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Who Is the Best Cruiserweight in the World?

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Photo by Hogan Photos

The Cruiserweight division continues to be one of the hottest divisions in the world of boxing.

Cruiserweights from every corner of the world are eyeing the throne.

Who will come out on top?

Current Top Cruiserweights

Oleksandr Usyk (11-0) Kiev, Ukraine – WBO Champion

Oleksandr Usyk made the jump from amateur champion, to prospect, to champion all rather quickly.

With only nine professional fights under his belt, Usyk outboxed heavy-handed Krzysztof Glowacki to seize the WBO title. Usyk followed this up with a dominant knockout of Thabiso Mchunu.

He is currently signed to fight this March against an opponent to be announced.

Future: At only 29, Usyk has hit his prime, and is looking to take over the pound-for-pound ranks. If he successfully takes over the division, a move up to Heavyweight is possible.

 

Tony Bellew (28-2-1) Liverpool, United Kingdom – WBC Champion

Starting his career as a Light Heavyweight, Tony “Bomber” Bellew has had to scratch and claw his way towards the top.

After two unsuccessful attempts at the title, Bellew moved up to Cruiserweight, a division more fitting for him. He challenged Ilunga Makabu for the vacant WBC title.

He came back from an early knockdown to blast Makabu and win the title. Since then he has made a successful defense against B.J. Flores.

Future: Bellew is moving up to Heavyweight to take on fellow countryman David Haye. Win or lose, Bellew will still have his title. What follows after the fight is anyone’s guess.

 

Marco Huck (40-3-1) Berlin, Germany – Former WBO Champion

A longtime force in the division, Marco Huck nearly made Cruiserweight history against Krzysztof Glowacki for most title defenses.

Glowacki came back to knockout Huck, but Huck has made a great comeback since then. He retired Ola Afolabi, then dominated Russian slugger Dmytro Kucher. Huck is as resilient as they come, and always makes for a great fight.

Future: Huck is scheduled to face dynamite puncher Mairis Briedis. Whoever comes out victorious should be in line for a title shot.

 

Mairis Briedis (21-0) Riga, Latvia

Packing some of the heaviest hands in boxing, Mairis Briedis exploded onto the boxing scene by flattening Heavyweight, Manuel Charr, despite an over 30-pound weight difference against him.

Briedis is a bruiser–he doesn’t make for good fights, he makes for great knockouts.

Future: Briedis faces Marco Huck in what should be an explosive matchup. If a tank like Huck can’t stand up to Briedis’ thunder, than the entire division should be afraid.

 

Murat Gassiev (24-0) Vladikavkaz, Russia – IBF Champion

Murat Gassiev caught the boxing world’s eye with a brutal, head-spinning, body-flattening knockout of Jordan Shimmell. He then challenged Denis Lebedev for the IBF title.

In an amazing contest of young versus old, Gassiev earned an entirely fair split-decision win over the Russian brawler.

Future: Gassiev has stated that he wants to unify the titles, which is entirely possible. He’s young, powerful, skilled, and after his showing against Lebedev, has the heart. For Gassiev, the sky is the limit.

 

Krzysztof Glowacki (26-1) Walcz, Poland. Former WBO Champion

Krzysztof Glowacki was matched against Marco Huck for Huck’s then WBO title. Huck was one fight away from making Cruiserweight history for title defenses. Glowacki wasn’t looking to be part of someone else’s history, however.

In a back-and-forth brawl, Glowacki made a comeback from behind on the scorecards and a vicious knockdown to stop Huck and win the title. Glowacki’s first title defense was against Steve Cunningham.

Cunningham fought well put couldn’t stand up to Glowacki’s power, and lost a wide decision. Glowacki then lost his title against Oleksandr Usyk. Though he was game, Glowacki just wasn’t on Usyk’s level, and lost clearly.

Future: After the loss to Usyk, Glowacki is back to square one. That’s not such a bad thing, however. He has the power and will to give any current Cruiserweight a real challenge. Don’t count him out just yet.

 

Denis Lebedev (29-3) Chekhov, Russia – WBA Super World Champion

Lebedev is the Orlando Salido of the Cruiserweight division–no matter how old he may be, how beaten up he gets, he remains a top fighter.

There is no stopping him, no matter how hard you hit him, knock him down, or even try to outbox him. He won the interim WBA title by beating James Toney in a fight that really shouldn’t have happened. He was soon elevated to WBA World Champion.

He made several successful defenses before unifying his WBA title and IBF title by walking through Victor Emilio Ramirez in two rounds. He lost his IBF title to Murat Gassiev, but still retains his WBA title.

Future: At 37 years old, Lebedev might be facing the twilight of his career. Yet, you can never count him out. A rematch with Gassiev could be possible, or he could simply move on and defend his current title. Lebedev still has options.

 

Beibut Shumenov (17-2) Shymkent, Kazakhstan – WBA Champion

Beibut Shumenov won the WBA Light heavyweight title from Gabriel Campillo in a blatant robbery. After some modest title defenses, Shumenov faced Bernard Hopkins and was given a true boxing lesson in defeat.

Shumenov moved up to Cruiserweight and won the interim WBA title from B.J. Flores. Shumenov then won the vacant WBA champion from Junior Anthony Wright.

Future: Shumenov needs to be more active as a fighter. He’s only fought once in 2015 and 2016. He’s not much a draw, but he does possess decent skills and a title. A title unification with Denis Lebedev would be interesting.

 

Contenders

Tarver vs. Cunningham Weigh In - Lucas Noonan PBC (10)

Photo by Lucas Noonan/PBC

Ilunga Makabu:  Makabu was knocked out by Tony Bellew for the vacant WBC title. Makabu packs a lot of thunder and is a solid technician, so hopefully he can rebound and make his mark in the division.

Steve Cunningham: The 40-year-old former-cruiserweight champion has moved down from heavyweight in hope of repeating past success. He fought well but lost against Krzysztof Glowacki and hasn’t fought since. Cunningham’s clock might be running out.

Maksim Vlasov: Vlasov has made a successful jump from super-middleweight all the way to Cruiserweight. He took out prospect Ismayl Sillakh, and has slowly been rising through the ranks.

Yunier Dorticos: Dorticos possess the interim WBA title after rallying against Youri Kayembre Kalenga. Dorticos is relatively unknown, with his most notable win against a faded Edison Miranda.

Krzysztof Wlodarczyk: Wlodarczyk isn’t done yet. He lost his WBC title in 2014, but after taking a year off, has rallied off three comeback wins. One last shot at the title could be within his grasps.

 

Header photo by Rick Schultz/Getty Images

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