Who are the next big things in boxing's heavyweight division?

Floyd Mayweather predicts Tyson Fury will soon be dethroned by a new heavyweight king… so who are the next big things? From a Croatian who sliced David Haye’s eyebrow open to the man bent on revenge against Anthony Joshua, meet the contenders

  • Tyson Fury and Anthyony Joshua reign supreme in the heavyweight division 
  • But Floyd Mayweather has tipped an unexpected new champion to emerge 
  • A Kazakh, a Croatian, a Cuban and a Russian are leading the next generation
  • There are also fighters from Britain and America ready to break through  

Tyson Fury unquestionably holds the keys to the heavyweight division after hammering Deontay Wilder into submission in devastating fashion last month. 

The self-styled Gypsy King captured the WBC world title and the Ring Magazine belt in his dismantling of Wilder and took his position as the rightful king of the giants.

Anthony Joshua, who holds four of the major belts, is the next major player while Wilder is still very much part of the heavyweight triumvirate.

Working quietly in the shadows below is a strong group of young up-and-comers and prodigious talents plotting their route to Fury and Joshua. 

Tyson Fury is boxing’s current heavyweight king. Anthony Joshua (right) holds more of the world championship belts but has lost one fight so is ranked just behind Fury

Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather has predicted this week that a new heavyweight icon will emerge from somewhere unexpected.

‘There’s going to be a heavyweight who is not from the UK and not from the US who is going to make a lot of noise. Everybody remember that, mark it down,’ he said.

Here are the next generation of heavyweights across the world set to make a splash in the next few years.

You’ll struggle to find a more game heavyweight than Adam Kownacki.

The 30-year-old has established a popular reputation Stateside for his toe-to-toe style but to brand him a slugger would be doing him a disservice. 

Kownacki is a pressure fighter and a very effective one at that. For someone almost as rotund as Andy Ruiz Jr, he is relentless and picks his shots well.

He doesn’t have explosive power but breaks his opponents down with sheer volume of punches. 

Adam Kownacki could be one of the next generation of fighters to rule at heavyweight

He was in a bit of a life-and-death fight with Charles Martin – the former IBF world champion who Anthony Joshua blasted out in two rounds – back in 2018 but has mostly been comfortable in his 20 victories.

Kownacki boasts a decent resume, and has the scalps of Martin, Artur Szpilka, Gerald Washington and Chris Arreola.

He has been slowly creeping up the rankings and is now on the cusp of the top 10. Although he’s 30 years old, Kownacki is definitely a heavyweight to keep an eye on. 

The Polish fighter is out against the well-respected Robert Helenius next and will move one step closer to title contention with victory.

Daniel Dubois

Probably one of the hottest prospects in boxing let alone just among the heavyweights, Daniel Dubois is next up on this list. 

Dubois may be limited in terms of experience but he has taken to the professional ranks like a duck to water.

The Londoner has already chalked up 14 victories and will face Olympic silver medallist Joe Joyce in a massive all-British showdown next month.

Britain’s Daniel Dubois knocked down Kyotaro Fujimoto last December and is a hot prospect

Win that – as most are predicting – and he will already be considered a serious contender in the heavyweight division.

Tyson Fury sparred with him in 2017 and anointed him ‘the future king of the heavyweight division’. How does that saying go? Oh yeah, greatness recognises greatness.

In just three years, Dubois has risen from southern area to fringe world level and has displayed frightening power along the way, 13 of his 14 opponents not hearing the final bell.

And at just 22, he is only going to get better and better.

Arslanbek Makhmudov 

Arslanbek Makhmudov is turning heads and for good reason.  

The Russian has knocked out all of his 10 opponents – including seven in the first round – and has only been taken beyond the third round on one occasion.

So it’s no surprise then that he’s quickly gaining traction as one of the most explosive punchers in the heavyweight division.

At 6ft 6in and 260 lbs Makhmudov is a physically imposing and intimidating figure. 

Arslanbek Makhmudov is a Russian KO specialist and a brawler of growing reputation

He is much more of a brawler than a boxer and at times is hard on the eye, but what he lacks in elegance he more than makes up for with brute strength. 

He is currently being trained by Marc Ramsay, who is probably best known for working with Jean Pascal.

Ramsay is convinced the 30-year-old is destined for the top but recently indicated that he’s journey is being mapped out carefully so it may be a few years yet before we see him in the ring with Fury or Joshua. 

Frank Sanchez 

Call this left-field if you want but you can’t have a list of prospects without including a Cuban!

Plus Frank Sanchez is a pretty handy fighter.

When we talk about a fighter’s capabilities we always go back to amateur pedigree and Sanchez has that in abundance coming through Cuba’s renowned amateur system. 

