The World Boxing Super Series has helped resuscitate some of boxing’s most politicised divisions.
By aggregating some of the finest boxers in the world into a traditional knockout format – no pun intended – fans are guaranteed blockbuster clashes they might otherwise have missed out on.
We’ve already been treated to Oleksandr Usyk becoming undisputed cruiserweight champion, Callum Smith knocking George Groves in Saudi Arabia and countless other thrilling moments.
However, if fight fans could select any division for the next series of WBSS, you can guarantee that ‘heavyweight’ would be the most popular response and it isn’t difficult to understand why.
All the belts are currently on British shores with Anthony Joshua holding the WBA, WBO and IBF straps, whereas Tyson Fury is in possession of the WBC title and lineal status.
Chuck in one of the heaviest punchers to ever live in Deontay Wilder, absolute brawlers such as Andy Ruiz Jr and Dillian Whyte and many more for one of the hottest divisions in the sport.
And, yes, before you say it, we know that the politics of boxing would prevent all the top fighters from competing for the Ali Trophy, but let’s be positive for a moment and put on our tinfoil hats.
We’ve picked who we consider to be the top eight fighters in the division, seeded the top four and randomised their quarter-final opponents to draw up a tournament that’s the stuff of dreams.
How would it play out?
Not only would it finally result in an undisputed king of the heavyweights, but it would mandate clashes that fans have been demanding for years and it’s exciting just to think about.
So, context and permutations out of the way, we’ve provided our expert opinion on the potential match-ups to simulate exactly how a dream heavyweight WBSS series would play out:
Tyson Fury vs Andy Ruiz Jr
Result: Fury wins by unanimous decision
Oh mama, just imagine this bout. Ruiz would try and wiggle his way under Fury’s rangy jab, staying low and working the body in short flashes, but his larger opponent would ultimately control the distance.
There are definitely chinks in Ruiz’s defence armour, so you can expect Fury to have a field day landing his jab and bullying him back on to the ropes with combinations in brief flurries.
The ‘Gypsy King’ might take some punishment of his own, perhaps sustaining a cut as he did against Otto Wallin, but his fight IQ would lead to a comfortable points decision in the region of 116-112.
Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk
Result: Usyk wins by unanimous decision
Ah yes, our controversial choice. Usyk is Joshua’s WBO mandatory in real life, so you can expect this bout to take place eventually and we feel confident that it will result in a changing of the guard.
It remains to be seen whether Usyk can stomach the punches of a bona fide heavyweight, but his boxing skills are such that Joshua’s offensive bursts would be met with forearms and thin air.
Don’t expect Usyk to cause much damage, rather ducking in and out for scoring punches, although that should be sufficient to win at least seven rounds against Joshua, who would ultimately get sloppy amidst frustration.
Deontay Wilder vs Alexander Povetkin
Result: Wilder wins by fifth-round knockout
Now this is a tear up we wished had happened back in 2016. By contrast, a modern day bout would be nowhere near as competitive and I think everyone is on the same page about the result here.
Povetkin would make himself busy in the early rounds, finding a home for his left hook and hoovering up a smattering of 10-9’s on the scorecard, but with tiredness and fatigue comes lapses in concentration.
Wilder is a master at waiting for the right opportunity to detonate the TNT in his right glove and Povetkin’s chin isn’t what it used to be, so expect the first knockdown – which we predict will come pretty early – to end the fight pronto.
Dillian Whyte vs Luis Ortiz
Result: Whyte wins by tenth-round technical knockout
The weakest of the floor quarter-finals – blame the randomiser – and we’d even wager that Ortiz is probably the worst fighter in the pack, so Whyte should progress to the final four without much difficulty.
Whyte’s rugged style would make this thoroughly entertaining in the early exchanges and ‘King Kong’ would land some crafty counters, but don’t expect the Cuban to bag himself more than two or three rounds.
In the end, the fatigue that Ortiz showed against Christian Hammer and Travis Kauffman will rear its head and allow Whyte to bag himself an accumulate stoppage in the championship rounds.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Deontay Wilder
Result: Usyk wins by unanimous decision
What a strange, strange fight this would be. We like to think of this bout as a man with the world’s largest artillery cannon trying to shoot a fast-moving, tiny peasant from five miles away.
Usyk would be prodding his jab in Wilder’s face all night long, while also committing to a few flurries on the front foot with straight right hands to expose his opponent’s poor balance.
There’d be no major weight disadvantage for Usyk to be dealing with here, either, even if you shouldn’t rule out a knockdown for the former cruiserweight, but we think the winner is pretty clear.
You can expect the cards to rule a landslide victory – surely Wilder wouldn’t win more than two rounds? – and the American would likely receive the news in poor taste.
Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte
Result: Fury wins by unanimous decision
If any fighter is brazen and gung-ho enough to really stick it on Fury, then Whyte is your man and you can expect the brawling WBC mandatory to fly out the blocks with some high-volume rounds.
Again, Fury would probably swallow a lot more punches than you’d expect him to, although he’s more than crafty enough to take any bombs on the chin and would gradually feel his way into the fight.
We’d expect the cards to be pretty level, perhaps even favouring Whyte, at the halfway stage, but Fury would really come into his own during the second half and start picking away at his compatriot with bursts of energy.
And although Whyte would hold on like the absolute warrior he is, we predict that he would be rocked on multiple occasions late on and see the judge’s scorecards turn in Fury’s favour.
Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk
Result: Fury wins by 11th-round technical knockout
Now this, ladies and gentlemen, would be a boxing masterclass for the ages.
Fury and Usyk are far and away the most technical fighters in the division, so much so that this is arguably the only match-up for the former where, on his day, he couldn’t be sure of boxing to a decision.
Rather, we think Fury would get more frustrated than we’ve ever seen him in the pro game, likely having more offensive success than Usyk, but falling short in the majority of the first seven rounds.
Such a competitive fight, in our opinion, would see the Fury camp switch to the tactics they used for the Wilder rematch and the vast size difference between the fighters would start to take effect.
You can accept plenty of clinches and grabbing from Fury to tire Usyk late on, taking some of the sheen off his slick defence and opening windows for the big, clubbing overhand right.
We’re sticking our necks out here by saying that Fury would be able to wear him down enough with his physical advantages to land a sufficient amount of punches for the referee to step in and declare a knockdown-less TKO.
Who is your No.1 heavyweight?
If you think we’re being harsh on Joshua here, that’s really not the case, it just happens that drawing Usyk in the quarter-finals would have been game over for most fighters.
Sure, the Ukrainian looked out of sorts on his heavyweight bow against Chazz Witherspoon, but he still has more boxing ability than everyone in the division outside of our choice for number one.
Fury is the only fighter who has the tools to untangle Usyk’s boxing prowess and would use his size advantages to draw a stoppage in the later rounds, slowly chopping down the tree until it toppled.
But taking the randomised fixtures aside, our heavyweight rankings would read as follows in descending order: Fury, Usyk, Joshua, Wilder, Whyte, Ruiz Jr, Povetkin and Ortiz.
Hopefully, when the coronavirus pandemic has passed, fight fans will be able to kick back to some of these blockbuster heavyweight clashes, albeit not in the tournament format we’d all love.
Besides, boxing is boxing and any heavyweight title bout of note is worth treasuring.
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