The Ring ratings reviewed 2023: Heavyweight
The Ring first introduced its divisional ratings in 1925. Almost a century later, it’s no exaggeration to claim that these independent rankings are the most respected and talked-about in world boxing.
The Ring Ratings Panel is made up of a dozen experts from around the world. Opinions are shared, debate takes place, and the final decision on who should be rated where is decided democratically every week. It sounds easy, but this can be an arduous and time-consuming process.
During the pandemic, we reviewed and broke down each division in full. In a two-pronged approach, we looked back at the respective achievements of the finest fighters in the world and analyzed what lay ahead.
Last year, we looked back on how each division was doing and have decided after a busy first half of 2023 to compile another divisional breakdown.
Next up is heavyweight, which has two kings vying for supremacy. Below that there is a solid middle order and a handful of guys looking to break into that crowd. All in all boxing’s glamor division isn’t in bad shape though could definitely use them being more active. As always, please enjoy the debate and respect other people’s opinions.
CHAMPION: OLEKSANDR USYK
RECORD: 21-0 (14 KOs)
THE PAST: Usyk was an outstanding amateur, who captured gold at the 2012 Olympics. He cleaned out the cruiserweight division, beating Krzysztof Glowacki (UD 12), Marco Huck (TKO 10), Mairis Briedis (MD 12), Murat Gassiev (UD 12) and Tony Bellew (TKO 8), all in their home countries. After moving up to heavyweight, Usyk was hampered by injuries and the pandemic. He scored a routine win over late substitute Chazz Witherspoon (RTD 7) and outpointed perennial trier Derek Chisora (UD 12). However, the proud Ukrainian reminded everyone just how special he is when he twice bested Joshua (UD 12/ MD 12). More recently he stopped Daniel Dubois (KO 9) in front of over 40,000 fans in Poland.
THE FUTURE: Has signed to face Tyson Fury next, though doesn’t currently have a venue or date.
No. 1 TYSON FURY
RECORD: 33-0-1 (23 KOs)
THE PAST: Fury went the traditional route, winning British, Commonwealth and European titles. He didn’t always impress and had to get off the canvas along the way. However, he remained unbeaten in 24 fights but was a huge underdog when he shocked Wladimir Klitschko (UD 12) to become Ring, IBF, WBA and WBO titles in November 2015. His life unraveled outside the ring and he didn’t fight for two-and-a-half years. To his credit, he turned his life around and whipped himself into shape losing several stone and mounted a comeback. “The Gypsy King” came close to unseating WBC titlist Deontay Wilder (D 12). In their rematch Fury impressively stopped the American in seven-rounds to claim the vacant Ring championship and WBC belt. They fought a rubber match and Fury again showed his outstanding recuperative powers, twice getting off the floor to stop Wilder (KO 11). Since then he’s marked time against Dillian Whyte (TKO 6) and Derek Chisora (TKO 10) in big events in the U.K.
THE FUTURE: He’ll face MMA star Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday before locking horns with Usyk.
“I’m ready to knock a motherf***er out!” 💥@Tyson_Fury is a master on the mic, and a master in the ring 😅🎤🥊#BattleOfTheBaddest | #FuryNgannou | Saturday, 6PM | Live on TNT Sports Box Office pic.twitter.com/Plkz4FwLSy
— Boxing on TNT Sports (@boxingontnt) October 25, 2023
No. 2 DEONTAY WILDER
RECORD: 43-2-1 (42 KOs)
THE PAST: The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist turned professional and won his first 32 fights inside the distance. He outboxed Bermane Stiverne (UD 12) to win the WBC title and made 10 successful defenses. The Alabama native displayed his much-vaunted power icying Stiverne (KO 1) in a rematch and Luis Ortiz (TKO 10 and KO 7) to set up the eagerly anticipated showdown with Fury. He benefitted from the scorecards to retain his title on a draw but was beaten down in the rematch and stopped in seven rounds and lost an exciting third fight in 11-rounds. Wilder returned with a violent knockout of Robert Helenius (KO 1).
THE FUTURE: He has long talked about facing Anthony Joshua but as yet nothing has been agreed. The American has been off a year so needs to fight again soon.
No. 3 ANTHONY JOSHUA
RECORD: 26-3 (23 KOs)
THE PAST: Joshua won gold at the 2012 Olympics. He turned professional and won British and Commonwealth championships before stopping American Charles Martin (KO 2) to lift the IBF title. The hugely popular Brit defeated Wladimir Klitschko (TKO 11) and Joseph Parker (UD 12) to add WBA and WBO titles to his collection and was largely dominant against solid competitors Carlos Takam and Alexander Povetkin. Joshua was shockingly stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr. (TKO 7) but regained his titles against the ill-disciplined Mexican/ American in a direct rematch by one-sided unanimous decision. After beating mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (KO 9), Joshua was twice beaten by Usyk (UD 12/ MD 12). The 34-year-old has returned with wins over Jermaine Franklin (UD 12) and Helenius (KO 7) but hasn’t been overly impressive in doing so.
THE FUTURE: Joshua could return later this year or work toward a potential deal to face Wilder, which has so far proven problematic.
