The Ring #5, TBR #5 contender Tomasz Adamek (48-2, 29 KO)
The US-based Polish former Cruiserweight Champion had a busy year in today`s standards, fighting four times in rebuilding his heavyweight career after a devastating 2011 beat-down suffered in the hands of Vitali Klitschko. He started by decisioning journeyman Nagy Aguilera in March and then taking on injury-riddled former Ring Championship challenger Eddie Chambers, who gave Adamek a fairly good fight despite not being able to throw a left hand after injuring his shoulder in the first round. After decisioning Chambers Adamek TKOed Travis Walker in the fifth round in September before taking on former cruiserweight standout Steve Cunningham in a rematch of a barnburner the two men put on for the Ring Cruiserweight Championship in 2008. Adamek was at times baffled by Cunningham`s boxing skills but was able to escape with a split decision victory mainly due to his aggressiveness and better output of power shots against Cunningham`s pitty-pat jabbing. The 36-year-old veteran is nearing the twilight of his career looking for his last shot at heavyweight glory in 2013.
The Ring #6, TBR #9 contender Robert Helenius (18-0, 11 KO)
The 28-year-old Finnish prospect was one of the heavyweight stories of 2011, but he took a step back in 2012. The reason for it was a serious shoulder injury suffered in training before a December 2011 European title fight which Helenius won with a disputed split decision over Dereck Chisora. The shoulder was operated on in January and Helenius spent the better part of the year rehabbing. Finally he made his ring return in November against Bahamian journeyman Sherman Williams in Helsinki, Finland. The ring rust showed as Helenius scored a clear but uneventful decision over his opponent. There has been talk about a possible European title fight for Helenius in the case Kubrat Pulev relinquishes his Euro belt for a shot at the Klitschkos.
The Ring #7 contender Denis Boytsov (31-0, 25 KO)
A couple of years ago the now 26-year-old Russian Denis Boytsov was touted as one of the hottest young heavyweight prospects as he shot up the ratings with an exciting fighting style and devastating punching power. Unfortunately, for the last two years his career has been in total limbo, sidetracked by injury problems and incompetent management. Boytsov fought twice in the spring of 2012, against American journeymen Darnell Wilson (KO 4) and Dominick Guinn (UD 10), but has since had among other things one fight canceled due to illness, his elbow surgically repaired and his promoter Universum go bankrupt. There has been some talk about Boytsov stepping in the ring in early 2013 against another top 10 contender Tyson Fury – a fight that was originally planned for December 2012.
TBR #7 contender Eddie Chambers (36-3, 18 KO)
One of the better American heavyweights during recent times, Eddie Chambers has had a tough couple of years battling injuries. Chambers has fought only twice since his March 2010 KO loss to Wladimir Klitschko. In 2012 he fought once, against Tomasz Adamek in June. In that fight he tore a tendon in his shoulder in the first round and couldn`t throw a left hand in the rest of the fight. Still, he managed to keep the fight fairly close, losing a unanimous decision. In November Chambers, who for several years hasn`t weighed in over 210 pounds, informed that he was going to set his sights on the Cruiserweight Championship, leaving the heavyweight division to the naturally bigger men.
TBR #8, The Ring #10 contender Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KO)
The rising British prospect entered the top 10 rankings with a strong showing in 2012. In April he TKOed Martin Rogan in the fifth and the same fate came to Vinny Maddalone in July. Finally in December Fury stepped up the competition, fighting Kevin Johnson whose only loss in a full fight had come against Vitali Klitschko in 2009 (the other loss was a three-rounder in a Prizefighter tournament). The 24-year-old Briton showed maturity, patience and boxing skills in recording a clear decision victory against the American veteran, raising his stock considerably. Fury is a marketable character, so lucrative fights loom in his horizon possibly already in 2013, namely challenging Wladimir Klitschko for The Ring Heavyweight Throne or a blockbuster domestic clash with another rising British star, David Price.
The Ring #8 contender Ruslan Chagaev (30-2-1, 19 KO)
After losing to Alexander Povetkin in his only fight of 2011, Ruslan Chagaev, who fought Wladimir Klitschko for the vacant Ring Heavyweight Championship in 2009, started rebuilding in 2012 with three fights against journeyman opposition. The 34-year-old native of Uzbekistan decisioned Kertson Manswell in January, TKOed Billy Zumbrun in three in April and Werner Kreiskott in seven in September. Chagaev was also mired in the Universum troubles, bolting the company in July. Since then the Uzbek has been in search of a background team. A fight scheduled in December against Cuban prospect Mike Perez fell through due to Perez shoulder injury but during 2013 we could see Chagaev in a fight against a rising prospect. It is doubtful, though, that the veteran will ever again get a chance to fight for the biggest prize.
The Ring #9 contender Chris Arreola (35-2, 30 KO)
After an active five-fight rebuilding year of 2011, Chris Arreola`s pace slowed down in 2012. The American, whose only losses are against Vitali Klitschko and Tomasz Adamek, ended up fighting only once this year, KOing Eric Molina in the first round in February. Injuries derailed the latter part of Arreola`s year, but he is now slated to face Canadian Bermane Stiverne in March 2013 in a meaningful match-up with alphabet soup considerations.
TBR #10 contender Steve Cunningham (25-5, 12 KO)
Former cruiserweight standout had a trying 2012. After losing the fight for the vacant Ring Cruiserweight Championship against Yoan Pablo Hernandez in February, Cunningham decided to join David Haye, Tomasz Adamek, Jean Marc Mormeck and Marco Huck as yet another cruiser trying his hand in boxing`s glamour division. In his heavyweight debut he decisioned Jason Gavern over 10 rounds in September. Then he took a leap in the level of opposition by taking on top 10 contender and former cruiser foe Tomasz Adamek. Despite a 20-pound weight disadvantage Cunningham was able to hold his own by boxing cleverly and frustrating Adamek from time to time. In the end Adamek was able to escape with a split decision victory that didn`t sit well with Cunningham. Despite the loss the 36-year-old veteran`s spirited showing was rewarded with a top 10 ranking by TBR. Cunningham`s future in the heavies looks cloudy, since he would not be an easy opponent for any American heavyweight.
January 3, 2012