The undefeated heavyweights, bright futures or inevitable declines?
By Scott Bells: It says a lot when promoters have to pad out fighters records to ensure they remain unbeaten simply due to the fact that the two who sit at the top of the tree (The Klitschkos) are so much better than the rest.
This is what, in my opinion, many promoters are doing as there is clearly a number of grades of fighters in the heavyweight division; some can make it to the top and others will not recover from the inevitable first career loss that most, if not all, will suffer to a Klitschko or a Haye type on the way through.
Let’s break them down…..
Alexander Povetkin (25-0, 17 KOs): He had a good amateur career and has a number of natural attributes, one being his general boxing ability. He showed he can take a shot in his tear up with Marko Huck but has not fought anyone better than that and also fights quite sporadically for a heavyweight titleholder. He will finally get tested against Wladimir Klitschko if he successfully defends in his tune up fight this week, however that must be, in part, due to the huge purse he will get for that fight. I don’t think we will hear too much about Povetkin after he loses to Wladimir as he is now 33 and has not got the speed he had when he started his pro career.
Tyson Fury (21-0, 15 KOs): I do NOT rate Tyson Fury as a boxer; I think he is clumsy (much like Amir Khan, but in a more obvious way) and does not possess great technique compared to his rivals. However, his size alone makes him a formidable opponent for any heavyweight, and when he sticks to a game plan (like he did against Kevin Johnson) he can box sensibly and win a fight. He could actually become a heavyweight champion one day, but he needs to work hard on his skills and understand distance between him and his opponent as he lets them get too close. He will lose very soon, however at 24, he is young enough to come back.
Kubrat Pulev (17-0, 9 KOs): Pulev has some decent power despite his knockout percentage and could be a handful for a number of 2nd tier fighters. He is avoided in the division following his win over Ustinov however he needs to now follow that up with some more victories over well-known heavyweights (Adamek or Chagaev maybe) to really get people talking about him as a possible heir to the Klitschko throne. At 32, he has time left in him as he has not aged as a boxer badly, so he is a prospect who could rock the boat in my opinion.
Robert Helenius (19-0, 11 KOs): An unbeaten record still, however was gifted a hometown decision against 3rd tier fighter Derek Chisora a couple of years ago in a horrendous robbery. He recently beat Michael Sprott, but looked easily hittable despite his natural size and reach advantage. At 29, he has time on his side if he waits until the Ukrainian maestros retire, however he is not dominant enough in his fights, nor does he have the power to make waves in the division. If I were a David Haye or Tyson Fury, I would be doing everything I could to get Helenius in the ring; won’t happen though!
Denis Boystov (32-0, 25 KOs): Impressive numbers, questionable opposition. At 27, Boystov has a number of advantages over his rivals, namely that he has time to hone his skills and upgrade the calibre of opposition slowly as he works towards a title shot. He is not very big for a heavyweight, but has decent power, fast hands, and his amateur career was mightily impressive. If he can improve on his footwork and lateral movement, then he may actually be one of the standout heavyweights in 18-24 months’ time when most of the fighters on this list will have tasted defeat. He needs a fight of note next against a name, so I would suggest stepping him up a little to fight someone like Chagaev or maybe even risk against Tony Thomspon when he loses against David Price in July. He could be a big deal if managed well!
Deontay Wilder (28-0, 28 KOs): The man who many regard as the next big thing certainly has a beautifully looking record, and has huge punching power. His chin is yet to be tested (not necessarily a bad thing!), but the key for Wilder is to not get carried away in all the hype, and just work on improving the parts of his game which are not yet where they need to be for him to be elite. His footwork could improve, as could his variation (i.e. not relying on his right hand bombs), and I think a fight that takes him in to the later rounds is exactly what he needs at this point to keep him grounded. He has amazing ability, and I do believe he could be the successor to Wladimir Klitschko, IF he doesn’t neglect his skills that need to improve. A fight against a durable opponent such as an Adamek, Banks or an Arreola would really test him in a couple of fights time, after he gets rid of the game, but limited Chisora.
Bryant Jennings (16-0, 8 Kos): Really like this guy’s style, however he needs more fights and more seasoning before he gets taken seriously. He is super quick in terms of both his hand and foot speed, however he has a questionable chin and needs at least 3 more fights before he is ready to move up another level into the 2nd tier of the division. He needs to make sure that when he is in the firing line of his opponents that he covers up and avoids getting hit. He has the ability to be a real force in the division if his chin does not let him down. Would love to see him fight an Eddie Chambers style opponent in his next few fights.
So…..there IS some exciting potential in the heavyweight division at this point in time, and a few of them will lead the way over the next couple of years. There is an interesting mix of boxers and fighters and I suspect it will be the one who is most adaptable in the ring that rules the day and dominates the division over the next few years. In Wilder there is true star potential, and he DOES seem like the pick of the bunch, however we may have some interesting competition if the Klitshkos do retire in the next year or so.
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