Prepare for glory. pic.twitter.com/Xl8E3XsPsR
— Anthony Joshua (@anthonyjoshua) October 25, 2023
No. 4 ZHILEI ZHANG
RECORD: 26-1 (21 KOs)
THE PAST: Zhang captured silver for China at the 2008 Olympics and lost narrowly to eventual gold medal winner Anthony Joshua at London 2012. “Big Bang” turned professional in 2014. His progress was slow until he stepped up and faced unbeaten Filip Hrgovic, losing a contentious 12-round unanimous decision. However, the 40-year-old Chinese southpaw scored a career best win over Joyce (TKO 6) in April and followed that up with an even more emphatic third round knockout in their rematch last month.
THE FUTURE: The Chinese southpaw wants a heavyweight title shot but may have to stay busy while he waits for the Fury-Usyk winner.
No. 5 JOSEPH PARKER
RECORD: 32-3 (22 KOs)
THE PAST: The former amateur standout from New Zealand claimed the vacant WBO title at the expense of Andy Ruiz Jr. (MD 12) and made two defenses before losing a unification with Anthony Joshua (UD 12). He lost a razor-thin decision to Dillian Whyte but won his next six fights, which included a pair of wins over perennial contender Chisora (SD 12/ UD 12). The 31-year-old lost a physically grueling fight against Joe Joyce (KO 11) but has rebounded with two lower-level wins this year.
THE FUTURE: He’ll face Simon Kean in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
No. 6 FILIP HRGOVIC
RECORD: 15-0 (12 KOs)
THE PAST: Hrgovic was a standout amateur, who claimed bronze at the 2016 Olympics. After turning professional, the big Croatian has moved steadily and generally looked impressive beating fringe contender Amir Mansour (KO 3), former title challenger Eric Molina (KO 3) and he became the first to stop Rydell Booker (TKO 5). He barely edging past Zhang (UD 12) to become the IBF mandatory. In his most recent outing he stopped Demsey McKean (TKO 12).
THE FUTURE: The IBF mandatory challenger is entitled to face Usyk but is in a holding pattern for the moment and may have to keep himself busy in the meantime.
No. 7 JARED ANDERSON
RECORD: 16-0 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: Anderson was a talented amateur domestically before turning professional in 2019. Since then he’s steadily moved forward. The 23-year-old Toledo native drew acclaim for going into camp with Fury and giving the WBC titlist good work. The impressive manner in which he took out middle-level opponents Miljan Rovcanin (KO 2) and Jerry Forrest (TKO 2) suggested bigger things were to come. Anderson took out the smaller but unbeaten George Arias (RTD 3) and had to endure some adversity in front of his own fans against wily former IBF titleholder Charles Martin on his way to a 10-round unanimous decision. In his most recent outing he scored a routine win over Andrii Rudenko (TKO 5).
THE FUTURE: He had minor hand surgery which curtailed any plans to fight again this year and will return in February.
No. 8 JOE JOYCE
RECORD: 15-2 (15 KOs)
THE PAST: Joyce came to boxing late but enjoyed a highly productive amateur career, winning the ABA title, Commonwealth and European gold and silver at the 2016 Olympics. He turned professional at 32 and moved quickly winning the Commonwealth title in his fourth outing and went on to score useful wins over one-time prospect Joe Hanks (KO 1), former titleholder Bermane Stiverne (TKO 6) and former world title challenger Bryant Jennings (UD 12). However, it was his measured win over Daniel Dubois (KO 10) that saw him claim the British and vacant European title that showed he has potential to be a threat on the world stage. He’s notably beaten experienced former title challenger Carlos Takam (TKO 6) and scored a career best win over former WBO titlist Joseph Parker (KO 11). He was primed for a title shot but while he waited his turn he was surprisingly derailed by Zhang, who twice stopped him (TKO 6/ KO 3).
THE FUTURE: Taking some time off after a second consecutive defeat at the hands of Zhang.
No. 9 FRANK SANCHEZ
RECORD: 23-0 (16 KOs)
THE PAST: Sanchez won the Cuban national championship in 2015 and turned professional in 2017. He scored a handful of wins before beating the usually durable Joey Dawejko (UD 10) and trial horse Nagy Aguilera (TKO 6). But it was his domination of fearsome Efe Ajagba (UD 10) that drew him most attention. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t been able to continue to build momentum from that win, though has remained somewhat active against middle of the road journeymen.
THE FUTURE: Can’t seem to land anything bigger than stay busy fights at the moment. Hopefully that changes soon.
No. 10 OTTO WALLIN
RECORD: 26–1 (14 KOs)
THE PAST: Wallin turned professional in 2013 and worked his way up on the European circuit. He dominated fellow Swede Adrian Granat (UD 12) before as a complete unknown he gave Fury (L UD 12) his most difficult fight to date, cutting the Brit, who later needed 47 stitches. He struggled to get fights of note over the next couple of years though did beat Dominic Breazeale (UD 12). He had been in line to face Dillian Whyte only for that fight to fall out at late notice much to his chagrin. The 32-year-old southpaw recently went to Turkey and outboxed former unified cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev (SD 12).
THE FUTURE: The Gassiev win was significant. Hopefully he can capitalize on that.
On the Cusp: Efe Ajagba, Martin Bakole, Daniel Dubois, Bakhodir Jalalov and Arslanbek Makhmudov
Andy Ruiz and Luis Ortiz were not considered due to inactivity
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Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].