Sanchez was a Cuban national champion and finished his amateur career with a record of 214-6, including wins over Erislandy Savon, who suffered a narrow defeat to Anthony Joshua at the London Olympics in 2012.

Cuba’s Frank Sanchez could also emerge onto the big stage in the very near future

Since turning over, the 27-year-old has amassed 14 straight victories, 11 coming by way of knockout.

He faces the first big test of his professional career this weekend when he takes on American Joey Dawejko – not that he is expecting to fall short.

Asked about his chances of reaching the top last year, he said: ‘One hundred per cent I will. I have all the pedigree in the world to become a world champion.’

He’s a confident fellow then.

Efe Ajagba

Efe Ajagba is a 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and is unbeaten from 12 fights, registering 10 big knockouts.

At 6ft 6in and built like an Adonis, Ajagba is a physically daunting man with serious power in his hands, which more than compensates for his clumsiness and wildness.

The Nigerian had been tipped for a bright future but there are some reservations about him after he almost came off on the wrong end of a firefight with Iago Kiladze last time out. 

Efe Ajagba, from Nigeria, could fit Floyd Mayweather’s bill of a new heavyweight champion

The 25-year-old needs to make a few changes and be a bit more measured in his attacks as he won’t want to be exposed again like he was against Kiladze, who floored him heavily moments after being knocked down himself.

Ajagba still looks like a future world-level fighter in my book and it will be interesting to see him rise up the ranks over the next year or so.

He fights veteran and former world title challenger Razvan Cojanu next, which would be a good name to add to his record at this stage of his career. 

One to pay close attention to for sure. Blink and could miss it.  

Michael Hunter 

The American should be looking onwards and upwards but instead a bad decision has left him standing still.

Most, if not everyone who watched the fight believed Michael Hunter beat Alexander Povetkin in Saudi Arabia back in December.

But the judges deemed it a draw. It was very harsh but doesn’t change the fact that Hunter is still clearly a force to be reckoned with up at heavyweight.  

Michael Hunter is from the US, but Mayweather says the next best will come from elsewhere

The 31-year-old has taken some brave moves since moving up in weight but has proved his class with comfortable wins over Alexander Ustinov, Martin Bakole and Sergey Kuzmin. 

The only man to ever beat him in the professional ranks is Oleksandr Usyk when they were both cruiserweights and there’s no shame in that. 

Hunter is ranked in the top 10 with all the governing bodies bar the WBC – who have him in 11th – and could find himself in a position to fight for a world title with two decent victories this year.

Filip Hrgovic

The sky is the limit for Filip Hrgovic according to those closest to the Croatian.

The way he has started his professional career, it’s hard to disagree. 

Hrgovic has won all 10 of his fights and knocked out former world title challenger Eric Molina in just his ninth pro contest in his last outing.

The 27-year-old won all three of his fights last year by knockout and was nominated for the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) ‘Prospect of the Year’ award for 2019 – although Vergil Ortiz was named the eventual winner. 

Croatia is not known for producing champion boxers but Filip Hrgovic could change that

He is already highly-ranked by most and closing in on a position to challenge for a world title next year.

Hrgovic is relatively unknown on these shores but did once make a splash in the UK after he sliced David Haye’s eyebrow open during a sparring session in Vauxhall, causing his fight with Tyson Fury in 2013 to be postponed.

He is out again next month against Jerry Forrest, whose only defeats have come at the hands of Michael Hunter, Gerald Washington and Jermaine Franklin.

It will be a decent test but one Hrgovic should pass with flying colours.

Ivan Dychko 

Ivan Dychko is on a war path to Anthony Joshua. 

The Kazakhstan fighter’s journey to the top of the heavyweight ladder is being fuelled by revenge and a sense of injustice.

The two-time Olympic super-heavyweight bronze medallist has a contentious history with Joshua after he was on the losing end of a contentious decision in the semi-finals of the London 2012 Games.

Since turning over in 2017, Dychko has set his sights on righting the wrongs of that night and has knocked out all nine of his opponents.

Anthony Joshua beat Ivan Dychko at the London 2012 Olympics, and they could meet again

He even threw his name in the hat to fight Joshua last year, saying: ‘He knows he didn’t beat me then and he still can’t beat me.

‘He got a hometown decision and ended up winning my gold medal. Now is his chance to prove he deserved his success instead of it being handed to him. I’m here in great shape and ready to go.’ 

Dychko, who went 181-18 as an amateur, is confident he will eventually get his hands on Joshua and prove that he is the superior fighter.

He added: ‘He’s the same fighter he always was. He gets his world rocked in every fight. Then his little bit of power bails him out when his opponents get tired. I know exactly how to beat him. I already did.’

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