If you have followed this blog at all–which, let’s be honest, you haven’t but let’s just pretend–you’ll have noticed that I have an unhealthy love of boxing. The sport is unmatched in drama. The fighters themselves come from unbelievable backgrounds and come with fascinating stories in and out of the ring–there’s a reason some of our greatest writers, from Hemingway to London, were boxing scribes and fans. The live boxing crowd is one of the few chances you’ll get in the U.S. to have an un-neutered live sporting experience–nobody tells you when to yell or cheer, spontaneous songs burst out from all directions and you’re liable to get a beer spilled on you and catch some extra fights as people square off in the crowd. It’s amazing.
Even with all that, boxing’s system is broken. There are four major sanctioning bodies that give out belts to each weight class with varying degrees of importance giving us multiple champions and muddying up the landscape–and that’s even disregarding the ridiculous amount of smaller belts, interim belts, etc. With every insignificant fight labeled as a ‘championship fight’, the casual fan is confused, the sport’s matches are watered down and nobody knows anything. There isn’t a central organization to rank fighters (though organizations like the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board are taking steps to become this) and the sport is so confusing that you have to be an absurdly dedicated fan to even begin to understand what’s going on.
That said, since the sport is just making shit up at this point, here’s a list put together to the best of my ability to explain who the real current champ is in boxing and the top contender in each division. I’ve tried to single out who holds the ‘lineal’ belt–the top belt in each division–as well as point out who holds the other alphabet titles and the top contenders. I’ll also try to explain a bit about each fighter.
In the world of boxing, a random blogger can do these things and be just as credible as anyone else, and like the sanctioning bodies we can just feel free to make shit up, so I’m calling this the Super Official Boxing Rankings No Seriously Guys Rankings (SOBRNSGR).
I’m going to split this up into a few different posts in the interest of not writing an entire novel in one. I’m going to also skip a few divisions that I’m not as educated about–cruiserweights for example, are a weak division and almost all the top guys are based overseas–and since, you know, I’m not getting paid for this shit I’m going to spend my time on the divisions I know.
|LINEAL CHAMP||WBC CHAMP||WBA CHAMP||IBF CHAMP||WBO CHAMP|
|Wladimir Klitchko||Bermane Stiverne||Wladimir Klitschko||Wladimir Klitschko||Wladimir Klitschko|
Champ: Wladimir Klitschko, Ukraine (62-3, 52 KO)
With Wladimir’s brother Vitali retiring, Wlad is clearly the class of the weak heavyweights. Standing at 6’6, built of solid muscle and technically sound, Klitschko has learned to hide his weakness (a questionable chin) behind a stiff jab and solid ring smarts. It’s been a decade since he lost a fight (a 2004 KO against Lamon Brewster), but his competition has been lackluster and his fights lack drama, as he’s content to outpoint and outsmart his way through weak opposition. It’d be great to see someone give him a real challenge, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Wlad in an interesting fight.
Other Beltholders, Contenders and People of Interest:
- Bermane Stiverne, Canada (24-1-1, 21 KO) — Stiverne is a solid contender who has burst onto the scene with two wins over the talented but limited Chris Arreola. He won the vacant WBC title in his second win over Arreola so being a beltholder is slightly misleading here. He packs some power and has solid technical ability, though it remains to be scene if he’s a true threat to Wlad’s throne.
- Deontay Wilder, USA (32-0, 32 KO) — Wilder is a monster, matching Wlad in size at 6’6 and having a deadly right hand that hits like a mule kicks. He has mowed through everyone in his path, and quickly–the only issue being there really hasn’t been anyone of note on his resume. His one fight against an experienced fighter, against Malik Scott, was a joke of a fight, with Scott either being being completely washed up or just not wanting to fight as he went down and out on a relatively soft punch from Wilder in the first round. Given his lack of competition, Wilder is still an unknown commodity–but if he lives up to the hype, we will see if he truly is the next great American heavyweight.
- Tyson Fury, UK (22-0, 16 KO) — Fury, who made an appearance earlier in this post as the guy punching himself in the face, is an interesting dude. A Gypsy fighter who is brash, loud and dumb, he is a character if nothing else, and at 6’9 posses the size to be a real contender, if not the skill. In recent fights he’s looked a bit out of shape and he’s had some terrible luck having fights canceled due to opponent injury. He’s one to watch, as at least he’s not boring.
- Kubrat Pulev, Bulgaria (20-0, 11 KO) — Klitschko’s next opponent, Pulev is a microcosm of the heavyweight division as it stands now. A plodding fighter without world-beating power whose biggest win is against an old Tony Thompson, it says a lot about the division that he is ranked in the top 5. Not a bad fighter, but far from a great one.
- Bryant Jennings, USA (19-0, 10 KO) — Jennings, who I’ve written about before and both seen fight live and met in person, is a nice guy, an athletic fighter and someone who has made big improvements in recent years, with nice wins over mid-tier fighters like Artur Szpilka, Mike Perez and Andrey Fedesov. He has nice size for the most part (though at 6’2 he’s too small to seriously challenge Klitschko) but doesn’t strike me as a world-beater. He got a late start in the boxing game and will be a name, at least, as long as he keeps pulling out wins.
- Other names of interest: Alexander Povetkin, Russia (27-1, 19 KO); Dereck Chisora, UK (20-4, 13 KO); Vyachaslev Glazkov, Ukraine (17-0-1, 11 KO)
Next up: light heavyweights and super middleweights.