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Heavyweight hopefuls fighting in December

Anthony JoshuaBy Gav Duthie: In the space of a week between 12-19 December we will know a lot more about the prospects and pretenders in the heavyweight division as six of them lock horns. Here are some previews and predictions.

Anthony Joshua 14-0 (14) v Dillian Whyte 16-0 (13)

December 12 should be the end of a rivalry that goes back 6 years to when Dillian ‘The Villain’ Whyte beat Olympic champion Anthony Joshua as an amateur.

Whyte turned pro first and raced to a 9-0 record before he was banned for two years after testing positive for banned supplement (MHA). On his return he has wasted no time fighting 7 times in less than a year winning all by knockout. Fans and media were critical of his last performance against experienced Brian Minto but he has come a long way since joining up with trainer Jonathon Banks. Whyte will be looking to derail the AJ phenomenon and get a world title shot himself.

So far Joshua has been relatively flawless as a pro fighter. He has stepped up his level of opposition gradually, to gradual for some, and he seems to still be finding things easy. Whyte will be a good test of AJ’s skill and his composure because he will want to knock him out. If he wins Eddie Hearn plans to put him in for the European title before he challenges Wilder or Klitschko.

Prediction: The amateur fight bares no reflection to this one. Joshua has improved tenfold and although I rate Whyte I think he gets hit too much.

Joshua KO 4-6

Luis Ortiz 23-0 (20) v Bryant Jennings 19-1 (10)

Cuban power puncher Luis Ortiz is already looking past this fight on December 19 against American Bryant Jennings to Deontay Wilder. The 36 year old boasts a reported amateur record of 343-19 and is tearing through the division at present. Ortiz most impressive performance thus far was against fellow unbeaten fighter Nigerian Lateef Kayode in September 2014. Ortiz destroyed him in 1 round sending Kayode scarpering down to the cruiserweight division to challenge Denis Lebedev. The result was switched to a no-contest however after Ortiz failed a drug test and was subsequently banned for six months. He has won twice since but Jennings is a step up.

The bout is for the interim WBA title so the winner is more likely to face Ruslan Chagaev (WBA regular champion) than Deontay Wilder. Jennings will have learned a lot from his points defeat to Wladimir Klitschko given that he has a modest amateur record of 13-4 and that was only his 20th pro fight. He showed he could handle Klitschko’s punches and fought back well in occasional spells. Jennings has talent no doubt and a long 84″ reach with a solid jab. He can be a bit lazy and needed to rally to beat Cuban Mike Perez after hardly throwing a punch in the first half of the fight. It will be interesting to see this fight as both will feel they can beat Ruslan Chagaev or Deontay Wilder.

Prediction: Ortiz could prove to be one of the best heavyweights in the division so Jennings won’t be able to win from his defensive shell he sometimes operates under. Ortiz is a good boxer, powerful and busy so I expect him to win.

Ortiz UD 12

Erkan Teper 15-0 (10) v Robert Helenius 21-0 (13)

A very interesting fight is taking place on 19 December between current and former European champions Erkan Teper and Robert Helenius. Helenius has home advantage in Helsinki, Finland as he looks to catapult his stop-start career. Helenius is an enigmatic character, switching between spells of inactivity and non-stop fighting. His performance levels are also erratic as he looked good in ending the careers of Lamont Brewster (eye injury) and Samuel Peter beating them with 9th round stoppages. Conversely he looked poor in a controversial split decision victory over Derek Chisora and another points win over fellow Brit Michael Sprott. After his win over Sprott he didn’t fight for two years attributed largely to promotional contract issues with Team Sauerland. Helenius has fought twice this year against journeyman opposition so Teper is a huge step up.

This fight is a big risk for Erkan Teper as the dangerous Helenius is unranked by any of the 4 governing bodies due to his inactivity. Teper is ranked #9 WBC, #12 WBA, #5 IBF, #10 WBO so he will be looking for world honours soon. Teper also has some impressive wins in his short career of 15 fights. He has outpointed recent WBC title challenger Johan Duhaupas and destroyed David Price in 2 rounds to win the European crown. His only shared opponent with Helenius is Michael Sprott who he knocked out in 1 round compared to Helenius points win.

Prediction: Although Helenius is more experienced I think he has been out of the ring too long at a decent level. Teper has a good engine and will apply pressure. Helenius is strong but he struggled with Chisora and Teper has a great chance.

Teper UD 12

My ranking

1. Luis Ortiz
2. Anthony Joshua
3. Bryant Jennings
4. Erkan Teper
5. Dillian Whyte
6. Robert Helenius

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