Doghouse Boxing's Top 25 Heavyweights
By Bobby Jones (July 24, 2005)
In keeping with the college football season I’ve decided to rank the top 25 heavyweights in the world as I see them. While boxing doesn’t have a set season, obviously, we are coming up to a point where over the next couple months that’s going to dictate the heavyweight scene for possibly years to come. Now, much like the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in the NCAA rankings upset a lot of people, I’m going to guess my rankings might not make everyone happy. But unlike the BCS I will try my best to explain why I have each fighter ranked where they are. I am not using any organizations rankings or even the respected Ring rankings as resources (even thought Vitali Klitschko is also my number 1 as it is with ‘The Ring’ rankings). Let the debates begin:
1. Vitali Klitschko
I chose him for my number 1 much the same way a lot of teams achieve there high rankings. He’s beaten everyone that’s he’s fought since being ahead on all the scorecards when his fight with Lennox Lewis was stopped. They have been fairly dominating victories, but not against top competition; I give him this ranking for his recent victories and for hanging in there with who would be number 1 if he didn’t retire, Lennox Lewis.
2. John Ruiz
I can literally hear thousands of Doghouse readers rolling their collective eyes as the read this. Let me explain though, this isn’t an article about who has the most talent because Ruiz wouldn’t make my top 50, let alone 25, but he deserves this spot here. Yes, Toney did beat him, but he tested positive for steroids so it goes into the books as a no contest, as if this fight never happened. We know it did, but I have to respect this. Ruiz has beaten top contender after top contender with the exception of Roy Jones Jr. for last five years. You could honestly, as much as this hurts me to write, make a bid for him to be number 1, but I gave that to Klitschko for the way he defeated his opponents. As you all know, some of Ruiz’s tactics (OK all of them) are questionable, but somehow he continues to win.
3. Chris Byrd
I really wanted to put him at number 2 but Chris Byrd has taken the equivalent of a bye week in college football. When Miami lost their number 1 ranking 3 years ago after being on top of the standing for 33 weeks it wasn’t because they lost, it was because they didn’t play that week. Chris Byrd, much like Ruiz, has found a way recently to sneak by opponents with a victory. Even as we speak there are hardly even any talks as to when Byrd my fight again. Byrd has great boxing skills, but as he is getting older it appears they are fading, and if he wants to unify anytime soon, let along raise to number 1 on my rankings (I’m sure that’s a big concern to him) he better start being more active.
4. James Toney
It’s hard for me to justify this ranking for him, but I do because of his overall level of skill. He’s fighting heavyweights as a former middleweight champion. I’m going to contradict myself a little here, but he beat my number 2 guy before the steroids turned that around. He’s fighting Dominic Guinn next, a guy that was once called ‘the next big thing’ but has struggled as of late. A lot of guys will question an opponent like this. He’s running out of justifiable reasons for not fighting the champions. He’s also getting old and he’s injury prone. The time for Toney to cash in on the heavyweight division is rapidly approaching.
5. Hasim Rahman
Rahman is coming off a victory against his good friend Monte Barrett. This match was little more then a glorified sparring session in the eyes of many. One good thing that can come out of this is Rahman was arguably in the best shape of his life for this fight, and easily the best since he upset Lennox Lewis in 2001. Rahman hasn’t fought the toughest opposition, but I defend him because at least he has fought a lot and activity has to be good for something. Next up for him is a shot at my number 1 Vitali Klitschko. He’ll need to come in again in impeccable shape, and maybe wing that right hand as much as he can before Klitschko decides to test his chin.
6. Lamon Brewster
Lamon Brewster blew out a fighter who was recently only a few mere points away from being a champion in two of the sanctioning bodies; and you can make arguments he won both those fights. He’s getting a lot of credit on my rankings for what the bowl rankings in college football seem to like: strength of schedule. Lamon Brewster is going to Germany to fight an entire nation as they celebrate the birthday of their most famous sports icon, Max Schmeling, next month. I compare this too going into Gainesville, FL to take on the Gators in front of 80,000 strong. His opponent Luan Kransiqi is also underrated and will give Brewster all the fight he’s looking for in my opinion. We shall see though.
7. Samuel Peter
He reminds me of the Miami team who ran through everybody until they got to the title game against Ohio State. Could Wlad Klitschko be Samuel Peter’s Ohio State? In a little over a month we will find out in what is looking to be one of the better heavyweight match ups of the year so far.
8. Calvin Brock
Brock just recently got married so he may not be in a hurry to get back in the ring. He got by Jameel McCline in a very exciting heavyweight bout (the best heavyweight bout on PPV this year). He’s since fought a stay busy fight with Kenny Craven just to remind people he’s still there. Brock is just about ready for a title shot and is still underrated by many boxing fans and writers alike.
9. Wladimir Klitchko
Klitschko has a chance to dethrone Peter of the title he once held, ‘The Next Big Thing’. This fight is so compelling in so many ways. You could see destinies for these two fighters literally flip flop if Klitschko can stop Peter convincingly. He will automatically jump back up near the top of everybody’s rankings, including mine.
10. Luan Krasniqi
Now, he’s my first real dark horse. I think he is highly underrated and under appreciated for his boxing skills. I like his schedule (Brewster in Germany) and I think he has a chance to beat any of the alphabet champions with the possible exception of Vitali Klitschko. He only has 1 loss on his record that came against Przemyslaw Saleta when he punched himself out, a mistake others have been forgiven for. Eight months later Krasniqi knocked out Saleta in 1, making him one of the few heavyweight boxers right now to have beaten every man they have fought.
