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Oct 30th
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Home Boxing Exploring Upcoming Fights and Rankings in the Heavyweight Division
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Exploring Upcoming Fights and Rankings in the Heavyweight Division


Perhaps it’s because college football is right around the corner and I have always enjoyed a good ranking system, that I take the time to make a list of the top-25 list for my favorite division.  One of the toughest things to do in the current crop of heavyweight fighters is to put them in any kind of ranking beyond the top five in the division.  You also have names like Evander Holyfield, who in your heart know should have retired at least a half decade ago, but he narrowly missed winning a version of the WBA title when he faced Valuev this past December.  Reluctantly (sadly?) there is still a place for Holyfield in my top-25 rankings.  Also, you have the issues of fighters jumping up in weight, and figuring out where they fit.  The biggest case of this, and the person making the most noise, is David Haye.  Haye has two heavyweight fights.  In April 2007 he beat Tomasz Bonin in one before moving back down to Cruiserweight to unify the titles.  In November 2008, after announcing he was in the heavyweight division to stay, he beat the past-his-prime Monte Barrett in five one sided rounds.  Usually that resume doesn’t warrant a top ten ranking in the heavyweight division, but because of his resume at Cruiserweight, and the lack of depth at heavyweight, he makes it into just about every ranking system, including mine.

Finally, I think most fans and members of the media agree that this is a weak era for heavyweight boxing, but I have a few thoughts on that.  Imagine for a second that there isn’t a two headed monster at the top of today’s current division that goes by the name of the Klitschko's.  The division would be wide open.  In years past any division that is considered “wide open” may also be considered “stacked,” because it would seem like belts were changing hands nearly every fight, and that literally anyone in the top 20 or 25 had the potential to win a title.  Without the Klitschko’s, this current crop of heavyweights is an example of that.  However, this era will go down as being two really good fighters at the top of the division, then everyone else.  In fact, most heavyweight eras of recent times have been like that, with Mike Tyson being above everyone else in his division for a time, and Lennox Lewis being above his before the Klitschko’s moved in and he moved out. 

A quick few notes about my ratings:  Much like college football stats I have added an “others receiving votes column.” Also, once you hit the bottom third of the rankings many fighters become interchangeable.  I wish I could tell you exactly why I picked one guy at 23 and another at 24, but you really can’t, and neither can the major rankings bodies.  Either way, here are my current top 25 rankings in the heavyweight division.

Ranking   Name   Record

1 Wladimir Klitschko 53-3 (47 KO's)
2 Vitali Klitschko 37-2 (36 KO's)
3 Alexander Povetkin 17-0 (12 KO's)
4 Nikolai Valuev 50-1 (34 KO's)
5 Eddie Chambers 35-1 (18 KO's)
6 Chris Arreola 27-0 (24 KO's)
7 Ruslan Chagaev 25-1 (17 KO's)
8 David Haye 22-1 (21 KO's)
9 Alexander Dimitrenko 29-1 (19 KO's)
10 Denis Boystov 25-0 (20 KO's)
11 Oleg Maskaev 36-6 (27 KO's)
12 Vladimir Virchis 24-2 (20 KO's)
13 Brian Minto 33-2 (21 KO's)
14 Evander Holyfield 42-10 (27 KO's)
15 Sam Peter 31-3 (24 KO's)
16 John Ruiz 43-8-1 (29 KO's)
17 Tony Thompson 32-2 (20 KO's)
18 James Toney 71-6-3 (43 KO)
19 Fres Oquendo 31-5 (20 KO's)
20 Ray Austin 27-4-4(17 KO's)
21 Kevin Johnson 22-0 (9 KO's)
22 Odlanier Solis 14-0 (10 KO's)
23 Francesco Pianeta 18-0 (11 KO's)
24 Albert Sosnowski 44-2-1 (27 KO's)
25 Shane Cameron  23-1 (20 KO's)
Others Receiving Votes: 
 Cedric Boswell
Malik Scott
Lamon Brewster
Hasim Rahman
Andrew Golota
Monte Barrett
Donell Holmes

With a bunch of meaningful heavyweight fights either proposed, or signed for already, the rankings will be a lot different by the end of the year.  Let’s take a look at some of the fights that will have the biggest impact in the upcoming months.

