The Next Heavyweight Boxing Generation Is Coming: Boytsov, Helenius, Pulev

boxing by Paul McCreath: Over the past 2 or 3 years we have seen a number of young heavyweights rise towards the top as some of our older ones faded from the scene. Unfortunately most of the more promising ones have turned out to be disappointing. American fans saw the likes of Eddie Chambers, Kevin Johnson and Chris Arreola all rise to contender status only to come up short when their big chance arrived. Others like Travis Walker, Jason Estrada and Chazz Witherspoon didn't even get that far. In Europe we saw Alex Dimitrenko get as far as an eliminator with Chambers then lose decisively. Others like Konstantin Airich, Stephan Kretschmann and Sebastian Koeber have failed to develop as hoped. We are left with the undefeated Alex Povetkin as a hopeful from these years and talk is that he is possibly going to accept walk away money to step aside once again from a challenge to Wlad Klitschko in order that David Haye can fight him instead. You can say that the past couple of years have not been too productive as far as finding new stars for the heavyweight division. If David Haye had not moved up from cruiser there would not be much to talk about..

Now we have a new group of young guns to get their fans all excited. Some will crash and burn along the way as always but maybe, just maybe we will come up with at least one really good one. Today we will look at the most likely fighters to become household names over the next few years.

Denis Boytsov the 24 year old Russian may be the best bet of all. After a good amateur career during which he won the world junior championship in 2004 he turned pro and has won his first 27 fights, 22 by KO. He is a bit on the small side at 6 foot 1 inch and around 225 pounds but he makes up for it with his hand speed and power. As Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson proved you don't have to be big if you can hit, have a good chin and the technical skills to go with it. Denis qualifies on all counts. He is already rated in the top 10 by The Ring and his best win so far was a 6 round stoppage over fringe contender Taras Bidenko. He has also defeated tough American trial horse Robert Hawkins as well as hardman Vinnie Maddelone and Jason Estrada. Bidenko was 26-2 at the time of his loss to Boytsov. Denis is being brought along carefully while fighting in Germany as part of the Universum stable. I expect he will wait another year or two before trying for a world belt but a good next step would be Audley Harrison for the Euro title although Dimitrenko may get there first. Perhaps a match with Alex might follow a bit later. Expect big things from this young lad but not right away.

Robert Helenius has been attracting a lot of attention, especially since his 8th round KO of former champ Lamon Brewster. He has had only 12 fights, all wins and already has stopped Bidenko and outpointed Gbenga Oloukun who had defeated Brewster in his previous bout. He hails from Finland but fights now out of Germany with Sauerland. As an amateur he won silver at the Euro championships in 2006. He is a big guy at 6 foot 6 and 1/2 inches and around 245 pounds. Oddly enough he was known more as a boxer than a puncher in his early fights but has been showing more power lately He has 7 KOs. He likes to work behind his jab much like the Klitschkos and has shown a good chin. At 26 he has plenty of time but is being brought along quickly. The Euro title might well be in his sights soon.

Kubrat Pulev is the fastest rising of the young stars. This 28 year old Bulgarian who is also part of the Sauerland stable is wasting no time. In only 7 bouts since turning pro in 2009 he has already stopped former challenger Matt Skelton in 4 and also outpointed Oloukun. Next up is Oleg Platov a 28-1 fighter with 22 KOs and a points win over Henry Akinwande. Pulev was the 2005 World Bronze winner at superheavy and the 2008 Euro champ as an amateur. At 6 foot 4 and 1/2 inches Kubrat is another big one but he likes to work inside. He has 5 KOs in his 7 fights. If fast starts mean anything watch out for this one.

I am going to throw in a real dark horse here in Ondrej Pala from the Czech Republic. . Few have heard of this guy outside of Europe and his 27-2 record suggests some may have written him off because of those losses. One loss came against Boytsov when he was stopped on cuts in 6. The other came also in 2006 when outpointed by Rene Dettweiler, a German prospect who was 16-0 at the time. This was Pala's first fight in Germany and the first one outside of his home country. He now fights for Arena Box and has won his last 16 in a row. He has wins over Akinwande, Airich who was 11-1-1, Alex Mazikin who was 13-2-1 and the vet Robert Hawkins. He is only 25 years old and stands 6 foot 3 and weighs around 240 pounds. He has scored 19 KOs. Don't forget the name. He may surprise.

The best in fact perhaps the only American worth mentioning here is the 2008 Olympic bronze medal winner at 201 pounds Deontay Wilder. Now understand he is not yet in the same class with the others mentioned. We are talking long term potential here, perhaps in 4 years or so. Deontay has been matched very soft in his first 9 bouts and as expected has 9 straight KOs, the last 8 in the first round. The problem is his size. He stands 6 foot 7 but only weighs around 215 pounds. Until he fills out to about 240 he will not have the strength to compete with top heavyweights so he will be brought along very slowly. He had only a handful of amateur bouts in spite of his Olympic medal so he needs experience. The weight should not be an issue in time. If there is one thing that American heavyweights do very well it is putting on weight. I like his chances. Even considering his soft opponents he must be doing something right and have decent power to get 8 straight 1st round KOs. His last one was over 7-1 fighter Ty Cobb. Deontay is only 24 years old.

The UK has a number of heavyweight prospects but most are in their very early stages development wise. Sam Sexton is the highest rated as Commonwealth champion but may not go much further. There are concerns about his stamina and chin. Tom Dallas and David Price may come along but have really not proven anything yet. The one fighter that everyone is talking about is Tyson Fury the 21 year old 6 foot 7 giant. In just over 2 years he has attracted more haters and more fans than nearly anyone in recent memory. It is easy to see why many don't like him. He has a lot to say for someone so new to the game and many feel he is over hyped with all the publicity he gets. So far he has had 10 wins with 8 KOs. Last September in only his 8th pro bout he was matched with the 30 fight veteran John McDermott in a contest that resulted in a very controversial decision. No matter who you think won the fight we can all agree that one official was right out to lunch with his one sided score for Fury. The other two had it close, one each way. Most fans agree it was close and I thought it could have gone either way. The important thing here is not who won but the fact that Tyson was able to go 10 close rounds so early in his career against a fighter of McDermott's level. The real test will come on May 22 when they fight a rematch. If Fury wins impressively then we have a true prospect. If he doesn't then maybe it was all hype. It should be mentioned too that Fury's weight has been the subject of controversy. It is not that 250 pounds is too heavy for a man that tall but he has a definite soft look. He needs to turn the baby fat into muscle. Tyson may not amount to anything much but you can be sure of one thing. We are going to hear about it. If he ever becomes a champion he will make David Haye sound shy.

There are of course other good prospects from around the world who may turn out to be better than the ones mentioned in this article. Derrick Chisora, Manual Charr, Francesco Pianeta, Travis Kauffman, Mike Perez, Odlanier Solis, Edmund Gerber, Alex Ustinov and others all have their followers. You never know with prospects whether they will live up to their early press clippings. The fun is watching them progress or fail as they try to climb the ladder of success. It usually takes a few years so stay tuned.

Article posted on 13.04.2010

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