By: Hans Themistode
Dominic Breazeale was viewed as a step-up fight. The kind that wouldn’t be an easy night at the office for Otto Wallin, but one that he should ultimately walk away from with his hand raised in victory if he wanted to place himself in title contention.
After 12 rounds with the former multiple-time title challenger, Wallin cruised past Breazeale and proved that another title shot could be just around the corner. Still, the Swedish product has more work to do if he wants to place himself in the front of the line when the dust at the top of the division clears between unified champion Anthony Joshua and WBC/Ring magazine belt holder, Tyson Fury, a man Wallin nearly defeated almost two years ago.
In order to get his next crack at a world title, Wallin will need to step up his competition. Luckily for him, the heavyweight division is filled with plenty of names that, if he beats, can place him on the map. Let’s take a look at the best matches to make for him next.
Charles Martin’s title win in January of 2016 was a bit fluky. His contest against Vyacheslav Glazkov ended early in his favor due to Glazkov suffering an injury to his right knee. The injury was so bad in fact, that Glazkov has never fought again.
Still, despite the fortunate win, Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) loss the title in his first defense against Anthony Joshua in the second round. Outside of an additional loss to Adam Kownacki in 2018, Martin has reeled off three straight stoppage wins. His title reign may have been a short one, but defeating a former world champion is exactly the sort of win that Wallin needs plastered on his own resume.
There’s a lot to like about Michael Hunter. Since making the move to the heavyweight division he’s won seven contests with a draw against top contender Alexander Povetkin sandwiched in between. He was last seen in the ring closing out his 2020 with a fourth-round knockout win over Shawn Laughery.
Hunter (19-1-1, 13 KOs) didn’t appear to be in the best of shape but he picked up the win and continues to rise. For Wallin, beating an older Dominic Breazeale is a solid win, however, taking down a younger, fresher fighter in Hunter would begin to turn a few heads.
Just when you think Dereck Chisora has nothing left in the tank, he turns back the clock a few years and makes everyone look a bit foolish. Going into his heavyweight showdown against Oleksandr Usyk in October of 2020, Chisora (32-10, 23 KOs) wasn’t given much of a shot. The expectations were for the British contender to get outboxed for 12 rounds and look lethargic while trying to catch up to his man. While he didn’t pick up the win, Chisora put up one helluva fight.
Chisora’s career has always been a rollercoaster ride. He lost three straight fights to Robert Helenius, Vitali Klitschko and David Haye in 2011/2012, then reeled off five straight. He was knocked out cold against Dillian Whyte in 2018, then bounced back and started leaving his opponents comatose for three straight contests.
Chisora would present Wallin with the ultimate risk but a decent reward as a win over him would make everyone take notice.
While a win over the other names on this list would make a few fans latch on to Wallin’s bandwagon, a victory over Luis Ortiz would make just about everyone jump on board.
Regardless of the dust on his birth certificate, the 41-year-old is still regarded as one of the best heavyweights in the world. Like most, the chin of Ortiz simply couldn’t hold up against the power of Deontay Wilder. Still, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) carries around the sort of clout that Wallin needs.
Even at his current age, Ortiz is seldom, if ever called out. For Wallin, if he were able to not only call out the former title challenger but actually defeat him, he wouldn’t have to beg for a title shot. One would be presented to him immediately.
Kubrat Pulev is good, very good even but he doesn’t appear to be great. Under normal circumstances, Wallin would have little to gain in defeating him. With that being said, Pulev has the power of perception standing in his corner.
Just a few months ago, Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs) was standing across the ring from unified champion Anthony Joshua. Although it wasn’t exactly a close contest and despite Pulev getting knocked out in the ninth round, most of the boxing world remembers that he was at the very least, fighting for a world championship to begin with. Those opportunities aren’t given to just anyone.
A dominant win over him would make boxing fans compare performances. Considering the roll he’s on, if Wallin can somehow end things earlier than Joshua did, many will begin to consider Wallin as a worthy title contender.
Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev
During the first two rounds of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defense against Kubrat Pulev (28-2, 14 KOs), both fighters were reluctant to let their hands go. In the third however, the script was completely flipped.
A left hand courtesy of Joshua left his man on wobbly legs. Pulev attempted to clinch and hold while Joshua chased him half way across the ring. In an attempt to prove that the shot didn’t hurt him, Pulev began sticking out of his tongue and screaming at the crowd. That moment of bravado didn’t last long as Joshua sent him down to the canvas.
Just a few seconds later Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) continued his all out attack. In yet another weird turn of events, Pulev turned around completely and began heading to the corner. Before Joshua could rush in to attack, the referee stepped in and began counting, giving Joshua two knockdowns in the round.
From there, the action took some what of a lull period as Joshua looked to simply box on the outside. With Pulev’s energy fading, the British product rocked him Pulev again in the ninth. Some how, some way – the 39 year old picked himself up off deck, but there was nothing left in the tank. While bouncing back and forth on his toes, Joshua detonated a right hand on Pulev’s chin and just as he began falling to the ground, the reigning unified champion began walking off as he knew their contest was over.
Lawrence Okolie vs Nikodem Jezewski
The ring walk for Cruiserweight contender Lawrence Okolie (15-0, 12 KOs) was much longer then his contest against Nikodem Jezewski (19-1-1, 9 KOs).
With two quick knockdowns in the first round, Okolie pulled the curtain’s down on their contest in the second round as a right hand sent Okolie’s man down to the canvas for good
Hughie Fury vs Mariusz Wach
Like most Hughie Fury (25-3, 14 KOs) contests, the heavyweight found himself a bloody mess. Despite that, he still managed to outpoint and outgun gate keeper Mariusz Wach (36-7, 19 KOs).
With two early rounds already in the bag, a nasty cut due to a clash of heads in the third, complicated things for the cousin of current WBC heavyweight belt holder Tyson Fury. The blood may have made it more difficult to see, but Fury still controlled and dominated the action before winning virtually every round on the judges scorecard.
Martin Bakole vs Sergey Kuzmin
Make it five in a row for heavyweight contender Martin Bakole (16-1, 12 KOs). The once beaten British residence had a relatively rough time against Sergey Kuzmin (15-2, 12 KOs).
During the early going’s it was all Bakole as Kuzmin seemed content with sitting back and taking punches to the face. After sitting back for several rounds, Kuzmin seemingly woke up and took control of the middle rounds. His success however, was few and far between as Bakole did just enough to win the final few rounds.
At the end of the ten rounds, the judges turned in their scorecards which were as followed: 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94 all in favor of Bakole.
Macaulay McGowan vs Kieron Conway
From the moment the opening bell rang, fringe Jr. middleweight contender Macaulay McGowan (14-2-1, 3 KOs) had absolutely nothing for Kieron Conway (16-1-1, 3 KOs).
The British native came straight forward and landed shot after shot on his man. After a one-sided beating, Kieron dropped his man in the eighth. From there, the 24-year-old went into cruise control as he won an easy decision on the judges scorecards.
By: Hans Themistode
No matter how intimidating Anthony Joshua seemed on the outside, it didn’t take much to get under his skin. The surly knockout artist from Britain always found himself the topic of conversation, and more times than not, what was said about him wasn’t very flattering.
For the most part, Joshua has faced just about everyone at the top of the heavyweight division. Yet, it didn’t matter if he cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Joseph Parker or whether he nearly decapitated Dillian Whyte, the naysayers were always present.
By and large, Joshua managed to let the disparaging words roll off his broad back. But there were plenty of times where he engaged in the back and forth rhetoric. Now though, the current unified heavyweight titlist could care less what his peers have to say about him.
“None of these guys live in my head anymore,” said Joshua during an interview with Chris Mannix. “With all of that stuff Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder last year, it was like they both came together to say I’m the weak link in the division. Back then I was always trying to back myself but now it doesn’t matter.”
