BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO (OBVIOUSLY)
I am a list maker. This is a little-known facet of my life that I hold dear. I’m also obsessed with the heavyweight division, as torturous as that may sound. My ratings do not follow the average fair, and alphabet titles are irrelevant to a certain degree. I base these ratings on talent, accomplishments, and/or setbacks and losses. Dormancy is also relevant, because, if a fighter does not fight, his relevance becomes diminished and he will fall in the rankings. Potential goes a long way with me, but does not always ensure an accurate spot.
Another notable thing is that there are boatloads of heavyweights sporting glossy records out there. And some of them are actually entertaining to watch. In my opinion, to inject some excitement into the division, all that needs to be done, is to make the fights happen. Even, and especially at the lower tiers. Young, undefeated fighters need to be pitted against other undefeated fighters to evaluate their careers and where they stand in the world’s eye and opinion. In other words, they need to fight it out to be ranked ANYWHERE.
Of course it doesn’t usually happen like this in the politically driven, downright crooked world of boxing. But when I delve into my list-making ways, I can only dream… Dream that what we’re experiencing isn’t real. I’d like to wake up from the nightmare that is now professional boxing. Boxers, managers, promoters and their alphabet counterparts complicate things so much so between themselves, it’s killing the sport in snakechoke fashion. If a person’s choice in life is to become a professional boxer, what’s the point in not taking chances? I understand practicing smart business, but isn’t the main part of boxing business going into battle to prove ones self? Either way, here’s an abbreviated version of my ratings. I’ve been doing them since 2006 as a “hobby”. Enjoy, debate, and leave a comment if you want. But more than anything, see for yourselves that there are meaningful fights to be made out there.
1. Vitali Klitschko 43-2, 40 KO’s
(WBC x 2) Next fight vs. Dereck Chisora
Call me a madman, but at this point in the storied Klitschko reign of terror, or boredom, depending on the way you see it, big brother Vitali is the better, and more accomplished of the two. Wlad may have landed the more prestigious fight with David Haye, but it was a bore. Wlad may be more technically skilled, but Vitali is the fighter that actually comes to fight. Some give big talking Brit (another one?) Dereck Chisora a chance to give Vitali a good fight, but that’s easier guessed over than done. At this point in Vitali’s career, it would be impossible to pick against him vs. any opponent out there. He is 40, but he shows no signs of slowing down. No doubt, right now, Vitali is the most feared, and potent heavyweight in the game.
2. Wladimir Klitschko 56-3, 49 KO’s
(WBO x 2/IBF/IBO/WBA SUPER CHAMPION/WORLD) Next fight: vs. Jean Marc Mormeck
Yep. THE Heavyweight Champ is ranked 2nd here. That’s because of his safety 1st style, his somewhat poor showing against arch-nemesis David Haye in his last outing, and his apparent inability or reluctance to drop the bomb on opponents when they are ready to be taken out. His scheduled fight vs. former Cruiserweight Champ Jean Marc Mormeck doesn’t help either. There is absolutely no interest in this fight. Even if Wlad KO’s Mormeck in style, it still wouldn’t help his ranking. What else would be expected considering the size difference and skill levels? But lord forbid, if Wlad struggles to put Mormeck away and coasts to another boring points victory, his spot at #2 will be cemented, probably until both brothers are retired from the sport. Don’t get me wrong, Wladimir still defeats every boxer listed beneath him, or already has. He’s built like a statue and boxes as sharply as any PFP fighter out there. He has devastating punching power and his fundamentals are elite. But there is something inside of his psyche that holds back greatness.
3. Alexander Povetkin 23-0, 16 KO’s
(WBA “Regular Champ”) Next fight vs. Marco Huck
Povetkin gets the #3 spot almost by default, mainly because of Robert Helenius’ last sub-par outing against Dereck Chisora. Since beating former WBA mainstay Ruslan Chagaev for the “WBA Regular title”, Alexander pounded out a workman like stoppage victory over perennial underachiever Cedric Boswell. It’s his successful recent run of victories, and the fact he beat Eddie Chambers in 2008 that nudges him into the #3 spot, at least while Robert Helenius run looks shaky. If Helenius does well in his next fight, he could take this spot back. Povetkin’s next opponent, former WBO cruiserweight king Marco Huck might have some say so in all this too as they are scheduled to meet each other on Feb. 25th.