December 12 – Wladimir Klitschko (53-3 47 KO’s, IBF and WBO Champ) vs. Alexander Povetkin (17-0 12 KO’s)
Teddy Atlas has taken over the training duties for Alexander Povetkin, and despite him being the number one contender to the younger Klitschko’s IBF belt for nearly 18 months, Atlas has said he wants a “warm-up” fight before taking that challenge.  The question is, who?  Nobody in the top 25 matches the size, weight, or strength of Klitschko.  If Atlas wants a warm-up to see what Povetkin can do, then that’s one thing, but if it’s to prepare him for a fight with Klitschko that’s another.  Plus, Povetkin has an extensive amateur background that is one of the best in history, and despite only 17 fights on his pro resume, he has impressed beating Chris Byrd, Eddie Chambers, and most recently former American amateur standout Jason Estrada.  The point is that a “warm-up” fight does nothing at this point to help him prepare for a fight with the heavyweight champ. 

September 26 – Vitali Klitschko (37-2 36 KO’s WBC Champ) vs. Chris Arreola (27-0 24 KO’s)
Literally as I’m writing this sentence, this fight has just been called a done deal.  This is a bit of a surprise to me.  Arreola was spotted ringside at the Timothy Bradley – Nate Campbell fight this weekend in nowhere near fighting shape.  Guesses are he is over the 300 pound mark.  With eight weeks to the fight it’s possible that Arreola could get down to a decent weight, but with a fighter like Klitschko I’d like to see my fighter in a little better shape less than two months out.  Even if Arreola is in the best shape of his life he’ll still be a pretty big underdog, but by at least giving himself a chance he makes the fight more exciting for the fans while it lasts.  Some people in the media think the older Klitschko is on the way down, being 38 years old and having a ton of injuries, but the way he dismantled the slick Juan Carlos Gomez in his last fight leads me to believe he still has plenty in the tank. 

November 7 – Nicolai Valuev (50-1 34 KO’s WBA Champ) vs. David Haye (22-1 21 KO’s)
After proposed fights with both Klitschko’s fell through for Haye, he has moved on to Valuev and his WBA title belt.  People seem to forget that Haye will have been out of the ring for just about a year by the time this fight comes around.  But, because of his ability to promote himself he has already been able to have his name associated with every title belt, and will get to fight for one in just his third heavyweight fight.  Valuev to will be coming in to the fight with a long layoff, after his lackluster performance against Evander Holyfield last December.  Many seem to think because of Valuev’s performance against Holyfield that Haye will do away with the giant in short order.  I disagree entirely.  Valuev said numerous times before the Holyfield fight he didn’t want to fight him because he was his role model growing up.  You can debate that if Valuev was indeed speaking the truth he should have done his job and fought his best, but regardless it may have impacted the way he fought.  After all, it wouldn’t be the first time in history a fighter didn’t give it his all with the fear of hurting his opponent.  I don’t think Valuev will have any problem working himself up for this fight.  Haye is backing on his power to win this fight, but being that Valuev has never touched the canvas, or even really shook up, his best bet is to try to out box the big man.

Other meaningful fights include:

Brian Minto (33-2 21 KO’s) vs. Donnell Holmes (31-0-2 27 KO’s)
Minto is ranked 8th by the WBO and 15th by the WBA and has now joined forces with trainer Freddie Roach.  Holmes, ranked 13th by the WBC, spots a nice undefeated record, but Minto is by far and away his toughest task to date.  The winner of this fight on August 14 will continue to move up the rankings and have a legit argument as most others as to why they deserve a title shot. 

Kevin Johnson (22-0-1 9 KO’s) vs. Odlanier Solis (14-0 10 KO’s)
Kevin Johnson is being called by many the “Next American Hope,” after Eddie Chambers.  Johnson is ranked 6th by the WBA, 9th by the WBO, and 12th by the IBF, but will have his hands full with former Cuban amateur standout Odlanier Solis.  Solis has been impressive in his short professional career, but the question with him is regarding his weight.  In the amateurs his best weight was at 210, in his most recent fight he weighed 262.5.  Despite weight issues, Solis has been predicted to do great things as a pro, and a win here will catapult him up the rankings.  This fight is scheduled for November 10.

Robert Jones


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