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The heavyweight form guide

heavyweight Tyson Fury
Action Images/REUTERS/Mike Segar
After several thrilling bouts, the heavyweight division might just have entered that golden era we’ve been dreaming of. Matt Christie examines the current field

TYSON FURY
England, 30 years old, 28-0-1 (20)

Last Fight:
An impressive two-round blitzing of Germany’s Tom Schwarz hopefully achieved two things: Firstly, the exhibition makes Fury a top attraction in the USA and, secondly, it should lead to the sacking of whoever in the WBO ratings committee sanctioned Schwarz’s placement at No. 2 in the world.

Tyson Fury
Fury is in control against Schwarz Action Images/REUTERS/Mike Segar

Next Fight:
With a rematch against WBC champion Deontay Wilder in the offing for early next year, Tyson is expected to return on September 28 in New York. The disgraced Jarrell Miller is among the favourites to get the gig even though he should not be allowed near a boxing ring. Sadly, in 2019, it’s sellable. Add to that Fury likely bamboozling Miller and you can see why Top Rank would make it. However, Bob Arum has suggested that Fury might now wait until the Wilder fight becomes available before fighting again. Keeping Fury out of action does not seem the wisest plan, however.

Best Attribute:
Aside from the charisma he oozes when in the right mood, Fury’s boxing skills are the best in the division. He gets the most out of his 6ft 9ins frame while remaining light on his feet, and can whack when he plants them. That ability to switch stances at any moment might just be the ace in his pack. Oh, and having Top Rank overseeing his development in the USA isn’t too shabby, either.

Worst Attribute:
Reliance on his reactions. He can lose concentration, he showboats too much, and, on occassion, he stands square on. All minor gripes but even Schwarz tagged him a few times.

Trainer:
In Ben Davsion, Fury has found the perfect match. Plenty doubted the young coach when he was initially installed, but he has exceeded all expectation.

Could come unstuck against:
Wilder. Though Fury contained him for much of their 2018 bout, he failed to when it mattered the most. But perhaps the biggest rival to Fury is Fury himself; the former heavyweight champion must retain his desire and focus and not get distracted outside of the ring.

Hall of Fame bound?
If he beats Wilder next year you might as well start engraving the plaque.

***

DEONTAY WILDER
USA, 33 years old, 41-0-1 (40)

Last Fight:
In the space of 137 furious seconds, Wilder showed off his best and worst, hurting Dominic Breazeale early only to get overzealous and tagged himself, before ending matters with one humongous swipe of his right.

deontay wilder

Next Fight:
We’re told it will be a rematch with Cuban Luis Ortiz in September. No date or venue has been set, but the veteran is a dangerous foe. Ortiz came close to upsetting Wilder before being halted in the 10th of their March 2018 humdinger.

Best Attribute:
Wilder need never worry about forgetting his house keys. That right hand of his can break through doors and – if they stand in front of him for long enough – any heavyweight on the planet.

Worst Attribute:
Wilder is not difficult to hit nor is he particularly adept at boxing to orders. He overreaches and is far too reliant on his knockout ability. It defies all logic that he remains unbeaten with such obvious flaws, but that bloody-minded gargantuan power, that more than balances out those flaws, also sets him apart from so many.

Trainer:
Jay Deas is the lead trainer and won Wilder’s trust a long time ago. Mark Breland is also involved.

Could come unstuck against:
Ortiz, Fury, Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz Jnr, Oleksandr Usyk. Anyone who can box and move, or punch hard and fast without carelessness. But how many of those mentioned can survive his power? Only Fury, who got up twice to end their contest in total control, has so far offered any real evidence to suggest he can.

Hall of Fame bound?
Easy to scoff given that perceived lack of boxing skill. But what Wilder, a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, has achieved is huge. WBC champion since 2015 and with nine successful defences under his belt, Wilder’s bare statistics measure up when compared to some of history’s finest. A win over Fury would further strengthen his case.

***

ANTHONY JOSHUA
England, 29 years old, 22-1 (21)

Last Fight:
In a wake-up call of the ages, Joshua was handed a humbling seventh round beating by Andy Ruiz Jnr. In the aftermath, there were conspiracy theories aplenty, ranging from him having a full-blown panic attack before the fight to being allowed to box while concussed (after supposedly getting knocked out in sparring). The reality, even if he was hurt in training, is likely that he was over-confident, too carefree, and was beaten fair and square by the hungrier fighter.

Anthony Joshua

Next Fight:
Hopes to rematch Ruiz in November or December, either in the UK or the USA.

Best Attribute:
Fast, powerful hands and, when going forward, he can be formidable. Those who claim Joshua was ‘out of it’ long before the opening bell sounded against Ruiz should perhaps rewatch the start of round three when “AJ” put Ruiz down from two superbly crafted shots. Rediscovering the focus that drove him to the top in the first place could turn out to be his biggest advantage from here on in.

Worst Attribute:
His survival instincts are lacking. When in trouble, he does not fight well on the inside, he does not seem able to hold and buy some time. And he’ll likely be saddled with having dodgy whiskers for the rest of his career, even if he’s never dropped again.

Trainer:
The excellent Robert McCracken has guided Joshua a long, long way. He’s the best man to get the heavyweight back to his best.

Could come unstuck against:
Exceptionally risky to go straight back in with Ruiz. It wasn’t a one-punch knockout that can be written off as a fluke, it was a harrowing beatdown. Another loss would be catastrophic.

