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The Heavyweight Paradigm

Wladimir Klitschko
Wladimir Klitschko

All heavyweight conversations today seemingly start and end with the Klitschko brothers. For several years now, “The Brothers K” have dominated the heavyweight landscape, so much so that now they’ve gone one step further than clearing out the division. There are no real challenges left…or are there?
We take a look at the top 10 heavyweights, rated by The Ring magazine, and assess the future.
Champion – Wladimir Klitschko, 58-3 (51): After he won gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, much was expected of the younger Klitschko sibling. He’s indeed the more skilled, quicker and bigger puncher of the two, though has been susceptible to power. Wladimir has been on the canvas multiple times, though not since he beat Sam Peter in 2005, followed by a stretch encompassing 13 fights. Has engaged in 21 world title fights (more than Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield) with 19 wins with 16 ending inside the distance. At 36, shows no signs of slowing down or retiring.

1 – Vitali Klitschko, 44-2 (40): Though big brother doesn’t possess some of Wladimir’s skills, he makes up for it being the tougher of the two, a grinder who often bludgeons the opposition into defeat. He enjoys size advantages over nearly all of his opponents, along with considerable presence and experience. Despite seemingly slowing down at age 41, will still be a mammoth task for anyone to topple. His future beyond today’s fight with Manuel Charr is questionable as he is rumoured to be contemplating politics in his native Ukraine.
2 – Alexander Povetkin, 24-0 (16): Former standout amateur who won gold at the 2004 Olympics. Though he’s unbeaten and holds the WBA “regular” heavyweight title, he’s not really lived up to his early expectations. He pulled out of a clash with Wladimir Klitschko due to injury but hasn’t shown any interest in stepping in the ring with either brother since, seeming content to keep fighting in Germany against contenders.
3 – Tomasz Adamek, 46-2 (28): A former two-division world champion who’s a huge draw on the East Coast of America, as well as his native Poland where he faced Vitali Klitschko. Despite a valiant effort, the popular Pole was comprehensively beaten. Heading toward his 36th birthday and lucky to get by a one-armed Eddie Chambers in June, Adamek seems to be on the slide.
4 – David Haye, 26-2 (24): Stepped up to heavyweight, having been a wrecking ball as a cruiserweight where he unified three of the four sanctioning bodies’ titles. Maintained his power at heavyweight where he makes for exciting fights but looked out of his depth losing a wide decision to Wladimir Klitschko last summer. Hopes to entice Vitali into a fight though that seems a long way away at the moment.
5 – Kubrat Pulev, 16-0 (8): Former amateur star, turned pro at the advanced at of 28 in 2009 but has moved quickly since. Good size and marauding style make him a threat. Impressively stopped Alexander Dimitrenko to become the European champion last time out, though still seems too green to pose much of a threat to either Klitschko brother.
6 – Robert Helenius, 17-0 (11): At 6’6½” and a solid 240-plus pounds, has good size comparable to any of the other big men around. Broke onto the international scene with back-to-back stoppage wins over former world champions Sam Peter and Sergei Liakhovich last year. However, a less than stellar performance last time out coupled with a shoulder injury sustained against Dereck Chisora last December have seen him out of action since. Hopefully, he can recover and regain his old form which would see become a player once again.
7 – Denis Boytsov, 31-0 (25): Decorated amateur who turned pro before fighting at senior level as an amateur. A smaller heavyweight than his behemoth piers at 6’1” but what Boytsov lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and power, drawing early career comparisons to a young Mike Tyson. Threatened to break through with a buzz about him before injury slowed his progress and has stagnated over the past few years. If he can get back to where he was a few years back, he could make waves again in a division crying out for a star.
8 – Ruslan Chagaev, 30-2-1 (19): Fought and won twice at a lower level since he lost to Povetkin last summer. Left his promoter, Universum, over the summer, returning on 1st September with a win over sub-.500 Werner Kreiskott. Perhaps not what he once was, Chagaev is still a very solid B-side against guys coming through.
9 – Chris Arreola, 35-2 (30): The heavy-handed American is usually involved in exciting fights and seems to have found renewed dedication over the past year or so. “The Nightmare” hopes to parlay that dedication into his second title shot (having lost to Vitali three years ago). His new maturity looks like it might be rewarded with a second title fight against Wladimir though Arreola would still be a sizeable underdog.
