There was a time, as most fight fans probably remember, when the cruiserweight division – or junior heavyweight as the weight class was also known in its early days – was nothing much of interest to the average boxing fan. And to fighters themselves, the division was nothing more than a stopgap on the way to the glamour and big paydays of the heavyweight division. Not so today.
These days, with well-conditioned 200-pounders capable of reminding older fans of the great heavyweight fights and performances of yesteryear – when the big men of the day were not all that big at all in comparison to today’s 240, 250 and 260-pound giants – the cruiserweights often provide hi-volume slugfests and great fights. But who are the best in the business in the division today?
Here’s a top-10 you may or may not agree with:
1: Krzysztof Glowacki, WBO champ, 26-0(16). Last fight: WU12 Steve Cunningham. Next fight: likely a defence of his WBO belt against unbeaten mandatory Oleksandr Usyk.
2: Grigory Drozd, WBC champ in recess, 40-1(28). Last fight: WTKO9 Lukasz Janik. Next fight: up in the air at present due to injury on the part of Drozd.
3: Denis Lebedev, IBF/WBA champ, 29-2(22). Last fight: WTKO2 Victor Emilio Ramirez. Next fight: must face Beibut Shumenov within 120 days, with the winner to then fight Yunier Dorticos.
4: Marco Huck, 39-3-1(27). Last fight: WRTD10 Ola Afolabi. Next fight: TBA, but Huck wants a shot at revenge against Glowacki, who upset him via thrilling 11th-round stoppage last August.
5: Ilunga Makabu, 19-1(18). Last fight: WKO11 Thabiso Mchunu. Next fight: May 29th, Vs. Tony Bellew for vacant WBC belt.
6: Beibut Shumenov, regular WBA champ, 17-2(11). Last fight: WTKO10 Junior Anthony Wright. Next fight: Denis Lebedev within 120 days.
7: Yunier Dorticos, interim WBA champ, 21-0(20). Last fight: WTKO10 Youri Kalenga. Next fight: awaiting the winner of the Lebedev-Shumenov fight.
8: Oleksandr Usyk, 9-0(9). Last fight: WTKO7 Pedro Rodriguez. Next fight: a shot at Glowacki’s WBO title.
9: Mairis Briedis, 20-0(17). Last fight: WTKO9 Olanrewaju Durodola. Next fight: TBA.
10: Murat Gassiev, 23-0(17). Last fight: KO (of the year contender) 1 Jordan Shimmell. Next fight: TBA (but it can’t come fast enough!)