4. Robert Helenius 17-0, 11 KO’s
For months, Helenius spot rested directly under the Klitschko brothers. But his extremely questionable “victory” over the tough Dereck Chisora has somewhat tainted his excellent run, and he’s dropped a spot. Anytime a heavily-favored boxer (Helenius) wins a questionable decision, and the loser (Chisora) gets a shot at Vitali Klitschko, it’s obvious to the world and Vitali who’s really perceived to have won. Truth be told, in the Chisora fight Helenius looked pretty bad; skinny in the wrong places and soft at the same time. Un-energized and soft-punching. Had he been facing either Klitschko brother he may have had his ass been beaten badly. But one bad performance cannot diminish this man’s upside. Helenius has the size and attitude to be considered the best heavyweight outside of the K-Brothers. It’s conditioning and (hopefully) skill he needs to hone. Another thing Helenius needs is another victory over a worthy opponent to claim his ranking back, and bigger fights will/should follow. Every boxer has had what’s been observed to be a hiccup in his career(s), but Robert seems like the type to learn from adversity and trudge forward.
5. Tomasz Adamek 44-2, 28 KO’s
Adamek is coming off a one-sided loss to #1 rated V. Klitschko. But that defeat cannot diminish the fact that he’s still one of the division’s toughest and best boxers. If anyone rated lower wants to take his spot on this list, they’re gonna have to beat him. Or, there is the possibility Adamek could drop if he remains dormant. But all indications are that Tomasz wants to fight on. Lets hope he fights an up-and-comer or two. If Adamek can string a couple (or even one) victory over one of these guys rated above him, or, defeat one of the rising young guns, a fight vs. Povetkin would be a great opportunity at some form of redemption and success in the division. And it might be a good scrap too, if it were to ever materialize.
6. Eddie Chambers 36-2, 18 KO’s
Chambers outpointed Derrick Rossy in his only comeback fight since being stopped in the final round by Wlad Klitschko, and both were expected results to most degrees. He was scheduled to fight former WBO champ Sergie Lyachovich but had to pull out due to a rib injury. That’s bad news for Chambers here. Eddie is a smallish heavyweight and doesn’t punch all that hard, but his boxing skills are more than decent if not underrated completely. His victory over much-bigger Alexander Dimitrenko is proof of that. He needs to recover quickly and fight someone of some substance soon, or inactivity may hurt his future ranking.
7. Tony Thompson 36-2, 24 KO’s
Thompson is on a 5-fight, 5-stoppage winning streak since losing to Wlad Klitschko. Among these victories, the “names” he’s beaten include Chazz Witherspoon (TKO 9), Owen Beck (TKO 4), and the always unpredictable-but-usually-tough Mo Harris (TKO 3) in his only appearance last year. Regardless of Harris’ record at the time, he came to fight and the result was an impressive display for Thompson. Tony is apparently the #1 contender for Wlad Klitschko’s WBO title, and word has it, the champ is actually going to honor the rematch (!) in maybe one of THE most un-looked-forward-to rematches of all time, providing the champ gets past near-hopeless Jean Marc Mormeck first. If Thompson can beat Wlad, this ranking will become moot. But if he loses a second time, it’ll seemingly be only a matter of time before his name falls in these rankings. I will state that if Thompson (providing he loses to Wlad in said rematch) takes on the role of gatekeeper for all up-and-coming heavies, expect him to be avoided like the plague. His size, skill and southpaw stance are enough to scare away several would-be opponents. A guy like Thompson is every ‘Robert Helenius/Tyson Fury/Seth Mitchell’s’ worst nightmare.
8. Alexander Dimitrenko 31-1, 21 KO’s
Dimitrenko is on a 3-fight winning streak since being thoroughly dominated over 12-rounds by Eddie Chambers. His biggest comeback victory came against the usually tough Albert Sosnowski (TKO 12). Dimitrenko is a big guy at 6-7”, but has never used his size advantages to any great effect. He is also having internal business/promotion aggravations, so any slowing down of his career at this point would be devastating to his ranking. Alexander could be viable player in 2012, but history shows otherwise. A fight vs. a young gun like Tyson Fury would be an excellent barometer for both guys. Another fight vs. the likes of shot Michael Sprott (Alexander’s last victory) will definitely hurt his chances of keeping this ranking.
