Heavyweight rankings: Dubois back with a bang

Boxing’s marquee division is booming right now, and our heavyweight rankings are designed to help you navigate a complicated landscape.

There is much to look forward to as we go deeper into 2021, topped right now by Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3 (now likely to take place in October) and Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk likely in September. Oh, and maybe Fury vs Joshua before the end of 2021.

Our fully updated rankings give you an idea of how the division currently shapes up as we head deeper into the boxing year. Our latest updates include wins for young British star Daniel Dubois and unbeaten German Agit Kabayel.

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:

1 Tyson Fury (30-0-1)

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. Next up after a seismic few days in boxing politics is not the unification match with Joshua, but a trilogy showdown with Wilder. That bout – which had been planned for July 24 – is postponed and now moves to October 9 after Fury and members of his team contracted COVID-19.

Next Fight: Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3 (October 9)

2 Anthony Joshua (24-1)

IBF, WBA and WBO king Joshua appears now to be fully recovered from that shocking first professional defeat by Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019. The Watford man avenged that loss immediately when he outpointed Ruiz with a masterful boxing display in their rematch in Saudi Arabia in December 2019. A year on and when Joshua met Kubrat Pulev in London in December 2020, there were few signs of ring rust. AJ had the durable Bulgarian on the deck three times en route to a ninth-round knockout victory. Next up will be a tricky assignment against WBO mandatory challenger Oleksandr Usyk at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday September 25.

Next Fight: Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk (September 25)

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 hope to find out on October 9 when the trilogy with Fury finally goes down.

Next Fight: Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 3 (October 9)

4 Andy Ruiz Jr (34-2)

Maintains his position at #4 after returning from a 17-month hiatus with a unanimous decision over Chris Arreola in Carson, California. Andy was down in Round 2 and hurt badly in the third before recovering to post a comfortable victory. He again showed the high motor and blurring hand speed we know he possesses. And under the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso, he also appears to have found discipline – coming in 27lbs lighter than he did for the rematch with Anthony Joshua in 2019. The way Arreola was able to get to him – particularly early – showed he must beware getting drawn into brawls. Some enticing options for what comes next – Luis Ortiz might be the favourite though we love potential matchups with Dillian Whyte and the aforementioned Wilder.

Next Fight: tbc

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 last October. But he did not do enough to merit belonging with the absolute elite at heavy just yet. 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. Now gets the title shot his position as WBO mandatory challenger demands – against Joshua in London in September.

Next Fight: Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua (September 25)

6 Dillian Whyte (28-2)

Dillian Whyte’s world was turned upside down on August 22, 2020 when he was stopped by a brutal left uppercut from Alexander Povetkin. That destroyed Whyte’s hopes of a WBC title shot as his long wait as mandatory was destroyed at the final hurdle. All is well again with ‘The Body Snatcher’ now though after he gained revenge over Povetkin in their March 27 rematch on Gibraltar. Dillian came out with bad intentions and dominated a struggling Povetkin from the word go. He was aggressive throughout and closed the show in terrific style in the fourth with an impressive stoppage. Now likely to be out again in September, and we’d love to see fights with either Ruiz or Wilder in the future. Or a rematch with AJ.

Next Fight: tbc

7 Joseph Parker (29-2)

Parker was favoured to defeat Dereck Chisora in their recent pay-per-view matchup, but he didn’t do enough to advance his ranking in this list. The margin of victory was wafer-thin – a split decision with the deciding card reading 115-113. And Parker had to recover from a very shaky start highlighted by suffering a knockdown just seven seconds into the bout. The way Parker – with Andy Lee heading up his corner for the first time – recovered to dominate later on was commendable. But he still has us unconvinced yet that he can really threaten the top four or five men on this elite list. Only time will tell and the starting point could be an IBF eliminator against promising Croatian Filip Hrgovic.

Next Fight: tbc

8 Michael Hunter (18-1-1)

Very few top heavyweights want a piece of ‘The Bounty’ – he couldn’t even get a bite when he offered to fight Dillian Whyte for free recently. In the end Hunter had a much gentler return to action with a fourth-round knockout of Shawn Laughery in Galveston, Texas on December 18. It had been more than a year since his draw with Povetkin on the Joshua vs Ruiz Jr 2 undercard. And despite a little inevitable ring rust, he did what was ultimately expected of him by registering an easy win. Laughery was down in both the first and the fourth in a one-sided encounter. Next up was due to be an IBF eliminator against Hrgovic. But Hunter has decided instead to take on Mike Wilson in August in what is being billed as a WBA eliminator.

Next Fight: Michael Hunter vs Mike Wilson (August 3)

9 Joe Joyce (12-0)

‘The Juggernaut’ claims the final spot from Daniel Dubois after handing ‘Dynamite’ his first professional defeat in their eagerly-awaited November 28 showdown. The 35-year-old made his experience count by executing a plan to perfection against the 23-year-old Dubois (now 15-1). Joe used a stiff left lead to produce swelling around Dubois’ left eye from an early stage. By Round 10 the eye was closed and Daniel took a knee to be counted out. It was subsequently revealed he had suffered a fractured eye socket. Joyce will be a match for most elite heavyweights, he has a granite chin and a relentless style – he just keeps on coming whatever you throw at him. Now likely to be out again in July – and the list of potential opponents includes French stars Carlos Takam and Tony Yoka.

Next Fight: tbc

10 Filip Hrgovic (12-0)

Like Joyce, an exciting and unbeaten prospect, and one we can see going a long way. Hrgovic easily disposed of Rydell Booker in his most recent outing in November 2020, and has heavy hands and a mean streak all big men need. Next up is an IBF final eliminator, now potentially against Parker after Hunter pulled out. That would be a fascinating matchup, and a real test of Hrgovic’s credentials at world level.

Next fight: tbc

Honourable Mentions: Daniel Dubois was the hottest young thing in the heavyweight division before that shattering defeat at the hands of the aforementioned Joyce last November. He bounced back in style though after taking six months to recover from the horrific eye injury sustained in that Joyce loss.

A second-round knockout of Romanian Bogdan Dinu to claim the WBA interim heavyweight title was expected, but the manner of it revealed no lasting impact from that devastating first professional defeat. Now 16-1 with 15 wins inside distance, Dubois retains all the power he had showcased in reeling off 15 wins to start his pro career. Still only 23 years old, he has plenty of time to come again and plot a path to world-title glory.

Meanwhile on the same night in Germany, Agit Kabayel improved to 21-0 (13 inside distance) with a unanimous decision over the tough and durable American Kevin Johnson.

Bar a few worrying moments in the sixth when he was tagged by a couple of big left hands, Kabayel was always bossing what turned out to be an entertaining affair. Failing to get Johnson out of there early was no real surprise – ‘Kingpin’ has been in with just about all the elite heavyweights and only Joshua so far has really been able to do a job on him.

Another man trending in the right direction is Nigerian sensation Efe Ajagba. He had been underwhelming in his Top Rank debut late last year but it transpired he was dealing with an injury. A highlight-reel knockout of Brian Howard in his only fight so far in 2021 was much more like it though. He’s now 15-0 and appears to be heading for much bigger things. Watch this space.

‘Cuban Flash’ Frank Sanchez meanwhile remains unbeaten at 18-0 after a technical decision victory over Nagy Aguilera on the Canelo vs Saunders undercard in Texas in May. The eventual outcome was pretty underwhelming with Aguilera rolling around like a Hollywood actor, but that wasn’t Frank’s fault. Bigger things await for a man who is part of that all-conquering Eddy Reynoso stable.

NB: Rankings updated on June 9, 2021.

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