Tyson Fury is top of the heavyweight rankings
Tyson Fury is top of the heavyweight rankings

The Heavyweights: Ranking the best big men in boxing today

Furyjoshua.com ranks the best heavyweights in boxing and asks where we might see them next following the news that Andy Ruiz and Luis Ortiz will get it on in September.

The Heavyweights: Ranking the best big men in boxing today

Boxing’s marquee division is in rude health currently, with some serious talent atop the heavyweight pecking order. Crucially, these men are keen to meet each other - and when the best fight the best, there is still no spectacle quite like it.

Here furyjoshua.com assesses the landscape and ranks the best big men around.

Boxing’s heavyweight division is red hot again as we head deeper into 2022, on the back of another virtuoso performance from Tyson Fury.

‘The Gypsy King’ and Oleksandr Usyk currently hold all the major heavyweight titles as we head into a crucial period for the division, with plenty more cracking fights to look forward to.

Who knows, we may even get Fury vs Anthony Joshua at long last before the end of 2022...

Heavyweight rankings

Such is the influence of the sanctioning bodies in the sport, which sadly often defy logic to push their own agendas, it has never been an easy task to impartially rank the heavyweights. Our list ignores the so-called ‘alphabet’ ratings in favour of a non-partisan system which ranks fighters based purely on their skillset, ring achievements, title victories and potential.

1. Tyson Fury (32-0-1)

Fury is not only still unbeaten, but now unquestionably unrivalled at the top of our rankings after that brilliant performance to stop Dillian Whyte in six one-sided rounds at Wembley Stadium on April 23. Fury - almost a stone lighter than he had been for the trilogy vs Deontay Wilder - boxed beautifully to befuddle Whyte. He then closed the show late in Round 6 with a picture-perfect uppercut which landed ‘The Body Snatcher’ on his back. Fury talked of retirement in the immediate aftermath of the fight, but we’ve seen all that before. At the age of only 33, and at the peak of his powers, why would he quit now? Especially with the prospect of a huge unification match against the winner of Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 looming ever larger.

Next fight: TBC

2. Oleksandr Usyk (19-0)

Usyk, the boxing grand master from the Ukraine, achieved the dream of becoming a world champion at both cruiserweight and heavyweight when he dethroned Joshua in London. He produced a terrific performance to outbox and outfight the defending champion. Not only did Usyk showcase that elite ringcraft and footwork we have seen so often, he was also willing to stand in the pocket and trade when the moment demanded it. An all-round performance for the ages which resulted in a deserved victory. A perfect professional record, world titles in two classes, an Olympic gold medal and an amateur ledger of 335-15 - Oleksandr has quite the C.V. now. The frightening thing is both he and his camp said we didn’t see the best Usyk that night in north London, they believe there is yet more to come. Next up is the rematch vs Joshua, which will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday August 20.

Next fight: Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 (August 20, 2022)

3. Anthony Joshua (24-2)

Joshua has scaled the heavyweight mountain twice - and now he must try to do it for a third time. This time however it’s different, as when AJ lost to Andy Ruiz Jr in 2019 there was a feeling of disbelief and that it was a one-off blip. This time Joshua was totally outboxed and outfought by Ukrainian maestro Oleksandr Usyk. The Ukrainian was too fast, too skilful and too strong for AJ as he punched his way to a comfortable unanimous decision (not sure where that 115-113 scorecard came from). Joshua enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top in the pro ranks after winning Olympic gold in London 2012, and he has the time to come again. But a drastically different gameplan and mindset is needed if he is to gain revenge against Usyk. He appeared ponderous and unable to pull the trigger in their first meeting, this wasn’t a close fight. In circumstances like this, the rematch only normally serves to reinforce what happened in the first fight. Can AJ turn the tide? It is undoubtedly the greatest challenge of his career so far, and one he must take on if he is to keep alive the dream of facing Fury in the future for all the marbles.

Next fight: Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk 2 (August 20, 2022)

4. Deontay Wilder (42-2-1)

Wilder may have lost to Fury in their long-awaited trilogy match, but he left the ring not only on his shield but also with his reputation enhanced. ‘The Bronze Bomber’ came close to claiming the redemption he so craved when he had Tyson on the floor twice in the fourth. But just as in Los Angeles back in 2018, he could not do the necessary and nail the incredible Fury to the canvas. Deontay - who weighed in a career-heaviest 238lbs - appeared spent physically by the halfway stage and showed terrific heart and cojones to hang in there until Fury applied the coup de grace in the penultimate session. Reports afterwards suggested Wilder had broken his hand during the defeat, and now he must take a break to decide his future plans. He is still a huge danger to any heavyweight out there courtesy of that massive right hand, and recent reports suggest he will continue to fight.

