Heavyweight rankings: Ruiz and Parker reaction

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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 by that massive unification showdown involving British behemoths Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. The pair have now signed a two-fight deal with the first meeting expected to take place on Saturday August 14. Followed by an immediate rematch in November or December.

Our fully updated rankings give you an idea of how the division currently shapes up as we head deeper into 2021.

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 is that mouthwatering unification battle with fellow Briton Joshua.

Next Fight: Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua (August 14)

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 is that unification showdown with Fury, followed by a second meeting with ‘The Gypsy King’. Bring it on…

Next Fight: Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury (August 14)

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. Could return soon against former world champ Charles Martin but we would much rather see him in against Dillian Whyte or Andy Ruiz Jr.

Next Fight: tbc

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 likely to meet Joe Joyce for the WBO interim title – assuming Fury and Joshua meet for all the marbles. If the undisputed fight falls through for any reason, then Usyk is likely to get an immediate shot at AJ for the WBO title instead.

Next Fight: tbc

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. Eddie Hearn is now talking about a fight in the U.S. in the summer and we’d love to see a showdown with the aforementioned Wilder at some stage in the near future.

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 June in what is being billed as a WBA eliminator.

Next Fight: Michael Hunter vs Mike Wilson (June 19)

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. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist is now set to meet Usyk for the WBO interim title. If he lands another upset there, a potential world title shot awaits.

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: One man who is 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. He returned with a bang recently though with a highlight-reel knockout of Brian Howard. He’s now 15-0 and appears to be heading for much bigger things. Watch this space.

Another exciting prospect is Daniel Dubois, and he starts the long road back from that defeat by Joyce when he takes on the tough Bogdan Dinu (20-2) on June 5. It’s no easy return for ‘Dynamite’ and we should find out immediately if that defeat last November has left lasting scars.

Frenchman and 2016 Olympic champion Tony Yoka meanwhile continues to build his reputation after systematically dismantling Joel Tambwe Djeko en route to a 12th-round stoppage in early March.

NB: Rankings updated on May 12, 2021.