Hall of Fame bound?
Not at the moment. But if he flattens Ruiz in the return, he’s back on the right track.

***

ANDY RUIZ
England, 29 years old, 33-1 (22)

Last Fight:
After getting decked in round three against Joshua he launched himself at the favourite and scored with a left hook that turned the fight on its head. The baby-faced Ruiz went on to score one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, dropping Joshua four times, winning the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, and becoming an overnight superstar in the process.

Andy Ruiz

Next Fight:
Reports suggest it’s Joshua again (as per their contracted agreement) at the end of the year but, considering he’s under the Premier Boxing Champions banner, it would not be a surprise to see Ruiz taking on someone else. PBC, who also have ties with WBC boss Wilder, may spy an opportunity for absolute takeover.

Best Attribute:
His puppy dog demeanour was a useful attribute for lulling an all-conquering superstar into a false sense of security but that disguise won’t work a second time. In truth, his fast, powerful hands, positioned by nimble feet, were excellent against Joshua. His boxing brain, also, was far in advance of his opponent’s.

Worst Attribute:
It might now be self-discipline. There have been suggestions that he’s struggled with this in the past, but now he’s rich and famous, surely the temptation to indulge will be harder than ever to resist. His short reach could turn out be a hefty disadvantage against the wrong opponent.

Trainer:
Few better trainers to have in the corner than Manny Robles, whose belief in Ruiz was clear long before the first bell.

Could come unstuck against:
Anyone, frankly. In the same way that Joshua didn’t turn into a bad fighter overnight, Ruiz did not become an invincible one. That said, he should only target those at the top of the division.

Hall of Fame bound?
He’ll need more than a massive upset victory, just ask Buster Douglas.

***

DILLIAN WHYTE
England, 31 years old, 25-1 (18)

Long overdue a world title shot, Whyte must now wonder if he made the right call when turning down the chance to fight Anthony Joshua at Wembley in April. Takes on the dangerous Oscar Rivas on July 20 in a risky bout that promoter Eddie Hearn hopes will lead to an immediate shot at WBC champion, Deontay Wilder.

Dillian Whyte

***

OLEKSANDR USYK
Ukraine, 32 years old, 16-0 (12)

Impossible to judge his heavyweight form because he’s yet to fight in the division since relinquishing his cruiserweight titles. Even so, with those supreme skills, visions of the slick and spiteful Usyk bedazzling allcomers are easy to conjure. However, the southpaw will have to overcome some serious size disadvantages.

Oleksandr Usyk

***

KUBRAT PULEV
Bulgaria, 38 years old, 27-1 (14)

The perennial contender is unbeaten since being knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Technically sound and hard to beat, the IBF mandatory contender won’t be at the top of any heavyweight’s hit list. Even so, he’s fading, and, at 38, probably only one loss away from being dramatically relegated to gatekeeper status.

Dereck Chisora vs Kubrat Pulev

***

OSCAR RIVAS
Colombia, 32 years old, 26-0 (18)

Scored a minor upset in January when he stopped Bryant Jennings in 12 rounds to set up the intriguing summer showdown with Dillian Whyte. Far from flawless, the Colombian will come to fight nonetheless and carries the kind of power and engine that should worry his opponent. Don’t write off another Rivas surprise.

***

JOSEPH PARKER
NZ, 27 years old, 25-2 (19)

After coming close to beating Dillian Whyte last year, one wonders if Matchroom’s latest signing, who lost his WBO title to Anthony Joshua in 2017, really has what it takes to trouble the leaders. But Parker, still only 27, could yet make the most of his recent education. Expect him to dominate Alex Leapai this weekend (June 29).

heavyweight

***

DERECK CHISORA
England, 35 years old, 30-9 (21)

The British hero refuses to give up but his history of taking heavy punches will catch up with him sooner rather than later. May have just enough left to get past Artur Szpilka on July 20 but hard to see him then beating someone like Joseph Parker to earn a title shot. Treasure him for as long as he’s here, though. It’s been a wild ride.

Chisora heavyweight

***

LUIS ORTIZ
Cuba, 40 years old, 31-1 (26)

Unranked by BN due to his history of getting busted for performance enhancing drugs (we have a two strikes and you’re out rule). However, Ortiz, even at his advanced age, remains one of the most skilled and dangerous fighters outside of the titlists. Even so, probably too old to improve on his loss to Wilder in their return.

heavyweight

***

BEST OF THE REST
Some others to keep an eye on

Brooklyn-based Pole Adam Kownacki should finish Chris Arreola in August… Croatia’s Filip Hrgovic, Joe Joyce and the winner of Daniel Dubois-Nathan Gorman are among the best prospects… Hughie Fury and Michael Hunter are on the fringes while ageing drug cheat Alexander Povetkin returns on July 12… And the winner of David Price-Dave Allen on July 20 will no doubt figure again later in the year.

1 Comment

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  • The dismissive tone of the Anthony Joshua write-up seems to reflect the current lousy attitude of this magazine towards Joshua at the moment whilst hanging on drug cheat Tyson Fury’s every utterance. To also not mention the problems that COULD have affected Joshua at MSG (injury and/or illness) and to not mention his strange behaviour and how he looked before the fight even started BUT mention what COULDN’T have affected him seems overly simplistic and deliberately obtuse. I hope Joshua KOs Ruiz Jr in their rematch if only to listen to the sound of certain writers of this magazine gagging on their words.

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