to winning the lineal title, Norris had gone on to defend against Arthur Williams, James Heath, Adolpho Washington before making a further defence against Nate Miller. Miller was a hard-punching fighter, who although beaten by Al Cole twice had defeated Bert Cooper, Tyrone Booze, Michael Greer and Dwight Muhammad Qawi in a career that showed 25 (21 inside the distance) wins and four defeats.
Nate Miller (22/7/1995 w co 8 Orlin Norris – 8/11/1997)
Miller made successful lineal title defences against Reinaldo Gimenez, Brian LaSpada, James Heath and Alexander Gurov before taking on the former undefeated WBC light heavyweight champion, Fabrice Tiozzo, the brother of Christophe. With only one defeat, to Virgil Hill, in a 38-fight record, the fifth-ranked Tiozzo had beaten Ramzi Hassan, Eddy Smulders, Mike McCallum, Eric Lucas, Leslie Stewart and Mike Peak.
Fabrice Tiozzo (8/11/1997 w pts 12 Nate Miller – 9/12/2000)
Tiozzo made successful lineal title defences against Terry Ray, Ezequiel Piaxao, Ken Murphy and Valeriy Vykhor before lining up a meeting with Virgil Hill, a former two-time WBA light heavyweight champion with a record of 45 wins and three defeats. A pro since 1984, nicknamed ‘Quicksilver’ for his speed that was coupled with solid punching ability, Hill had not boxed for over 18 months and this would be only his third fight at the weight.
Virgil Hill (9/12/2000 w rsc 1 Fabrice Tiozzo – 23/2/2002)
Hill remained inactive until it was announced that he would be making his first lineal title defence against Jean-Marc Mormeck, an accurate, solid-punching fighter who was ranked at number one by the WBA but outside the top ten according to The Ring magazine. With 26 wins and two defeats on his record, he had beaten Valeriy Vykhor inside the distance, along with 17 others, and carried a threat.
Jean-Marc Mormeck (23/2/2002 w rtd 8 Virgil Hill – 7/1/2006)
After picking up the lineal title and defending successfully against Dale Brown, Alexander Gurov, Hill and Wayne Braithwaite, Mormeck would next defend against O’Neil Bell. Bell, who had won the vacant IBF title when beating Dale Brown on 20 May 2005 and then made a successful defence against Sebastiaan Rothmann, was a lanky, loose-limbed boxer with an awkward leaning style and solid punch-power with 25 (23 inside the distance) wins, one defeat and one technical draw on his record.
O’Neil Bell (7/1/2006 w rsc 10 Jean Mark Mormeck – 17/3/2007)
Bell forfeited his IBF title on 31 March for not fulfilling his mandatory requirements when pulling out of a prospective defence against Steve Cunningham. He would eventually give Mormeck a chance to get his old titles back in his first defence of the lineal title.
Jean-Marc Mormeck (17/3/2007 w pts 12 O'Neil Bell – 10/11/2007)
Mormeck next signed up for a defence of his lineal title against the former undefeated British and European champion, David Haye. With victories over Arthur Williams, Glen Kelly, Alexander Gurov and Giacobbe Fragomeni, and a former silver medallist from the 2001 amateur World Championships, Haye had only lost to Carl Thompson as a pro in 20 contests while winning 18 by the short route.
David Haye (10/11/2007 w rsc 7 Jean-Mark Mormeck – 22/7/2008)
Having made a successful lineal title defence against Enzo Maccarinelli, Haye decided to move up to the heavyweight division. He had already relinquished the WBC and WBA titles on 12 May 2008 before relinquishing the WBO title on 22 July. Further to Haye moving on, when the top-ranked Steve Cunningham put his IBF title on the line against Tomasz Adamek, rated at number two in the world, the contest would also involve the lineal title. Tall and slick, with a long reach and 21 wins in 22 contests, Cunningham had won the IBF title on 26 May 2007 when gaining revenge for a defeat suffered at the hands of Krzysztof Wlodarczyk before going on to make a successful defence against Marco Huck. A former WBC light heavyweight champion, Adamek, who was an upright, tough fighter with a good jab and punching power in his right hand, had 35 wins and one defeat against Chad Dawson on his slate, and had earned his high ranking when stopping O’Neil Bell inside eight rounds of an eliminator.