Talks of facing either Wilder or Fury still engulfs many of his conversations but at the moment, Joshua is just a few hours away from taking on IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Although Pulev isn’t considered much of a threat to truncate the British native’s reign, considering Joshua’s last opponent who was thought of in the same vein, he isn’t taking his man lightly.
In June of 2019, Joshua would walk into his contest against heavy underdog Andy Ruiz Jr. as a 25-1 favorite. Unless you are completely oblivious to the sport of boxing, the outcome of their contest was well-chronicled as Joshua was dropped four times and later stopped in the seventh.
Since then, the 31-year-old managed to win back his titles six months later in Saudi Arabia with a one-sided victory over Ruiz Jr. Thoughts of overlooking Pulev, who is on an eight-fight win streak himself, just isn’t on the mind of Joshua. So while Pulev has his undivided attention, Joshua is well aware that his immediate future will involve a showdown with either Fury or Wilder.
Coming to terms with either man has proven to be more difficult than he originally thought. With that being said, he won’t chase them. When the dust settles on his showdown with Pulev, Joshua has offered both Fury and Wilder to reach out to him, something he believes is easy to do.
“When Fury is ready he knows where to find me. When Wilder is ready he knows where to find me. They all know where to find me.”
By: Hans Themistode
It wasn’t that long ago where a young, enthusiastic Shakur Stevenson begged for the opportunity to face off against one of the best boxers in the world in Vasiliy Lomachenko. In mid-December three years ago, a 20-year-old Stevenson got his wish as the two sparred in Oxnard California.
Details of their session were kept under wraps as a smiling Stevenson would only say that things were competitive. A matchup between the two was never given much thought. Lomachenko was nine years older and has campaigned as high as 135 pounds while Stevenson on the other hand, fought at 126 pounds.
Now though, the two are hovering around the same division. Stevenson has recently made a new home at super featherweight while Lomachenko, coming off the heels of a decision loss against Teofimo Lopez is considering coming down to the same weight class.
The possibility of facing who many believe is still one of the best fighters in the world is something that he would fully embrace. But while it would be a great move for his own career, Stevenson believes it would be detrimental for Lomachenko’s.
“Lomachenko is cool and all but he’s coming off a loss. I don’t think it would be too wise for him,” said Stevenson during an interview with Morning Kombat. “130 is my weight class and if he comes down here he’s going to get something that he doesn’t want. I just feel like he shouldn’t do that. I’m going to give him a fair warning that he shouldn’t do that. I feel like if me and Lomachenko fight that I would beat him worse than Teofimo. I would win every round. It would be hard for him to win any rounds.”
For as much as Stevenson would enjoy building his name off the back of Lomachenko, he currently has an appointment with the unheralded Toka Kahn Clary this upcoming weekend. Stevenson, like always, was complimentary, yet confident of how things will play out.
“I think he’s a solid fighter. He makes a lot of mistakes but he also does a lot of things good. But I think it’s gonna be a great performance by me, I’m just coming in there to perform. I don’t care how good he is, I don’t care what’s in front of me, I just know that I gotta perform.”
By: Hans Themistode
Anthony Joshua always kept a straight face. The current unified heavyweight champion heard the praise that was rained upon him from his fans but he heard the critics even louder.
Not long ago, the 30-year-old British product was accused of avoiding a unification showdown with former WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder. No matter who he faced in the ring, the questions would always revert and center around what seemed to be his reluctance to face Wilder.
No matter how long he kept his poker face on and ignored his critics, their disparaging words would eat at him day after day.
“Back then it was easy to live in my head rent free,” said Joshua to Chris Mannix during a recent interview. “They would tell me that I was ducking Deontay and I tried to back it up.”
For Joshua, the naysayers were easier to avoid in his palatial estate across the pound in England. With that being said, they were impossible to steer clear of once he stepped foot on American soil.