9. Chris Arreola 34-2, 29 KO’s
Arreola is scheduled to fight TBA on Feb. 18th, which is fitting considering the soft opposition he’s been feasting on. He is riding a 6-fight winning streak since dropping a decision to Tomasz Adamek and seems to be re-dedicated to conditioning, despite his weight still fluctuating somewhat between fights. Arreola is at a wrinkle in his career. Sure, he’s got some skill and is tough as they come (hence his ranking), but a quality fight is needed, and very soon, to remain in the top-10. A dream fight vs. Povetkin could put him back on the world map, but it also wouldn’t hurt to gain a victory over one of the guys rated higher than himself, like Eddie Chambers. And bring on any up-and-comer. If anything, Cristobal could prove to be a stern gatekeeper.
10. Tyson Fury 17-0, 11 KO’s
Fury’s name might look a little high on this list, but in my mind, this is where potential screams. The big guy has too much upside to ignore. He has massive size, babyfat to burn and youth on his side bigtime. He can box some and shows improvement nearly every time out, and he has shown a very good chin, especially in his last fight vs. Neven Pajkic. Not many heavyweights can take a flush shot the way Fury does and come back roaring. Fury likes to fight. Fury is a showman and audio lambaster of opponents. Say what you will about the shape Dereck Chisora came in when they fought last year, aside from a few brief moments, Fury dominated that fight, and had fun doing it. And Chisora just gave “the next big thing” in Helenius all (and more) he could handle. Fury swears he has beaten Helenius in sparring. I’d love to see the real thing, and soon.
11. Derek Chisora 14-2, 9 KO’s (vs. Vitali Klitschko)
12. Kevin Johnson 25-1-1, 11 KO’s
13. Kubrat Pulev 15-0, 7 KO’s
14. Alexander Ustinov 25-0, 19 KO’s
15. Mariusz Wach 26-0, 14 KO’s
16. Dennis Boystov 29-0, 24 KO’s
17. Taras Bidenko 28-4, 12 KO’s
18. Jean Marc Mormeck 36-4, 22 KO’s (vs. Wladimir Klitschko)
19. Ruslan Chagaev 27-2, 17 KO’s (vs. Kertson Manswell)
20. Sam Peter 34-5, 27 KO’s
21. Odlanier Fonte Solis 17-1, 13 KO’s
22. Albert Sosnowski 46-4-1, 28 KO’s
23. Monte Barrett 35-9-2, 20 KO’s
24. David Tua 52-4-2, 43 KO’s
25. Kali Meehan 38-4, 31 KO’s
26. Bermane Stiverne 21-1-1, 20 KO’s
27. Seth Mitchell 24-0-1, 18 KO’s
28. David Rodriguez 36-0, 34 KO’s
29. Maurice Harris 25-15-2, 11 KO’s
30. Oleg Platov 29-1, 23 KO’s
31. Shane Cameron 25-2-1, 21 KO’s
32. Jonathan Banks 27-1-1, 18 KO’s
33. Michael Grant 48-4, 36 KO’s
34. Edmund Gerber 18-0, 12 KO’s
35. Chazz Witherspoon 28-2, 20 KO’s
36. Vyacheslav Glazkov 10-0, 7 KO’s
37. Francesco Pianetta 25-0-1, 14 KO’s
38. Onddrej Pala 30-2, 21 KO’s
39. Sergei Lyakhovich 25-4, 16
40. Alex Leapai 25-3-3, 20 KO’s
41. Carlos Takam 24-1, 19 KO’s
42. Manuel Charr 20-0, 11 KO’s
43. Jarno Rosberg 12-0, 4 KO’s
43. Neven Pajkic 16-1, 5 KO’s
44. Cedric Boswell 35-2, 26 KO’s
45. Timor Ibragimov 30-4-1, 16 KO’s
46. Franklin Lawrence 17-2-2, 12 KO’s
47. Travis Walker 38-7-1, 30 KO’s
48. Facundo Nahuel Simal 11-0, 3 KO’s
49. Gonzalo Omar Basile 53-6, 24 KO’s
50. Juan Carlos Gomez 49-3, 37 KO’s
OTHER NOTABLE NAMES THAT COULD CRACK THE TOP 50 IN TIME:
Marco Huck 34-1, 25 KO’s (vs. Alexander Povetkin)
(No way I can rate Huck as a legit heavyweight yet, but I give him a good chance to prove me wrong).
Artur Szpilka 9-0, 7 KO’s
(This guy is a movie-in-the-making. He’s undersized, but if this former convict can keep winning, a cult following could spark into an actual, sizeable fanbase).