10 – Tyson Fury, 19-0 (14): The charismatic Brit is even bigger than the Klitschko brothers at 6’9” and at just 24, has time on his side. He once seemed more suspect than prospect but appears to have harnessed his ability and though he has been rocked a few times, seems capable of making a charge in the next year or so.
The Remaining Contenders:
Eddie Chambers, 36-3 (18): Highly skilled for a small guy who generally weighs under 210. Bermane Stiverne, 22-1-1(20): Heavy-handed Canadian-based Haitian. Mariusz Wach, 27-0 (15): Big, solid but not spectacular American-based Pole. Francesco Pianeta, 26-0-1 (14): The Italian has been known to fall out of love with boxing, recently beat an ancient Oliver McCall. Alexander Dimitrenko, 32-2 (21): Lost his two biggest fights to Chambers and Pulev. Has good size, skills and speed but is unable to consistently put it together at a high level. Dereck Chisora, 15-4 (9): Despite losing three in a row, all against good opposition, looks like a solid gatekeeper. Malik Scott, 34-0 (11): Skilled but undedicated with a tedious style. Tony Thompson, 36-3 (24): The big man would be competitive against anyone not named Klitschko.
Rising Prospects:
Seth Mitchell, 25-0-1 (19): Exciting former puncher from an American football background, backed by the influential Al Haymon. David Price, 13-0 (11): 2008 Olympic bronze medallist has developed nicely, possesses a thudding jab and right hand to go with huge 6’8” 240-plus pound frame. Deontay Wilder, 24-0 (24): Also a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, still learning, very much a long-term project. Edmund Gerber, 20-0 (13): Disappointing last time out when he scrapped a controversial decision over trial horse Maurice Harris, needs to have learned from that. Mike Perez, 18-0 (12): Highly-skilled Cuban, based in Ireland. Though not as well-known as other prospects, he could be a dark horse. Tor Hamer, 18-1 (11): Recently won the international heavyweight edition of “Prizefighter,” vaulting him back into contention. Joe Hanks, 20-0 (14): Was used as Chisora’s sparring partner ahead of the David Haye fight, another who could make his mark in the next year or so. Manuel Charr, 21-0 (11), becomes the first Lebanese fighter to ever contest for the heavyweight title when he meets Vitali Klitschko today, solid fighter though has not fought anyone like the Ukrainian juggernaut. Artur Szpilka, 12-0 (9): Hard-charging bad boy of Polish boxing, fought through a broken jaw last time out to outpoint Jameel McCline. Interesting to see how the youngster rebounds from that. Andrzej Wawrzyk, 26-0 (13): Last two fights have gone the full route. Seems to lack genuine power which may be a hindrance as he moves up in class. Luis Ortiz, 16-0 (13): Former Cuban star is quietly lurking in the shadows and moving along nicely. At 33, needs to step up soon though. Vyacheslav Glazkov, 12-0 (9): Not quite moved as quickly as he should have, seems ready to make his run in the next year or so. Bryant Jennings, 14-0 (6): Nice win over former champion Sergei Liahkovich. Still needs work and has time at 27, though patience is the key. Magomed Abdusalamov, 15-0 (15): A marauding Russian southpaw has run through all his opposition to date including an impressive second round stoppage over Maurice Byarm (who had previously gone the distance with Bryant Jennings). Andy Ruiz Jr., 15-0 (9): Still only a baby at 22, so has time on his side, getting better with every fight.
The Amateurs- Olympic Super Heavyweights:
Magomed Omarov (Russia), 6’5”, 22, 2011 European champion.
Dominic Breazeale (America), 6’7”, 26, USA Nationals 2012.
Ivan Dychko (Kazakhstan)6’9” 22, 2011 World Championships, bronze.
Eric Pfeifer (Russian-born, German-based), 6’3”, 25, 2011 World Championships, bronze.
Tony Yoka (France), 6’6”, 20, 2010 Youth Olympic gold and silver at Youth World Championships.
Erislandy Savon Cotilla, 22, nephew of Cuban great Felix Savon, lost to eventual World Championships winner in 2011, won the 2008 Youth World Championship.
Anthony Joshua (Britain), 6’6”, 22, 2011 silver at 2011 World Championships.
Olympic Heavyweights:
Oleksandr Usyk (Ukrainian), 25, southpaw, won 2011 World Championships, bronze in 2009.
Michael Hunter II (America), 24, USA Nationals in 2007 and 2009.
Tervel Pulev (Bulgaria), 29, a two-time silver medallist at the 2010 and 2011 European championships and younger brother of current European champion Kubrat Pulev.
Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan), 6’5” 19, World Championships silver and European gold both in 2011.
Didn’t Go to the Olympics:
Filip Hrgovic (Croatia), 20, 2010 Youth World Championships. Sergei Kuzmin (Russia), 25, 2010 European Champion.
Questions and or comments can be sent to Anson at and you can follow him at Anson is also a member of The Ring magazine’s ratings panel.
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