11. Nicolay Valuev
Valuev is 41-0 against limited opposition. He’s coming up on Rocky Marciano’s record, but in no way can you even begin to compare the two until Valuev steps up considerably. Also, Rocky was about 5’10 and Valuev is 7’1 ½. Valuev is facing his toughest challenge yet when he steps in the ring with Larry Donald, now that’s not saying much. What Valuev can get out of this, if victorious, is beating a fairly known American opponent and possibly getting an HBO or Showtime date to introduce the non knowing public to the ‘Beast from the East’.
12. Andrew Golota
Like I mentioned under Brewster, Golota was just 3 points away from unifying 2 out of the 3 ‘major titles’. Golota has been touted as a possible opponent for Valuev. I think this would be a good fight to see where both of these fighters stand in the always wide-open heavyweight division.
13. Jameel McCline
The word ‘gatekeeper’ is used a lot in boxing terminology. To me, no-one defines this word more then Jameel McCline. He’s more then your typical ‘gatekeeper’ but he’s always just so close to a title shot or a big fight you just can’t count him out. He’s fighting this Friday against a person most of us fans haven’t heard of, but I can almost guarantee his next opponent will be of someone you’ve heard of, probably someone above him on this list.
14. Kirk Johnson
I have him rated this high basically on talent alone. When motivated and in shape (probably one in the same) he’s very difficult to beat. As of now he has no opponent announced, but I’m pretty certain he’ll be fighting top 10 type guys in the not so near future.
15. Sinan Samil Sam
SSS hasn’t lost since his MD loss to my number 10 guy, Luan Kraniqi, six fights ago. You get to a point in the rankings where you are really questioning where to put guys, basically just because, and I’m going to try to stay positive, they are all so even. I think SSS is a fighter who can surprise some people near the top 10 and maybe even garner himself a title fight one day.
16. DaVarryl Williamson
This is a guy much like McCline in that he always seems to be right there. He fought close with Wlad Klitschko, beat rejuvenated Oliver McCall and most recently knocked out Derrick Jefferson, not a great opponent, but he got rid of him as well he should have. Williamson may be next for Byrd if he ever decides to fight again and he may have what it takes to upset my number 3 fighter.
17. Monte Barrett
Maybe I dropped him a little to low, but it wouldn’t take much for him to get right back up after his loss to Rahman. I guess a part of me is upset because I paid 40 dollars for that fight, but I guess this was just as much Rahman’s fault as Barrett’s. Seriously though, Barrett will probably more then likely get that that ‘gatekeeper’ moniker that I was speaking about, which wouldn’t be a bad role for him, because getting a couple of those wins could put him right back up there for a title shot.
18. Serguei Lyakhovich
This guy just has bad luck when it comes to injuries. He was supposed to fight Owen Beck but had to pull out, and earlier this year was being touted as a possible Vitali Klitschko opponent. His one loss came to Maurice Harris, but he says he was injured that fight, and you tend to believe him after beating Dominic Guinn fairly easily.
19. Owen Beck
Ray Austin isn’t a push over and Beck will have to bring his A game for this fight. Beck’s fight with Barrett was a loss, but it wasn’t a normal lose. I got the feeling that this guy could be a top ten fighter for years to come and that his loss to Barrett was just a minor setback in what could be a promising career.
20. Audley Harrison
His time is now, no question about it. He’s 33 years old already and has yet to fight a top 20 fighter. I rate him this high because of the obvious ability he seems to have and the lack of other fighters to rate this high. Harrison’s next fight should be against someone the majority of boxing fans recognize, someone in my top 8 to 16 range I believe.
21. Matt Skelton
Take everything I’ve wrote about Harrison and multiply that by 10. Skelton is 38 years old. He seems to have great ability and is a knockout threat every time he steps in the ring. He too is ready for a top 15 type of guy.
22. Oleg Maskaev
Maskaev is a wild card here. With his big right hand he can knock anyone out on any given night. At the same time though, he can be knocked out by any of the top guys big right hands just as easily. His name has been bounced around a little of late to fighting some bigger names. He’ll more then likely fight a top 10 guy before the year is out.
23. Oliver McCall
The fact that he’s in my top 25 isn’t saying a lot for the division, but he is coming off a big win against Saleta in a fight where he wasn’t expected to do much. McCall at 40 has as good skills as many of the top guys and since he is a Don King guy you could see him fighting for a title within the year or early next year. He only has so long though being the oldest fighter in my top 25 (no, Holyfield didn’t make the list).
24. Dominic Guinn
Guinn has one more chance to prove that he’s still capable of being a force in the heavyweight division. Unfortunately, he has to do that against one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of all time in James Toney (weight jokes aside, please). Guinn appears to have the tools to still succeed, but right now it may be a mental thing, as he appears to not want to throw any punches anymore.
25. Vassiliy Jirov
Jirov is coming off an 8 round draw with ancient Orlin Norris. He is coming close to a point where he’s going to have to decide whether he drops down to cruiserweight or stays at heavyweight and becomes sort of a stepping stone. His last fight was fought at temperatures of over 110 degrees. Also Jirov came in at a very heavy 223 pounds. He has some excuses to go by for his last outing, but they can only take you so far.
Others receiving votes: Kevin McBride, Shannon Briggs, Larry Donald, Tye Fields, Corrie Sanders.
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