Building on the heavyweight buzz

By Boxing News - 10/17/2021 - Comments

By Gav Duthie: The boxing world was distraught when the court of arbitration ruined the chance for the only ever four main-belt undisputed championship fight at heavyweight to happen. Of course, it was still possible, but Anthony Joshua had to get through his part against Oleksandr Usyk, and Tyson Fury had to repeat his success over Deontay Wilder.

Fury passed, but AJ failed, so again, we wait. In the meantime, there are still lots of fights we can look forward to. The Fury-Wilder trilogy has reignited the division, and it needs to be built upon to keep the fans. If we can’t follow it up with Fury-AJ, then what else. Here are my top 10 alternative fights.

In no particular order:

Deontay Wilder 42-2-1 (41) v Robert Helenius 31-3 (20)

Finally, Robert Helenius had his best night as Wilder lost later on. Helenius deserves a big fight. He was considered a big prospect when he retired Lamont Brewster as far back as 2009, but inconsistency and inactivity worked against him. These guys worked together as sparring partners for their respective fights, but this could be an interesting one for a potential Wilder comeback.

Likelihood – 7/10
Prediction – Wilder KO 7

Frank Sanchez 19-0 (13) v Luis Ortiz 32-2 (27)

Have any Cuban’s faced each other as professionals. They normally don’t have the fanbase, but Sanchez is a hot ticket after defeating Ajagba, and Ortiz doesn’t fight like he’s Cuban. This would probably be another situation like Ajagba with Ortiz stalking, but he can cut off the ring better and deserves one last chance at a big fight. If Sanchez can beat Ortiz, a title shot would be very close.

Likelihood – 6/10
Prediction – Sanchez UD

Image: Building on the heavyweight buzz

Anthony Joshua 24-2 (22) v Oleksandr Usyk 19-0 (13)

We know this one is happening as a rematch clause has been exercised. Put quite simply, Joshua needs to do something different to get by Usyk, but people question if he can.

Likelihood – 10/10
Prediction – Usyk UD

Joe Joyce 13-0 (12) v Joseph Parker 29-2 (21) or Derek Chisora 32-11 (23)

To cement his status as mandatory to the WBO, a win over either of these fighters would be good for Joe Joyce. Joyce was waiting for AJ v Fury to be announced, then had to wait for AJ-Usyk, and now has to wait again, so it makes sense for him to keep busy in the interim.

Likelihood – 7/10 Parker, 4/10 Chisora
Prediction – Joyce UD for both

Tyson Fury 31-0-1 (22) v Dillian Whyte 28-2 (19) or Otto Wallin 22-1 (14)

If the WBC don’t order this, I expect that Frank Warren might try and make Fury v Joyce as they are both Queensbury/BT fighters. If Whyte beats Wallin, there can be no doubt that he deserves the Fury fight, and nothing else should stand in his way.

Likelihood – 7/10
Prediction – Fury UD

Andy Ruiz 34-2 (22) v Michael Hunter 20-1-1 (14)

Just a fun-filled all-American fight. These guys have lost three fights between them to Joseph Parker, Oleksandr Usyk, and Anthony Joshua, that’s it. Hunter signed a big fight deal with Triller, but recent events suggest Triller won’t be in this for the long haul.

Image: Building on the heavyweight buzz

Ruiz needed a rest after a thrilling but draining comeback against Arreola. Both these guys could use the other to get a title shot. Hunter worked with Ruiz to prepare for AJ, but I imagine they would still be interested in facing the other.

Likelihood – 5/10
Prediction – Ruiz SD

Trevor Bryan 21-0 (15) v Daniel Dubois 17-1 (16)

The owner of the WBA regular title and the number 1 ranked, how hard can it be. With the WBA, anything can happen. Manuel Charr still doesn’t see why he isn’t champion after losing it because of a Visa, Don King promotes Bryan, and he is hanging on to the sport by his fingertips and rarely seems to be able to get fights over the line. Dubois might be better waiting to fight Usyk or continue his rebuild after his loss to Joyce.

Likelihood – 5/10
Prediction – Dubois KO 6

Tony Yoka 11-0 (9) v Filip Hrgovic 13-0 (11)

A rematch of the 2016 Olympic semi-final. A lot is made of the fact people feel Joyce was robbed in the final, but there is an argument that Hrgovic should have won the semi-final. Hrgovic is in line to fight in a final eliminator for the IBF, but nobody seems to want to fight him. Charles Martin is the highest-ranked, so that is also possible, but Yoka is #6, and these two have history.

Likelihood – 7/10
Prediction – Hrgovic UD

Martin Bakole 17-1 (13) v Fabio Wardley 12-0 (11)

Bakole isn’t British, but he has based himself in Scotland for years and built a good fanbase. Wardley is a big prospect in the Matchroom stable, as is Bakole, but he still boxes on many different shows. This would be massively entertaining, with both going for a knockout. This would be a huge step up for former footballer Wardley and a risk that maybe would be too much at this stage. Alen Babic v Bakole would be great too.

Likelihood – 5/10
Prediction – Bakole KO 9

Arslanbek Makhmudov 13-0 (13) v Murat Gassiev 28-1 (21)

An all-Russian battle that is sure to be fireworks, Makhmudov is a quality amateur who just annihilated Erkan Teper in 1 round who was a reasonably decent contender himself a few years back. At 32, he needs another big win to give himself a jump to the big boys league. Gassiev is only 28, but he took a lot of time off after his Usyk defeat but has come back with a few low-key but impressive performances. If he wants to announce himself as a proper heavyweight like Usyk, he needs to beat a proper one quickly.

Likelihood – 5/10
Prediction – Gassiev UD