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The last American heavyweight champion

Steven LynchMay 7, 2014
James Toney beat John Ruiz for he WBA heavyweight title in April 2005 - but was later disqualified for failing a drugs test © Getty Images
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The world heavyweight title used to be an American preserve. But who was the last USA boxer to hold a version of it? asked Paul Donaldson

You're right in thinking that it's been some time since an American boxer laid claim to any of the main four heavyweight belts. The last time, in fact, was June 2007 - when the holder Shannon Briggs lost the WBO title to the Russian southpaw Sultan Ibragimov.

Another Russian, Oleg Maskaev, relieved Hasim Rahman of the WBC heavyweight title in August 2006, four months after Wladimir Klitschko beat Chris Byrd to take the IBF title (which he still holds, along with the WBA and WBO versions now).

The last American to hold the WBA title was John Ruiz, although this one is slightly complicated: Ruiz lost to another American, James Toney, in April 2005, but Toney was subsequently disqualified after failing a drugs test. Ruiz lost the next WBA title fight too, to the giant Russian Nikolay Valuev.

All this may become outdated in a couple of weeks' time, when the Californian Chris Arreola takes on the Haiti-born Canadian, Bermane Stiverne, for the WBC title vacated by Vitali Klitschko last year.

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