Next fight: TBC

5. Andy Ruiz Jr (34-2)

Ruiz returned from a 17-month absence to convincingly outpoint Chris Arreola in an entertaining scrap in California in May 2021. Before that, Andy had not been out since losing his world heavyweight titles in that rematch to Anthony Joshua in 2019. Gone was the flabby 283-pounder who was literally unable to throw his punches properly against Joshua the second time round. In his place a much more toned 256-pound frame and a new-found discipline. It wasn’t an easy night for Ruiz though - he was down in Round 2 and in trouble in the third before recovering to punch out a unanimous decision. The good engine and fast hands are still there, but questions still remain. We should get a better idea of the ceiling for the new Andy under Eddy Reynoso in his next bout, which will be against Luis Ortiz in Los Angeles on September 4. An absolute beauty.

Next fight: Ruiz vs Luis Ortiz (September 4, 2022)

6. Joe Joyce (13-0)

The 35-year-old Londoner cracked our top 10 by delivering a first professional defeat to the exciting prodigy Daniel Dubois in November 2020. He then cemented that position by stopping veteran French warhorse Carlos Takam in July 2021. The former Olympic silver medalist has a relentless style and a granite chin - he will be a nightmare for a lot of elite heavyweights. He seemingly copes with whatever opponents throw at him, and keeps on coming. Do not underestimate his ring savvy either - the win over Dubois showcased his ability to carry out a plan to perfection. Has not been seen out since dismantling Carlos Takam last summer and latterly recovering from a broken wrist, but now ready to return on Queensberry’s July 2 Wembley Arena show vs the durable German Christian Hammer.

Next fight: Joyce vs Christian Hammer (July 2)

7. Joseph Parker (30-2)

The former WBO king is again pushing for a world-title shot, and he stayed on course with a convincing points victory over Dereck Chisora in their Manchester rematch in December 2021. The first fight had been a real struggle but this time Parker was more dominant and he remains a tough assignment for anybody in the division. We await his next challenge with interest and a matchup with Joyce would be a cracker.

Next fight: TBC

8. Frank Sanchez (20-0)

Sanchez advertised his future world-title credentials with a technically excellent unanimous decision over fellow unbeaten prospect Efe Ajagba on the Fury vs Wilder 3 undercard in Las Vegas. ‘The Cuban Flash’ was too slick and smart for Nigerian star Ajagba, who appeared unable to pull the trigger - such was the puzzle in front of him. Sanchez has fast hands, good movement and terrific footwork and wins his place in our top 10 on merit. The win over Ajagba may not have pleased all of the fans inside T-Mobile Arena, but his pedigree is there for all to see. Another fighter to hail from the all-conquering Eddy Reynoso stable, and one who is expected to step up again towards elite level soon. Stayed busy with a win over late replacement Christian Hammer on New Year’s Day and much bigger tests now await.

Next fight: TBC

9. Michael Hunter (21-1-2)

‘The Bounty’ was one of the most avoided heavyweights out there heading into his December showdown with Jerry Forrest in New York late in 2021. It was not a good night for Hunter though as he emerged with a draw to frustrate his hopes of making a real statement. You get the impression that the better the opposition, the better the Hunter we will see. He may have to wait a little while yet before he gets to go in with the very best. Had been due to face Hughie Fury in a WBA title eliminator on July 2, but that will now have to wait with Hughie recovering from an illness.

Next fight: TBC

10. Dillian Whyte (28-3)

Whyte had waited so, so long for that elusive world heavyweight title shot, but when the opportunity finally came it was a massive letdown. ‘The Body Snatcher’ appeared slow and ponderous when asked to solve the freakish athletic puzzle presented by Tyson Fury at Wembley Stadium. He looked gassed after three rounds and more like a club fighter at times while ‘The Gypsy King’ boxed beautifully to leave him floundering. It was a head scratcher of a performance from Whyte - he looked bereft of a plan and unable to pull the trigger. Or even get close enough to try and pull it. It’s difficult to see a way back to the summit for Dillian right now, but heavyweight boxing works in mysterious ways.

Next fight: TBC

Pushing for inclusion

Croatian star Filip Hrgovic (14-0) is another unbeaten prospect who is part of an exciting young generation of heavyweights.

Hrgovic’s style, like that of Joyce, may not be one for the purist, but his combination of ability and brute force makes him difficult to beat and he is a fighter on the way up.

Daniel Dubois (18-1) had been tipped for the very top before that shocking first pro defeat at the hands of Joyce in November 2020. Since then he has reeled off three quickfire wins, culminating in a dominant defeat of Trevor Bryan to land the WBA (regular) title.

Top Rank prospect Jared ‘Big Baby’ Anderson is some way from being considered for our top 10, but the exciting youngster is absolutely heading in the right direction. He was another heavyweight to appear on that stacked Fury vs Wilder undercard, and he was impressive in disposing of Vladimir Tereshkin inside two rounds. He followed up with another quickfire win before the end of 2021.

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