In June of 2019, Joshua made the long trek half way across the world to make his US debut. Waiting to dethrone him was what many believed to be a minimal threat in Andy Ruiz Jr. A win over his opponent was all but guaranteed, so much so that the topic of the conversation was once again shifted in the direction of Deontay Wilder. With Joshua finally beginning his British Invasion, the thought was that the two would meet if not in late 2019 then at the very least, early 2020.
Everything was seemingly figured out. Jump into the ring with Ruiz Jr., beat him down and move on to the real fight. That of course, didn’t happen as Joshua suffered a shocking seventh-round loss on the night.
Excuses were never used on Joshua’s behalf. He simply placed a towel over his head, shook Ruiz Jr.’s hand and sauntered out of the ring. The near 25-1 underdog had won fair and square but with all of the talk revolving around a mega showdown between himself and Wilder, it was difficult for the British product to keep his eye on the prize.
“Last year was difficult when I was about to fight Ruiz. Remember I was that guy who was ducking everyone. I didn’t want to fight Deontay Wilder. I was going on different sports shows in America and they would say why are you ducking Deontay Wilder? I’m trying to explain myself but I’m fighting Ruiz in the background but no one cares about Ruiz. When I’m in the corner you can see I’m not even interested in this fight. Why am I even here?”
Even with his attention diverted, Joshua nearly walked out of Madison Square Garden with his undefeated record intact. In the third round, Joshua floored his man. From there, the women in attendance began grabbing their purses and the men reached for their jackets as the contest was presumed over. That of course, was far from the truth as Ruiz Jr. not only rose to his feet but dropped Joshua twice in the very same round before ultimately ending things in the seventh.
The win for Ruiz Jr. turned him into a superstar. He was given all of the credit in the world as he made daily appearances on television shows around the globe. A defeated Joshua noticed the attention that his man was given. He wasn’t envious of it, but he is firmly under the belief that if he were to handle business on the night, the response in return would’ve been ho-hum.
“There’s no respect or admiration for facing these guys. But when I lose their all saying that Ruiz is the new Rocky and he’s this and that but why wouldn’t you give me that love for beating him?”
Even with Joshua winning their immediate rematch six months later, fast forward roughly one year later, and he finds himself in almost an identical situation. In just a few more days Joshua will make his lone ring appearance as he takes on IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. Much like his first showdown against Ruiz Jr., Pulev, 39, isn’t viewed as much of a threat. Instead, much of the buzz has been centered around a possible matchup with fellow heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
In the past, those thoughts would have distracted him. Now, after learning the hard way, he won’t allow that to happen again.
“I learned to focus on myself. I realize that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.”
By: Hans Themistode
With one look at the huge muscles and impressive physique, it’s easy tell just how hard unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua works on his body. With only a few days left until he puts his titles on the line against perennial contender Kubrat Pulev, Joshua, still possessing muscles that protrude from every part of his body, revealed that the focal point of his training camp had nothing to do with perfecting his monumental frame.
“My body is just a vessel that carries my brain so I trained my brain more so than my body,” said Joshua during a recent interview. “I’m ready war, I’m ready for a fight. I’m looking forward to it.”
Joshua, like many others, was forced to sit patiently on the sidelines as COVID-19 continued to turn the world upside down. The time away may have allowed him to press the reset button but it will have been just over one year since he has last competed in the ring. That of course, came in Saudi Arabia against Andy Ruiz Jr.
After losing to Ruiz Jr. six months prior, Joshua walked into his immediate rematch for the first time in approximately five years without any heavyweight titles strapped around his waist. That however, wouldn’t last long as Joshua pummeled Ruiz Jr. to win those belts back. There was nothing fun about losing his titles in June of 2019. With that being said, being the challenger for a change was something that he thoroughly enjoyed. So much so that he has decided to adopt that mindset for his matchup against Pulev as well.
