Heavyweight state of play – Part One

As the boxing world awaits this autumn’s planned showdowns involving Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, Luke G. Williams assesses the current state of play among the Boxing Social heavyweight Top Ten. Today he counts down from Joseph Parker at ten to Dillian Whyte at six…

10. Joseph Parker (29-2)
Once upon a time, Parker looked to be perhaps the most promising young heavyweight on the block. Now he’s 29 and, if anything, appears to be regressing. In his last two fights, he has struggled past Junior Fa and Dereck Chisora with performances that have looked lethargic at best, soporific at worst. The Kiwi may have won his last five, but he hasn’t looked truly impressive in years and underwhelmed when he landed his big chance against Anthony Joshua in 2018. Now trained by Andy Lee, Parker needs a statement performance against a leading heavyweight to get back in the mix.

Dream fight: A rematch with Anthony Joshua. Pretty unlikely prospect though.

Interesting match-up: Victory in a rematch with Andy Ruiz, who Parker beat via majority decision for the WBO title in 2016, would be a great way for the Kiwi to state his claims for another title shot.

Nightmare match-up: Michael Hunter would give Parker fits in a fight that would surely send an arena to sleep.

Most likely next fight: A rematch with Dereck Chisora.

9. Michael Hunter (19-1-1)
When Hunter stopped hitherto unbeaten Martin Bakole in an entertaining scrap at York Hall in 2018 his career looked set for lift-off. However, he has disappointed since. A run of underwhelming opponents and performances was capped by a split decision draw with Alexander Povetkin. Hunter has since signed with Triller and beaten Shawn Laughery and Mike Wilson, while swerving an IBF final eliminator against Filip Hrgovic – fights and a career move that have done his reputation few favours.

Dream fight: An all-American match-up against Wilder would be great fun and give Hunter perhaps his best chance of a statement victory.

Interesting match-up: A rematch with Usyk – who outboxed him at cruiserweight in 2017 would be intriguing. Of the two men, Hunter looks the more natural heavyweight.

Nightmare match-up: Fury would most likely outbox Hunter in a snore fest.

Most likely next fight: it’s highly unlikely any of the world’s top heavies are joining Hunter at Triller so most likely someone nowhere near the world Top Ten.

8. Joe Joyce (13-0)
The Juggernaut has fast become a fan favourite and a viable dark horse within the division. He gave Daniel Dubois a painful lesson and also broke down Carlos Takam in impressive fashion. He’s 36 in September though so needs to get a move on.

Dream fight: A clash of British Olympic medal winners against Anthony Joshua. With his impressive engine and relentless nature Joyce would have a shot of springing an upset in what would surely be a thriller.

Interesting match-up: A rematch with Dubois at some point is a natural and would doubtless deliver drama and healthy spectator and TV viewer interest.

Nightmare match-up: Usyk. He schooled Joyce in the amateurs and would likely do so again in the pros.

Most likely next fight: Joyce is making noises about waiting for his mandatory shot against the AJ-Usyk winner next up. Personally, I’d much rather see him stay active against a fringe Top Ten contender – someone like Otto Wallin would fit the bill.

7. Luis Ortiz (32-2)
Now that he’s turned 65 (NB. This is a joke – Ortiz’s official age is 42), King Kong’s best days are clearly behind him. He missed his chance (twice) to get a breakthrough victory against Deontay Wilder and it’s hard to see how he can land another title shot unless he can manoeuvre himself into a mandatory position. The Cuban is currently ranked fourth with the WBC, which would appear to be his best hope.

Dream fight: Any world title fight.

Nightmare match-up: Fury would surely box embarrassing rings around Ortiz.

Most likely next fight: Some bum or other foe with a padded record.

6. Dillian Whyte (28-2)
Whyte seems to attract opprobrium and admiration in fairly equal measure. What cannot be denied is that he has been the most active of the current heavyweight Top Ten by a fair distance. Whether you like Whyte or not, and with the asterisk that he turned down a title fight with AJ and rejected an eliminator against Kubrat Pulev, it is hard to deny that he deserves a title shot, holding as he does solid wins against fellow contenders such as Joseph Parker and current or former fringe contenders such as Alexander Povetkin, Chisora and Oscar Rivas.

Dream fight: The rematch versus AJ. Nearly six years on from their first meeting, which was fought with the British and Commonwealth titles at stake, this would be a massive stadium style pay-per-view spectacular. Verbal and pugilistic fireworks would be guaranteed. And you feel Whyte would have a better shot at winning this fight then the WBC title/Tyson Fury showdown that he craves.

Interesting match-up: Parker was unfortunate to not get a draw when he met Whyte in 2018. A rematch is long overdue and would tell us a lot about where both men now stand.

Nightmare match-up: Whyte should steer clear of Wilder – the American’s murderous power coupled with the relative ease with which Whyte can be tagged would – in this writer’s opinion – spell doom for the Brixton man.

Most likely next fight: Whyte likes to keep busy so expect him to face a solid contender from outside the Top Ten before the year is out as he waits for that WBC tilt.

Main image: Joe Joyce/Queensberry Promotions.