On Saturday night in Washington D.C., WBA “interim” heavyweight champion Luis Ortiz faces veteran Tony Thompson. On the same night in Grozny, WBA “regular” heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev sets to with undefeared Australian Lucas Browne. Neither of those belts are real world titles, despite whatever farces the WBA would like to perpetrate, but Ortiz and Chagaev are both top heavyweights. So with the two of them in action this weekend, it’s a good time to look at the heavyweight top 10.
No. 1: Tyson Fury It still feels a bit surreal to list Tyson Fury as the top heavyweight on the planet. I never thought I’d see the day. But to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man and Fury did it last November. It was a lousy fight, but Fury clearly deserved to win.
No. 2: Wladimir Klitschko Klitschko looked downright timid in his loss to Fury last year. It was one of the most uninspired performances in the history of the division. He still deserves to rank here for now, but it’s impossible not to wonder if his heart is still in it.
No. 3: Alexander Povetkin Povetkin lost his decisively to Klitschko in October 2013, but he suffered for referee Luis Pabon’s refusal to enforce the rules against clinching on Klitschko. I’d favor the Russian against nearly any heavyweight on the planet.
No. 4: Luis Ortiz Many would rank Deontay Wilder in this position, since he holds the WBC belt. But Oritz’s knockout of Bryant Jennings last December was the most exciting heavyweight performance in years. He’s a big, athletic fighter with explosive power and outstanding technical boxing. I’d pick him over any heavyweight in the world.
No. 5: Deontay Wilder He didn’t look great in his last fight against Artur Szpilka, but the Polish contender is an underrated fighter. And Wilder was still up on the cards when he landed the big punch that ended the fight in Round 9. And sudden power like Wilder’s is the great equalizer in boxing.
No. 6: Kubrat Pulev The Bulgarian was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, in Round 5. But he still boasts one of the best resumes in the division.
No. 7: Bryant Jennings He suffered a brutal KO against Ortiz last December, but he’s clearly demonstrated that he’s one of the smartest and most athletic fighters in the division.
No. 8: Bermane Stiverne He was thoroughly out-boxed for 12 rounds by Wilder in January 2015. But he showed explosive power in his two fights with Chris Arreola, who is not a not an easy fighter to rock.
No. 9: Ruslan Chagaev He has an interesting test in front of him this weekend in Lucas Browne. He’s defeated some very good heavyweight and lost only to Klitschko and Povetkin.
No. 10: Carlos Takam Was outboxed and knocked out in 10 by Alexander Povetkin in October 2014. But he drew with Mike Perez in a fight he should have won and beat Tony Thompson. In my opinion he’s done more to deserve a top 10 ranking at this point than either IBF champion Charles Martin or undefeated Anthony Joshua.