By Gav Duthie: Even with the surprise retirement of pound-for-pound #1 Andre Ward 32-0 (16), the 175lb Light Heavyweight division is by far the best and most talented division in boxing. Big punching Russians dominate the titles with Sergey Kovalev WBO, Artur Beterbiev IBF and Dimitry Bivol WBA and possible unification bouts between them is a mouthwatering prospect.
Beterbiev holds two amateur wins over Kovalev and Bivol looks like he could be the best of them all. Adonis Stevenson WBC is still winning at 40 years old with 8 successful defenses of his title, but pressure is on him to be in big fights. It is in an incredible turnaround of a division that was probably the worst in boxing at the start of the decade. The potential for big fights and the quality of the contenders is incredible.
Light Heavyweight 2010
Jean Pascal WBC
Tavoris Cloud IBF
Nathan Cleverly WBO
Beibut Shumenov WBA
The quality of champions at the start of the decade was nowhere in comparison to now. These were all decent fighters but even a mid-40s Bernard Hopkins came in and took titles from Cloud and Shumenov. Artur Beterbiev destroyed former champions like Gabriel Campillo after only half a dozen fights. The champions today are superb and there are plenty of contenders that can take their titles.
The Chasing Pack
Badou Jack 22-1-2 (13)
Joe Smith Jnr 23-2 (19)
Oleksandr Gvozdyk 14-0 (12)
Sullivan Barrera 21-1 (14)
Marcus Browne 20-0 (15)
Eleider Alvarez 23-0 (11)
Anthony Yarde 14-0 (13)
Anyone of these fighters could become champions. The first 6 in 2018 and Yarde maybe in another two years. Barrera already has a shot against Bivol in a few months and he will fancy his chances after a great 2017. Jack is likely to get a shot at Stevenson next also. Both are capable of winning, but it also might just show how good the champions are. Smith Jnr is game but would be relying on a big punch to become champion. Gvozdyk and Browne seem to have a bit of everything and are gunning for title shots. Stevenson keeps saying mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez isn’t big enough, but he has done all he can in beating up the next best Canadians in Bute and Pascal. This could be a spectacular year for 175lbs and there is always the chance that Andre Ward might come back.
Top 5 fights I’d most like to see (in order)
1. Sergey Kovalev v Artur Beterbiev
2. Adonis Stevenson v Sergey Kovalev
3. Dimitry Bivol v Oleksand Gzovdyk
4. Adonis Stevenson v Badou Jack
5. Joe Smith Jnr v Marcus Browne