David Price 11-0, 9 KO’s (vs. John McDermott)
(This is an excellent test for the highly-touted Price. McDermott gave Tyson Fury fits, twice. Price could make a huge domestic statement here with a victory.)
Mike Perez 18-0, 12 KO’s
Luis Ortiz 13-0, 11 KO’s
Oscar Rivas 8-0, 5 KO’s
Deontay Wilder 20-0, 20 KO’s
Andrzej Wawizyk 23-0, 12 KO’s
Michael Wallisch 8-0, 5 KO’s
Joe Hanks 18-0, 12 KO’s
A clash between any of these undefeated cats would be interesting. Former Olympian Wilder is thought of as one of the US’s rare hopes, but needs to step-up the competition bigtime. A fight between he and David Price would be pitting two very tall young novices in deep right away, and it’d be entertaining and revealing for as long as it lasted. And I’d spend the night in jail to see Artur Szpilka match bombs with either Mike Perez or Luis Ortiz.
OTHER NOTABLE GLOSSY RECORDS-
Magomed Abdusalamov (12-0, 12 KO’s), Yakup Saglam (28-1, 25 KO’s), Bowie Tupou (22-1, 16 KO’s), Bryant Jennings (11-0, 5 KO’s), Alexey Soloviev (18-0, 12 KO’s), Vladimir Tereshkin (13-0-1, 7 KO’s), Andrey Rudenko (20-0, 12 KO’s), Kelvin Price 12-0, 6 KO’s, Volodia Lazebnik (13-0, 8 KO’s), Ran Nakash (21-0, 15 KO’s), Chris Burton (11-0, 6 KO’s), Fabio Maldonado (21-0, 20 KO’s), Goran Delic (17-0, 3 KO’s), Erkan Teper (6-0, 4 KO’s), Jens Krull (13-1, 7 KO’s), Tor Hamer (13-1, 9 KO’s), Leif Larson (15-0, 12 KO’s), David Latoria (9-0, 5 KO’s), Arnold Gjergiai (15-0, 9 KO’s), Andy Ruiz Jr. (13-0, 8 KO’s), George “Monk” Foreman III (12-0, 11 KO’s), Julio Cesar Dos Santos (17-0, 16 KO’s), Mark de Mori (17-1-2, 15 KO’s), Kassim Howard (9-1, 5 KO’s), Victor Bisbal (19-1, 13 KO’s), Solomon Haumono (18-1, 16 KO’s), Eugene Hill (25-1, 17 KO’s), Steve Collins (25-1-1, 18 KO’s), Hassan Chitsaz (20-1, 20 KO’s), Paul Mbongo (13-1-1, 4 KO’s), Skyler Anderson (16-1-1, 10 KO’s), Coleman Barrett (13-1, 2 KO’s), Gurcharan Singh (20-1, 11 KO’s), and Richard Towers (12-0, 9 KO’s).
Now, if you’re like me, you’ll see a lot of potential here, but of course, quality has to outweigh quantity in time. Sadly, we have all seen guys with impressive, undefeated records flop faster than Terrorizer’s “Horrified” Lp (and that’s fast (!), right Courage Tshabalala?). But if a guy with a puffed-up record can’t really fight, lets find out. I know fighters want to be “sensible” when it comes to money, and I understand that. But fuck it. Make the money by kicking ass in the ring if you wanna be a pro fighter.
In a perfect world, I’d love to see a global heavyweight tournament. Shit, make me the matchmaker. I could almost guarantee more than two-fistfuls of exciting fights. Make it a true tournament style (skip the Olympic nod) where a fighter HAS to take his next fight, no matter the opponent, or he forfeits his place. 12-rounds of boxing for a spot in history.
Y’know how many dropouts and/or substitutions there’d be? DOZENS of DOZENS. Thank goodness there’s a list of undefeated (or 1-loss) heavyweights out there ready to replace the dropouts… separate the weak from the strong!
In a time where the heavyweight division is extremely frowned upon, I beg to differ… as a list maker, as a fan of “The Sweet Science”, and as an optimist of the highest order when it comes to these damn heavyweights, I say match some of these glossy-record-sporting big guys to weed out the process of who will advance when put in tough. Let ‘em fight!
Have a good one all…
Philip H. Anselmo is a musician, vocalist, songwriter for such groups as Pantera, Down, Super Joint Ritual and Arson Anthem. You can keep up with Phil’s latest music production and going-ons at www.thehousecorerecords.com