“I’m just more motivated than him,” said Joshua as he spoke on a daily DAZN show on SiriusXM. “I know that this is everything to me, this performance, this fight is. I feel like I’m fighting for the title, but I’m more experienced. I feel like – I don’t know how to explain it – I feel like I’m a challenger coming in to fight the champion. But I know I’ve done everything I can possible to make sure I get this win, and I’m willing to go in deep waters. So, whatever Pulev brings to the table, I hope I make it look easy because I’m that well prepared.”
With eight straight wins under his belt, Pulev hasn’t tasted defeat since his first title shot against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014. Although Joshua has been busy focusing on his own career, he’s kept a close eye on Pulev for quite some time now. The manner in which he has strung together those wins has forced Joshua to consider him a real threat. Talk coming from those backing Pulev to win via stoppage won’t receive any pushback from Joshua. Instead, an annoyed smile comes across his face.
For the British native, the trash talk is perfectly fine with him. In turn, he simply complements his opponent before offering his own warning.
“I’m just looking at it like Pulev is great. He’s got good balance, he’s [got] a very European style, he’s got a great jab, and he wants to be a bully. I’ve seen him in fights with Wladimir Klitschko, with Hughie Fury, with Rydell Booker and these guys. He wants to bully these guys. But that’s why I say like I’m a killer as well. Even though I’m a businessman, I’ve definitely got a killer instinct in me.”
By: Hans Themistode
Promoter Bob Arum apparently has no problem kicking a man while he’s down.
Top Rank’s CEO sat back in his palatial estate, kicked his feet up and watched a Saturday night filled with boxing. His promotional company had a headliner of light heavyweight contenders in Joe Smith Jr. and Eleider Alvarez. Premier Boxing Champions also had a slot which featured former welterweight champion Shawn Porter and the unheralded Sebastian Formella.
But before either of those shows came on, heavyweight contenders Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin clashed on the other side of the world in a world title eliminator.
Their contest went according to what most envisioned in the early goings. Whyte floored his man twice in the fourth and seemed to be on his way to a stopped victory. Then, out of nowhere, the dramatic theater of boxing struck as Povetkin knocked Whyte clean out in the fifth round.
There were some that felt bad for Whyte as he occupied WBC’s number one ranking for several years. Arum on the other hand, was not amongst them and piled onto the heavyweight contenders’ misery.
“Dillian Whyte was so busy fighting for his WBC mandatory position that he didn’t see Povetkin’s uppercut, which knocked him cold on his ass,” said Arum on his Twitter account.
Following a 2015 loss to current unified champion Anthony Joshua, Whyte, 32, went on a 11 fight win streak. But even with the victories piling up against former champions and current contenders, Whyte couldn’t sniff a crack at a world title.
Every chance he got, the British native called out the WBC sanctioning body for making him wait. Whether it was a rematch with Joshua or a shot against Tyson Fury, Whyte simply wanted his shot. Now, he’ll be forced to wait even longer as he has stated that he will pursue an immediate rematch with Povetkin.
Should he reverse the outcome the second time around, Whyte could have his long awaited rematch with Joshua. However, there won’t be any titles on the line. At least according to Arum.
At the moment, the long time promoter has his heavyweight in Kubrat Pulev sitting in the mandatory IBF position to face Joshua next. Their matchup is set to take place at the back end of 2020, although there has been multiple delays.
When the green light is given for Pulev and Joshua to step into the ring against one another, Arum is expecting the British empire that is Whyte and Joshua, to continue to crumble.
“Pulev will KO Joshua next,” said Arum. “London Bridges are falling.”
By: Hans Themistode
The Heavyweight division has somewhat of an arbitrary list. But just about everyone views the top of the weight class the same. Former WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, current WBC belt holder and Lineal champ Tyson Fury and unified champion Anthony Joshua are all at the top.
