The last few years of heavyweight boxing have been worlds apart from the dreaded Klitschko era that preceded it, where brothers Wladimir and Vitali held the titles hostage, turning over prospect after prospect with relative ease. This monumental shift can only be attributed to the masses of world level competitors with world championship potential. Now, we are looking at a heavyweight landscape where most within the Ring Magazines rankings could snatch a world title at any given time. So with that in mind, what will become of the next heavyweight boxing era? Will we see more of the same or is it the case of a declining peak?
In order for an era to be defined as truly golden it requires a fresh batch of talented divisional hopefuls. Luckily for boxing fans, there are plenty of them and that’s what we intend to discuss today. The criteria for this list will not be limited by age, but rather the quantity of fights and the level of opposition they have faced. All of the boxers on this list will be within the fifteen fight bracket and will not have taken the step up to world level as of yet.
So here we go, MyMMANews’ ‘Top Five Heavyweight Boxing Prospects’. Let’s get down to business.
5. Justis Huni
The first man to make our list is undefeated Aussie, Justis Huni. A bronze medalist at the 2019 world championships and gold medalist at the 2016 youth world championships, Huni has the amateur credentials to suggest a promising professional career. At 5-0 (4 ko’s) Huni is very much in the infant stages of his professional career and is expected to dip back into the amateurs temporarily to fulfill his Olympic dreams. In his last outing he dominated NRL star Paul Gallen who two months earlier had beaten former WBA regular champion Lucas Browne. The Gallen fight showed us that Huni, despite being only twenty two years old, isn’t going to be phased by the big occasions. Showing poise and composure far beyond his years, Huni put on a boxing clinic, not rushing his work, taking his time and showing off the slick defensive skills that have allowed him to be so successful as an amateur. In Huni you have the complete package, good punching power, fast hands and layered defense. Once he returns back to the pro ranks, expect him to make a big impact.
4. Jared Anderson
Next up it’s rising American star, Jared Anderson. Hailing from Toledo, Ohio and sporting a rather impressive 9-0 record with nine wins coming by way of knockout, it’s no surprise American boxing fans are banking on Anderson to make it to the big time. Anderson is a power puncher of the highest order, but isn’t limited to just one devastating shot. Whether it’s a stone cold knockout from a short left hook against Kingsley Ibeh, or a sweeping right hand to the body of Jeremiah Karpency, Anderson has power in every shot and picks them well. Despite almost entirely throwing power shots, a consistent fifty percent plus landing average means that Anderson rarely leaves himself open to a counter, even when throwing with maximal intensity. At this present moment, the vast majority of his opponents have been middling away fighters. Anderson will need to step up in competition in order to learn more about the intangibles facing ‘Big Baby’. Only through true competitive adversity will we learn about the character of Anderson and his ability to make the correct adjustments. That being said, at just twenty one years old, there is no need to rush Jared Anderson.
3. Bakhodir Jalolov
At number three, it’s Bakhodir Jalolov. A product of the excellent Uzbekistan amateur boxing program, Jalolov is a three time Asian championship gold medalist and 2019 world championship gold medalist. Standing at six feet seven inches tall and weighing in excess of two hundred and fifty pounds, his size alone is a problem in itself. Add to that his southpaw stance, elusive footwork and devastating straight left and there lies an awkward challenge for any man. Since making his professional debut in 2018, Jalolov has switched back and forth between the amateurs and pros, recently qualifying for a place at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics with a win over number five on our list, Justis Huni. As a professional the story has been much the same, the big Uzbek is currently 8-0 (8 ko’s) and has steam rolled past every opponent put in front of him. His most recent outing came in April 2021 where he dispatched of popular Lativan heavyweight Kristaps Zutis, this is expected to be his last professional bout until the Olympic games, after that we should see Jalolov focusing more on the professional ranks.
2. Tony Yoka
For Tony Yoka, being second best is an exceptionally rare occurrence, unfortunately he’ll have to accept the runner-up spot on our list. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist and 2015 world championship gold medalist is the most impressive amateur ranked here and currently holds the best professional résumé also. Victories over Christian Hammer, Alexander Dimitrenko and Johann Duhaupas are all good litmus tests and suggest Yoka is ready for world level opposition. It goes without saying that Yoka is an excellent boxer with solid fundamentals but his athleticism is just as impressive. Blistering hand speed, devastating punching power and an imposing six foot six frame with an eighty two inch reach, this is the genetic makeup of a future world champion. Unfortunately, Yoka’s profile has been hampered by his choice to start out his career in France rather than the United States or United Kingdom. In many ways he has become the forgotten man in the heavyweight division and at 29 years old needs to push on with his career in order to fulfill his lofty expectations. That being said, you’d be to ignorant not see the star potential in Tony Yoka.
1. Filip Hrgovic
Our number one pick for boxing’s top heavyweight prospect is Filip Hrgovic. Hrgovic became public knowledge in 2013 for being the man credited for the cancellation of David Haye vs Tyson Fury, after cutting Haye in a sparring session. Three years later he would pick up a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics, before turning over as a professional in the summer of 2017. The Croatians record currently stands at 12-0 (10 ko’s) with notable victories over Eric Molina and Kevin Johnson. The Molina fight in particular was presented as a potential banana skin, a banana skin that Hrgovic overcame comfortably, pulverizing the two time world title challenger. It’s hard to overestimate just how good Filip Hrgovic truly is. Off the eye test alone he looks every bit ready to take the heavyweight division by storm. Comfortable at all ranges, defensively sound and with the tenacious finishing instincts of any great champion, Filip Hrgovic is not one to be taken lightly. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for him to face the upper echelons of competition after the Michael Hunter fight fell through earlier this year, but expect Hrgovic to face genuine world level opposition in 2021.
George Glinski is the founder of popular bare-knuckle boxing blog toethelinebkb.com and works as a staff writer and post-fight interviewer for BKBtm. His contributions to mymmanews.com include MMA, boxing, bare-knuckle boxing and Lethwei, with a particular focus on the British scenes.