Boxing’s marquee division is booming right now, and our heavyweight rankings are designed to help you navigate a complicated landscape.
There are intriguing fights in the remaining weeks of 2020, with Anthony Joshua due to fight in December following that Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce showdown on November 28.
In the meantime we have updated our world top 10 on the back of that win for Oleksandr Usyk against Dereck Chisora, plus recent victories for Luis Ortiz, Filip Hrgovic and Zhilei Zhang.
Heavyweight rankings: World top 10
Our rankings are based on achievement and analysis, and they ignore the current ratings of the sport’s alphabet sanctioning bodies. And they will be updated after all major fights affecting our top 10:
The WBC, Ring magazine and lineal world heavyweight champion, Fury thoroughly deserves his position atop the mountain right now following a career-best performance in dismantling Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch last time out. That sensational performance came with ‘SugarHill’ Steward and Andy Lee in his corner for the first time, and many experts believe there is yet more to come from ‘The Gypsy King’. Fury’s comeback from the brink of ring oblivion is already one of the greatest in a sport with a rich history of incredible back stories. The road to a showdown with Joshua is not without hurdles, but should he navigate it, Fury could go down as one of the division’s all-time greats. Had been due to fight in London on December 5 (likely against German Agit Kabayel), but will now not return until 2021.
Next Fight: tbc
It’s amazing how much one fight can change everything – and in heavyweight boxing one round or even one punch. Joshua was carrying all before him as we moved into June 2019 and the IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight king prepared for his big Stateside debut at Madison Square Garden – the spiritual home of the sport. But late stand-in and 30/1 outsider Andy Ruiz Jr wrecked everything by handing AJ a first professional defeat. Joshua though didn’t complain, rolled up his sleeves, adopted a more circumspect game plan and immediately regained his belts with a comfortable unanimous decision in the rematch with Ruiz Jr. That outing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last December proved that Joshua can be the boxer as well as the puncher, that he has adaptability and the ability to fight through adversity. Many believe he is still improving, the next 12 months should tell us.
3 Deontay Wilder (42-1-1)
Wilder deserves to remain in the top three as there is simply not evidence yet to shuffle him down the heavyweight pack. Was that stunning demolition at the hands of Fury him being exposed for his technical flaws at the very highest level? Or were those post-fight excuses valid and will he come again? ‘The Bronze Bomber’ has found a way back when he’s been down in fights in the past – normally by the sport’s most frightening equaliser, his right hand. Can he do the same with his top-level career? We must wait to find out after his trilogy fight with Fury was cancelled for now.
Next Fight: tbc
4 Andy Ruiz Jr (33-2)
Ruiz Jr shocked the world in June 2019 when he dethroned Joshua in incredible style to become the IBF, WBA and WBO world heavyweight champion. The world appeared to be his oyster, or so it seemed. What happened in the next six months ahead of the inevitable rematch with Joshua wasn’t so spectacular. By the time the second meeting with Joshua came around – in Saudi Arabia in December – Ruiz Jr appeared to have been enjoying the fruits of his shock victory a little too much. He came in distinctly heavier and chubbier than he had for the first meeting, and was unable to get near Joshua as the Londoner boxed smartly from the outside to gain a convincing unanimous decision. It is not over for Ruiz Jr at the very top level, but he needs to prove he has the necessary application to get in shape to make the best use of his surprisingly fast hands and potential.
Next Fight: Andy Ruiz Jr vs Chris Arreola (late 2020)
5 Oleksandr Usyk (18-0)
The slick former cruiserweight king undoubtedly has the ring smarts and talent to be a big deal at heavyweight, but questions still remain about his ability to emulate Evander Holyfield. The Ukrainian duly outpointed Dereck Chisora in their pay-per-view show in London on October 31. But he did not do enough to merit belonging with the absolute elite on this updated world top 10 list. While Usyk is clearly a brilliant fighter with unquestionable skills, doubts remain about his power at heavyweight, and his ability to take big shots from big opponents. We’re not saying he won’t silence those doubts, we just need to see more.
Next Fight: tbc
6 Kubrat Pulev (28-1)
It’s taken six years for Pulev to get back to world-title level after being crushed by a rampant Wladimir Klitschko inside five rounds in Germany in 2014. But here Pulev is, as mandatory contender for Joshua’s IBF belt and scheduled to take on the Brit on Saturday December 12 at London’s O2 Arena. Pulev, now 39, owns a string of victories against top-level heavyweights, but not elite. Now we will find out whether he has what it takes at the top table. After their fight Klitschko did say Pulev possessed the best jab he’d faced, so that would be a useful weapon to make good use of against Joshua.
Next Fight: Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev (Saturday December 12)
7 Alexander Povetkin (36-2-1)
At the age of 40, Povetkin arrived at Matchroom Fight Camp as very much the underdog against world-title hopeful Dillian Whyte. But he arrived in top shape and of course with that impeccable pedigree (professional defeats only at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko and Joshua). On the night, Povetkin would not only prove that he still packs a formidable punch, but also that he retains all the resilience of his youth. The game looked just about up when he was dominated for the first four rounds and put down twice in the fourth. But ‘Sasha’ regrouped brilliantly and came back in the fifth to close the show with a picture-perfect left uppercut which literally put ‘The Body Snatcher’ to sleep. There will be no immediate title shot for Povetkin, instead he will rematch Whyte in January 2021. The rematch was initially scheduled for November 21, but was postponed after Povetkin was hospitalised following a positive test for COVID-19.
8 Dillian Whyte (27-2)
Saturday August 22 was meant to see Whyte take the final step to that elusive world-title shot. After waiting as mandatory contender for more than 1000 days, a win over Alexander Povetkin would net him a crack at the winner of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3. But those dreams were shattered when Whyte – after himself putting Povetkin down in round 4, was stopped by a brutal left uppercut from the Russian a round later. Now Whyte must regroup and will rematch Povetkin in January 2021 at London’s SSE Arena, Wembley. A win there and he would regain mandatory status, but a title shot right now seems a world away.
Next Fight: Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin 2 (Saturday January 30, 2021)
9 Joseph Parker (27-2)
Parker absolutely deserves his spot in the top 10 as a former WBO world champion and the first man to take Anthony Joshua the distance (Parker dropped a unanimous decision in their meeting in Cardiff back in 2018 after a highly respectable showing). Parker also lost his next bout after that meeting with AJ as he went down to Dillian Whyte, but has since started to rebuild back towards world-title reckoning with a trio of comfortable wins. Next up is a major domestic showdown with fellow Kiwi Junior Fa in Auckland on Friday December 11.
Dubois just nicks the final spot in our current top 10 from the vastly more seasoned Dereck ‘War’ Chisora. Premature maybe? Well the next few months should tell us if that’s the case. ‘Dynamite’ has been sensational in racking up a 15-0 professional record to date with 14 victories inside distance, but his next fight will up the ante significantly. He will face another unbeaten prospect Joe Joyce (11-0 with 10 inside) in a major domestic dust-up on Saturday November 28.
Honourable Mentions: Luis Ortiz, Filip Hrgovic and Zhilei Zhang all were all in action in the United States on Saturday November 7. But none of them did enough to merit breaking into our top 10. A victory inside 46 seconds for Ortiz (32-2) against Alexander Flores in Los Angeles told us little. Meanwhile Chinese giant Zhang (22-0) put in a respectable showing in Hollywood, Florida to stop Devin Vargas inside four rounds. Hrgovic (12-0), on the same show as Zhang, continued his run towards a potential title shot by crushing Rydell Booker in five one-sided rounds.
NB: Rankings updated on November 9, 2020.