With Sergey Kovalev set to face Andre Ward this weekend on pay-per-view, it’s a good time to present an updated light heavyweight top 10.
No. 1: Sergey Kovalev, WBO, WBA, IBF champion The monster from Russia has developed into one of the sport’s top draws in recent years. An extremely dangerous punche, he is 30-0-1 with 26 KOs.
No. 2: Andre Ward Ward defeated Sullivan Barrera, a credible contender, with ease earlier this year. He beat three future Hall of Famers at super middleweight: Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Mikkel Kessler.
No. 3: Adonis Stevenson, WBC champion He was The Ring’s Fighter of the Year in 2013, but has lost status since, due to his unwillingness to face Kovalev. Still, he has defeated some very good fighters in Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, Andrzej Fonfara, Tony Bellew and Tommy Karpency.
No. 4: Artur Beterbiev A two-time Olympian in Russia and former rival of Kovalev, he has been a wrecking machine in the professional ranks. All 10 of his professional wins have come inside of the distance. He already has stoppages of former champions Tavoris Cloud and Gabriel Campillo.
No. 5: Vyacheslav Shabranskyy The Ukrainian knocked out rugged Garret Wilson, which heavyweight contender Vyacheslav Glazkov was unable to do. But I have him ranked this high based on his impressive win over Yunieski Gonzalez last December. Fights tough Sullivan Barrera next month.
No. 6: Eleider Alvarez Like Stevenson and Beterbiev, Alvarez fights out of Quebec. The Colombian native is 20-0 with 10 KOs and took a hard-fought decision from Isaac Chilemba last year.
No. 7: Isaac Chilemba The Malawi native has become the man in the division who will face anybody, anywhere. He is taking a two-fight losing streak into a major matchup with Oleksandr Gvozdyk this weekend.
No. 8: Oleksandr Gvozdyk Won a bronze medal for the Ukraine in 2012. As a professional, he is undefeated, with nine KOs in 11 fights. This year he has recorded impressive stoppages of second-tier contenders Nadjib Mohammedi and Tommy Karpency. Has a compelling test in front of him this weekend in Chilemba.
No. 9: Joe Smith Jr. Before last June, Smith was a popular club fighter on the New York circuit, but nobody’s idea of a contender. That changed in a hurry when he jumped all over Andrzej Fonfara and stopped him in the first. Faces 51-year-old legend Bernard Hopkins next year.
No. 10: Andrzej Fonfara Prior to his stunning loss to Smith, Fonfara was in my own top five. The Polish contender has defeated Glen Johnson by one-sided decision and knocked out Tommy Karpency, Gabriel Campillo and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He gave Stevenson a tough decision and bested former champion Nathan Cleverly in a 12-round war. I’m not ready to drop him from the top 10 just yet.