One name that is never mentioned amongst those three is Heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev. Actually, forget about the top three, Pulev isn’t considered a top five Heavyweight. And seldom cracks the top 10. That is exactly why most are looking at Anthony Joshua’s upcoming match against Pulev as a gimme.
Well, almost. Had this matchup taken place one year ago in early 2019, then no one would think much of it.
At the time, Joshua was on top of the world. He was fresh off a knockout win over Alexander Povetkin and prior to that, he easily outpointed former champ Joseph Parker. To sum it all up, he looked unstoppable. He was six feet six inches tall and looked like you would need hands made out of steel in order to knock him out. If anyone had an aura of invincibility, it was Joshua. But things quickly changed when he got beat down and stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr.
Give Joshua credit though, he came back six months later and won the immediate rematch. But still, promoter of Pulev, Bob Arum isn’t buying it.
“He has no chin. I knew Andy Ruiz prior to his first fight with Joshua. Every one of Ruiz’s fights except the one previous to that [Alexander Dimitrenko] was promoted by us. So we are experts on Andy Ruiz. We know how good he is, what he lacks, we know he has fast hands, a pretty good chin, but he’s not a knockout guy,” said Arum.
“Trust me, look at his record. He fought a lot of ham & eggers and he couldn’t knock them out. The fact that he knocked out Joshua the way he did indicates to me that Joshua’s chin is very, very suspect. If you compare Ruiz with Pulev, Pulev is a much better fighter than Andy Ruiz. Therefore, what I’ve said is if Ruiz can knock Joshua out, then Pulev has an even better chance to knock him out.”
At one point in time, the words of the 88 year old Arum would be taken as gospel. If he said his man is going to win then that’s what’s going to happen. Now however, he seems to be on an island all by himself as oddsmakers all around the world have made Joshua a huge favorite. -1100 to be exact. Meaning you would have to risk $1,100 just to bring back $100. Pulev on the other hand, would bring back betters $700 for that same $100 bet.
The two are scheduled to face off on June 20th, but with this global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus, their bout has been pushed back. When will it take place is anyone’s guess. But when it does, Arum is fully expecting a Pulev knockout win.
By Johnny Walker
Bulgarian bad boy Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev (16-0, 8 KOs) battered and stopped Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko of Germany (32-2, 21 KOs) today in an entertaining heavyweight scrap in Erfurt, Germany, to win the EBU European heavyweight title.
Pulev, 31, got off to a slow start, as the 6”7” tall Dimitrenko used his reach advantage, working behind a hard left jab and stinging Pulev with some nice body shots to win the first two rounds.
In round three, however, Pulev finally found his range, and never really looked back. A hard right from Pulev rattled the Ukrainian-born German citizen in round four, and Pulev began loading up and throwing haymakers as his confidence grew.
A hard right hand by Pulev cut Dimitrenko close to his left eye in round six, and from that point on it seemed only a matter of time, as Dimitrenko sporadically seemed unsure if he wanted to continue.
Round eight saw Pulev stun Dimitrenko with two hard right hands, which caused the German boxer to turn his back and stop fighting momentarily. Dimitrenko’s face was now a puffy, bloody mess – but he nevertheless attempted to fight back, scoring with some nice body shots near the end of the round.
Pulev continued to strafe Dimitrenko with a variety of shots, and the now demoralized German fighter answered “I don’t think so” between the ninth and tenth rounds when asked by his trainer if he could continue.
Nevertheless, Dimitrenko gave it another try, and in the tenth, both fighters appeared to be tiring, though Pulev landed a nice left-right combo near the end of the round.
The end for Dimitrenko came in round eleven: a hard right hand from Pulev shook Dimitrenko early, and the German was truly ready to go. A nifty up-jab from Pulev caught Dimitrenko square in the face, and the exhausted, beaten German hit the canvas. He had no intention of trying to continue, and after a ten count, Kubrat Pulev became the European heavyweight champion.
Overall, this was an excellent, career-highlight performance from Pulev, who is now a force to contend with in the heavyweight division.