The top five pretty much pick themselves, with top contender Whyte joining belt-holders Ruiz and Wilder, plus former champs Joshua and Fury, but who is the next in line?
The top three in the heavyweight division had been pretty much set in stone before June 1, the night Andy Ruiz Jr shook the hierarchy to its core by upending and unseating unified ruler Anthony Joshua. With WBC king Deontay Wilder having looked rather fortunate to grab a draw against self-professed ‘lineal’ king Tyson Fury six months previously, the supremo trio became an awesome foursome. Given contender Dillian Whyte, regardless of how you feel about out-of-the-ring controversy, has a slew of wins against top five-15 opponents, he is the obvious choice for the fifth best heavyweight in the world, based on results and performance. As we head into Joshua vs Ruiz 2 on December 7 in Saudi Arabia, which could once again rejig the podium order, it seems as good a time as any to discuss who might be No. 6.
Read our analysis below and tweet us @SecondsOutLive to tell us who you’d pick for the slot.
Points defeats to Joshua and Whyte followed an unremarkable WBO title reign but the New Zealander appears rejuvenated and hoping to reschedule a crossroads fight with old warhorse Dereck Chisora that was cancelled when Parker suffered a spider bite during preparations. The 27-year-old (yes, really!) does of course hold a victory, however contentious, over Andy Ruiz Jr, the only current unified champion in the division.
A former WBA ruler and Olympic gold medallist defeated by Joshua last year, following a spirited early period in which he posed AJ problems, has since vanquished Hughie Fury. The Russian’s only other reverse was to Wladimir Klitschko somewhere around the dominant Ukranian’s peak and, even at 40, Povetkin would still be favoured to beat the vast majority of his peers, although not (with the bookies) next opponent Michael Hunter, who he meets on the Ruiz vs Joshua 2 bill.
The Bulgarian former amateur star has won eight on the spin since his sole defeat, to Klitschko back in 2014. This run includes clear points victories over Chisora and Hughie Fury. He has been the IBF mandatory challenger for what seems like forever, but has actually been just over a year. At a rugged 38, there are signs he is ever so slightly fading but Kubrat will fancy his chances against the December 7 winner.
The slick Cuban has lost only to Deontay Wilder, albeit twice, and was arguably in charge in both WBC title challenges before feeling the vaunted “Bronze Bomber” power. The 40-year-old (officially) southpaw has got past a number of fringe contenders and will look to rebuild quickly and secure a shot at a different champion next time.
Michael Hunter has won six in a row since moving up to heavyweight and in gradually improving company, while his sole conqueror Oleksandr Usyk was undisputed champion at cruiser and did little wrong during his debut in the heaviest division against late substitute Chazz Witherspoon in October.