Wilder, Joshua, Fury — who is No 1?

Anthony Joshua gets a right hand past the defences of Andy Ruiz jun during their heavyweight...
Anthony Joshua gets a right hand past the defences of Andy Ruiz jun during their heavyweight title rematch in Saudi Arabia in December. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
As Deontay Wilder gets ready to take on Tyson Fury in Las Vegas tomorrow, Dunedin boxing analyst Jack Salter rates his top 10 current heavyweights.

Daniel Dubois

14 wins (13 KO), 0 losses

At 22, Dubois is the future of the heavyweight division.

With rankings of three (WBO) and 11 (WBC), the Brit has a menacing presence with legitimate knockout power in both hands.

He is yet to face a top-tier fighter but signs point to him succeeding when he faces fellow undefeated Brit Joe Joyce in April.

Kubrat Pulev

28 (14 KO), 1

Pulev is a busy puncher with a wealth of experience.

What the Bulgarian lacks in finishing power he makes up for in ringmanship.

Since turning professional in 2009, Pulev’s only loss came in 2014 to then undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko.

While the 38-year-old Pulev is in the twilight of his career he will be looking to make every punch count when the mandatory IBF challenger takes on Anthony Joshua in June.

Luis Ortiz

31 (26 KO), 2, 2 no contest

Nicknamed King Kong, the Cuban southpaw is renowned for his fierce punching power combined with a solid technique.

With a decent resume, Ortiz has easily disposed of all but one of his opponents, going down to WBC champion Deontay Wilder.

In 2018, the 40-year-old had Wilder in real trouble at the end of round seven before being stopped in round 10.

In the rematch, Ortiz was winning every round until he was knocked out in spectacular fashion in round seven.

Age is Ortiz’s biggest barrier.

Andy Ruiz jun

33 (22 KO), 2

Nicknamed he Destroyer Ruiz lived up to his name and wrote himself into the history books with possibly the biggest upset the division has seen when he knocked out unified champion Anthony Joshua in June last year.

Dropping him four times, the unfavoured Mexican stopped Joshua in round seven before turning up for the rematch in terrible physical condition and being beaten over 12 rounds in December.

Ranked highly with fast hands and loads of power, Ruiz is feared but has to sort out his diet to get another title shot.

Oleksandr Usyk

17 (13 KO), 0 (16-0 cruiserweight, 1-0 heavyweight)

The joker of the pack, Usyk became the first cruiserweight in history to hold all four major belts before making the leap up to heavyweight last year.

While looking far from destructive in that round seven retirement win over journeyman Chazz Witherspoon, the Ukrainian southpaw was carrying an injury while also finding his feet in the division.

With fine stamina, great footwork and good hands, the 33-year-old has the pedigree to go far in the division, but whether he can handle the power of the elite and taller men in the land of the giants remains to be seen.

He looks set to face Englishman Dereck Chisora later this year.

Joseph Parker

26 (20 KO), 2

Remembered for his creditable losses against Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018, the 28-year-old former WBO champion is very much a player in the division.

While he lacks a certain mongrel that heavyweights need, he makes up for with a fine chin, a strong jab and a dogged determination.

Against Joshua, he never got a fair go with a referee determined to keep the fighters apart and, for want of another minute, he would have beaten Whyte who got away with all sorts of dirty tactics.

He is set to face no-name Shandell Winters next weekend in what should be a formality before the WBO No2 looks for a possible showdown with Usyk.

Dillian Whyte

27 (18 KO), 1

Rough, tough and uncompromising.

If the 31-year-old Englishman is fighting you know it is going to be entertaining.

“The body snatcher” is rarely in a dull fight and he is constantly in the face of his opponents, whether it be with dubious tactics or power punching.

After an inconclusive drug test last year, Whyte was reinstated as the WBC interim champion in December where he waits as the mandatory for Wilder.

He just needs to stay active.

Tyson Fury

29 (20 KO), 0 1 draw

At 2.05m, Fury is the giant of the division with the best footwork and head movement accompanied by some terrific hand speed.

In 2015, he became lineal champion in a career-defining performance when he dethroned Wladimir Klitschko before a host of issues, including mental health, doping and drug problems saw him fall away and balloon in weight to an unrecognisable figure.

Made a comeback in 2018 before fighting to draw with Wilder later that year, despite being dropped twice, including almost being knocked out in round 12.

If he beats Wilder his overall skill set could be a real nightmare for Joshua.

Anthony Joshua

23 (21 KO), 1

Following his loss to Ruiz, the 2m Brit showed he is more than just a puncher when he pushed through adversity to outbox Ruiz, winning via unanimous decision.

Rightly criticised for being too bulky, Joshua came in 10 pounds lighter and it showed in his better movement.

While there are still a few question marks over just how good his chin is, the 30-year-old WBA, IBF and WBO champion has some decent speed, good punch variety and real power.

He is yet to face his two biggest threats in Fury and Wilder, but he cannot avoid Wilder forever and should Wilder defeat Fury the drums will loudly beat for both men to stop the excuses and finally face off.

He fights Pulev in June and then must decide whether to face Usyk as the WBO mandatory or vacate.

Deontay Wilder

42 (41 KO), 0, 1 draw

Not since Mike Tyson has there been a heavyweight with legitimate one-punch knockout power.

While he is not the most technically appealing, the 34-year-old Wilder is the most destructive.

He has a formidable right hand and, since becoming the WBC champion in 2015, he has finished 10 opponents.

In a division in which power means everything, the 2m-plus Wilder is the most dangerous and the man to beat.

 

Who wins tomorrow?

Wilder has a habit of doing well against guys he is facing second up.

While Bermane Stiverne is not in the league of Fury, Wilder finished him the second time in one round and, while Ortiz outboxed Wilder in their second fight, you got the feeling Wilder was biding his time and waiting for an opening.

If Fury can stay away from too much engagement and boxes from range he walks away with the win but if Wilder lands big he hands Fury his first loss and probably by knockout Wilder wins.

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