Tomasz Adamek (11/12/2008 w pts 12 Steve Cunningham – 18/10/2009)
Following successful defences against Johnathon Banks and Troy Ross, Adamek relinquished the IBF and lineal titles on 18 October, having decided to fight in the heavyweight division. Following that, Steve Cunningham (22 wins and two defeats) and Bobby Gunn were signed up to find a new IBF champion. Since losing his IBF title to Adamek, Cunningham had beaten Wayne Braithwaite to become the top-ranking fighter in The Ring magazine, and with Ross rated at number five in the same magazine the contest would also involve the vacant lineal title. A strong southpaw, Ross had lost just once in 24 fights, but was largely untested at this level despite his high ranking.
Steve Cunningham (5/6/2010 w rsc 4 Troy Ross – 1/10/2011)
After making a successful defence against Enad Licina, Cunningham’s second defence of the lineal title would be against the unrated Yoan Pablo Hernandez, a Cuban-born southpaw who had been the undefeated WBA ‘interim’ champion. With 24 wins and one defeat on his record, he had beaten Thomas Hansvoll, Mohamed Azzaoui, Enad Licina, Ali Ismailov and Steve Herelius, and was seen as a more than capable box-fighter.
Yoan Pablo Hernandez (1/10/2011 w tdec 6 Steve Cunningham – 24/11/2015)
Having successfully defended against Cunningham, Troy Ross, Alexander Alekseev and Firat Arslan, Hernandez eventually forfeited lineal recognition on 24 November 2015 for not meeting a top-five-rated opponent for well over three years and thought to have retired. The lineal title was next contested when the WBA champion, Denis Lebedev, met Victor Emilio Ramirez, the IBF title holder. Ramirez, who would be coming to the ring with 22 wins, one draw, two defeats and one no contest on his tab, had been handed the IBF title on 24 November 2015 after Yoan Pablo Hernandez had been stripped, but had failed to get nothing better than a draw when making his first defence against Ovill McKenzie. A southpaw, Lebedev had also been handed his WBA title on 30 October 2012 after Guillermo Jones had refused to meet him, but eventually lost it to the same man after successfully defending against Santander Silgado. However, as Jones failed a drug test in the aftermath, Lebedev was again handed the title, on 17 October 2013, making successful defences against Pawel Kolodziej, Youri Kayembre Kalenga and Lateef Kayode. Prior to meeting Ramirez, the hard-punching Lebedev had 28 wins, one draw and one no contest from 30 fights.
Denis Lebedev (21/5/2016 w rsc 2 Victor Emilio Ramirez – 3/12/2016)
Lebedev's first defence of the lineal title would be against the big-hitting Murat Gassiev, who had 23 (17 inside the distance) wins and one no contest on his record. Although he had beaten no big names, the tenth-ranked Gassiev was seen as a real comer to a division bursting with talent.
Murat Gassiev (3/12/2016 w pts 12 Denis Lebedev – 21/7/2018)
After successfully defended the lineal title against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Yuniel Dorticos, Gassiev’s would next meet the WBC and WBO champion, Oleksandr Usyk. Uysk was a hard-punching southpaw with 14 (11 inside the distance) wins since going pro in November 2013 after winning gold medals at the 2008 European Games, 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games. Having won the WBO title when beating Krzyzstof Glowacki on 17 September 2016, Usyk went on to make successful defences against Thabiso Mchunu, Michael Hunter Jnr and Marco Huck before adding Mairis Briedis’ WBC title to his collection on 27 January 2018. At 6’3”, Usyk was recognised as a man who good use of his reach when banging in straight rights and lefts. Uysk v Gassiev came about due to both men reaching the final of the World Boxing Super Series and would involve the world title with all four belts on the line.
Oleksandr Usyk (21/7/2018 w pts 12 Murat Gassiev – 15/6/2019)
Following a successful defence of the world title against Tony Bellew, Uysk relinquished the WBA belt on 27 March 2019 when asked to defend against Denis Lebedev, before handing in the WBC/WBO belts on 6 June and the IBF title on 15 June due to his aspirations at the higher weight. Thus, the world title was automatically vacated on the latter date. The coming final of the World Boxing Super Series between The Ring’s top-rated Mairis Briedis, the WBO champion, and the IBF’s Yuniel Dorticos, ranked at number three, would also carry the vacant WBC and lineal titles.