Top Ten Heavyweights, 12/29/07
By Hunter Breckenridge: I haven't done a top ten list in a few months. However, not much has changed in the heavyweight division, especially in the top 5. Wlad is still number 1, but hasn't fought since July. Maskaev and Peter have yet to get it on. A lot of the new fighters seem to be in more by default than anything else. Liakhovich has dropped out of the rankings due to inactivity. Obviously, Brock, Byrd, and Brewster are out of the top ten, yet it was a chore to find heavies truly worthy of replacing them..
Article posted on 30.12.2007
Chambers, Virchis, Povetkin? Sure they're good, but when prospects have to fill out the top ten, that's a sign of a shallow talent pool. After the top half dozen or so heavies, the rest of the top 30 consists of prospects, retreads, glorified journeymen, and the ambling corpse of Evander Holyfield.
1.) Wladimir Klitschko - The best heavyweight in the world may finally begin to unify. A fight against WBO trinket-holder Sultan Ibragimov is one of the better fights that can be made in cementing division supremacy. However, the winner will have to deal with two separate mandatory challengers. If Wlad does win, the titles may not stay unified for long. (Ranked #1 on 07/18 list
2.) Ruslan Chagaev - Chagaev leapfrogged Sam Peter based less on the strength of his recent competition (impressive as it has been) and more on Peter's poor showing against McCline. Indeed, Chagaev pulling out of a unification fight against Ibragimov was disappointing. Let's hope he doesn't pull a Maskaev and sit on his belt without fighting worthy competitors. Matt Skelton isn't a bad opponent, but hopefully if he wins, he can find something more meaningful. (Ranked #3 on 07/18 list)
3.) Samuel Peter - Mr. Peter took a hit in my ratings thanks to the surprisingly solid fists of Jameel McCline. While Sam deservedly won the decision, his reputation suffered thanks to three early-round knockdowns. The normally iron-chinned Nigerian was very close to being knocked out in the 3rd round by a fighter that would barely crack a top 30 list. Considering Mr. McCline once stood toe to toe with Chris Byrd and lost, this does not speak well for Mr. Peter. However, Oleg Maskaev should not get too overconfident. Sam Peter is still a threat, and may yet win the actual WBC trinket when (or if) they eventually meet. (Ranked #2 on 07/18 list)
4.) Sultan Ibragimov - Ibragimov boxed his way to a dull and fairly dominant decision against a nearly 45 year old Evander Holyfield. He looked reasonably quick and skilled, however, he did not show anything that should make Klitschko tremble with fear. Ibragimov will need to do more than move around and flick the jab, a tactic which tends to fail in a fistfight with Mr. Klitschko. (Ranked #5 on 07/18 list)
5.) Oleg Maskaev - Yet another delay, this time due to injury. Oleg is apparently doing his best Vitali impersonation. Hopefully he will finally take on Samuel Peter as scheduled in March. Peter's surprisingly shaky performance against McCline may give Oleg additional confidence. However, he can't get cocky, because Sam has more than enough power to send Maskaev home on a stretcher. (Ranked #4 on 07/18 list)
6.) Nicolay Valuev - “The Russian Giant” is scheduled for a WBA title eliminator against Sergei Liakhovich. The winner will become the mandatory challenger to the winner of Chagaev - Skelton. Valuev's biggest advantage (other than tonnage) is that Liakhovich hasn't fought in over a year. The loser probably drops out of my top ten. (Ranked #6 on 07/18 list)
7.) Tony Thompson - Tony has moved up the list more because of the exits of other fighters than because of his accomplishments. Still, he has quietly built a solid resume (by current standards), and is a dangerous opponent for any current heavyweight. (Ranked #10 on 07/18 list)
8.) Alexander Povetkin - He impressively stopped Chris Byrd in the first round of the IBF elimination tournament. It's rare that a fighter jumps from prospect to contender this early in his career. (Unranked on 07/18 list)
9.) Vladimir Virchis - I hate to keep saying this, but here is another fighter in the top ten mostly by default. Best wins are against Paolo Vidoz and Michael Sprott. Was outboxed by the much smaller Chagaev in his only loss. Good puncher, but would be an underdog against most of the top ten. (Unranked on 07/18 list)
10.) Eddie Chambers - Outboxed Calvin Brock to set up a fight with Alexander Povetkin. Very quick and agile for a heavyweight, but, without much power. Eddie is also small for the division. The obvious style comparison would be to Chris Byrd. Chris managed to overcome his size and strength disadvantages to remain a top contender and belt-holder for a decade. Can Eddie manage to do the same? Beating (or at least fighting well against) Alex Povetkin would be a great first step. (Unranked on 07/18 list)
Not Quite Top Ten (In no particular order) -
John Ruiz - Ruiz looked pretty good against a no-hoper, but he has not beaten a top contender in years.
Sergei Liakhovich - Inactivity has forced "The White Wolf" off my list. A win over Valuev would get him back up.
Chris Arreola - This young buzz saw is making progress, but time will tell if he's the next Joe Frazier or the next Joe Grimm. David Tua would make a for a great test (and a fun fight).
Chris Byrd - Chris should move down to cruiser if he wants to continue. He showed grit against Povetkin, but was too small and too old.
Calvin Brock - Can Brock still be a factor? Maybe, but he clearly needs to avoid heavyweights faster than himself. Oliver McCall, anyone?
Lamon Brewster - Brewster may not have the desire to be a top contender anymore. However, he's proven the critics wrong before.
Alexander Dimintreko - Massive Ukrainian has the tools to be a top heavy. Having said that, he needs to be matched up against better fighters to prove it.
Hasim Rahman - Mr. Rahman certainly looked pretty bad against Zuri Lawrence. He still makes the same mistakes he always has. Probably done as a serious contender.
David Tua - I have always been a fan of Mr. Tua, but the Samoan slugger needs to step it up soon, if he wants to remain relevant.
Joe Mesi - At his best, Joe might have just barely cracked the bottom of the top ten. He's only gotten older and slower. Like Tua or Rahman, he also needs to fight someone relevant or hang it up.
Juan Carlos Gomez - The former cruiserweight recently beat a geriatric Oliver McCall. Like so many of the top 10-30 heavies, he's running out of time.
Jameel McCline - Poor Jameel. He came thisclose to beating a consensus top 5 heavy, but once again fell short. Still, he clearly has something left.
Matt Skelton - The top British heavyweight is getting a shot at Ruslan Chagaev. He'll be the underdog, but certainly a live one.
Andrew Golota - Wore down Kevin McBride in a fairly decent win. Now scheduled to face Mike Mollo. If he wins, he may get yet another shot at a belt or top contender. “The Foul Pole” has had more second chances than even Jameel McCline.
Kali Meehan - Knocked out DaVarryl Williamson in a mild upset. He'll probably never get a major belt, but will remain a dangerous opponent for anybody outside of the top ten.
Vitali Klitschko - Will he fight again? Can he even get out of bed without hurting himself? Should he hang 'em up for good? Who knows?
David Haye - "The Hayemaker" was headed for the heavyweight division, but he appears to be hanging around the cruisers for at least one more fight.
Odlanier Solis - Strong, heavy-handed, and tough. Also short and plodding. Needs to be in better shape. However, he still has huge potential. Sounds like the next Sam Peter.
Kevin Johnson - Good skills, good size, pillows for fists. Still a prospect at this point.
previous article: Haye v. Maccarinelli– Let’s be realistic
next article: Closing Thought on 2007: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and the State of American Boxing