Together, heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko gave their sport, and their weight class in particular, a huge boost with their great action fight. With Tyson Fury out of action and with WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder not yet facing a genuine risk of an opponent while he has been champion, the April 29 fight was largely sees as the two best heavyweights facing one another.
Now that he has won, both the biggest test/fight of his career and two of the four major belts up for grabs, Joshua has proven himself, in the eyes of most, as the best big man in the sport right now. Until he is beaten, by either Fury if and when he returns (and it’s looking more like when, what with Fury dedicating himself to serious training in Spain) or by someone else, AJ has to be looked at as the main man.
But which fighters make up the remainder of the top-10 best heavyweights on the scene today? For what it’s worth, here is one writer’s picks:
1: Anthony Joshua, 19-0(19). WBA/IBF champ.
Joshua showed last week that he is a gutsy, durable fighter who also happens to carry a vicious sledgehammer of a punch. And AJ’s peak years could still be a few years away. How great can Joshua become?
2: Wladimir Klitschko, 64-5(53).
Would Klitschko, with his spirited, far from safety-first effort, have beaten any other heavyweight but AJ? Will Klitschko get revenge if he takes the rematch he can have if he chooses? If he has fought his last fight, Klitschko goes out with one hugely impressive, and respectful, bang.
3: Deontay Wilder, 38-0(37). WBC champ.
Wilder just might be the most dangerous puncher in the division, but until he’s stopped a genuinely elite opponent, we will not know how good he really is. Wilder has big fights in his sights and it sure will be fun seeing how he gets on against the likes of Joshua and Fury.
4: Alexander Povetkin, 31-1(23).
Beaten only by a peak Wladimir Klitschko, Povetkin is hugely experienced and he is both tough and powerful. But until the Russian makes fight fans forget about his failed drugs tests, there will be a cloud over Povetkin’s name and career.
5: Luis Ortiz, 27-0(23).
The powerful Cuban southpaw has yet to face the absolute best (Ortiz claims he has been avoided by such) but in the opinion of some he has the tools to beat the best. The thing against Ortiz is age; at 38 he must get the big fights soon.
6: Kubrat Pulev, 25-1(13).
Pulev, beaten only by Wladimir Klitschko, is in good shape rankings-wise, mandatory challenger as he is for the IBF belt currently held by Joshua. Can the Bulgarian win the title if he gets a second chance? We might find out.
7: Tony Bellew, 29-2-1(19).
Bellew has just one heavyweight win on his record, but it’s a big one. Bellew upset huge favourite David Haye and he may well get himself a title shot as a result. Can Bellew win the ultimate?
8: Joseph Parker, 22-0(18). WBO champ.
How good is Parker? With decent if not great wins over Andy Ruiz and Carlos Takam, Parker is a good, solid fighter, but currently the weakest (on paper) of the reigning champions. In the coming months, however, Parker could prove such thinking to be wrong and show he is the real deal.
9: Dillian Whyte, 20-1(15).
Whyte holds a good win over proven, long-time contender Dereck Chisora, while he shook the hell out of Joshua in a great action fight a year or so ago. Whyte will remain on course for a world title shot if he can defeat Mariusz Wach next month.
10: Andy Ruiz, 29-1(19).
Ruiz was within a whisker of taking the WBO belt in his fight with Parker, ultimately letting the decision slip through his fingers. Can the fast-handed boxer-puncher come again?