The heavyweight division is once again attracting boxing fans with potential mega fights this year. One of those potential fights is a fight between two former champions, Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr., but will that fight bear fruit, or is the boxing business getting in the way of a big fight – again?
Another heavyweight, Jared Anderson, headlined the home event in Toledo, Ohio last weekend against former champion Charles Martin. And while “Big Baby” Anderson won a unanimous decision, is he ready for the division’s top heavyweights?
In the super middleweight division, division king Canelo Alvarez returns in September against undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo, who is looking to move up two divisions for the chance. Can he make a splash against Alvarez?
And at junior welterweight, Teofimo Lopez Jr. said he was retiring after his impressive win over Josh Taylor. Did we see his last appearance in the ring? And there seems to be a renaissance in Britain, where half a dozen fighters are causing a stir in their respective divisions. Who is the most talented fighter in the UK right now?
Mike Coppinger, Ben Baby and Nick Parkinson answer these questions and try to distinguish what is real and what is not.
Real or not: Andy Ruiz Jr. will be Deontay Wilder’s next opponent
Not really. Ruiz’ father, Andy Ruiz Sr., told ESPN last week that the former heavyweight champion will not fight Deontay Wilder unless he backs off his 70-30 claim and agrees to a 50-50 split .
Wilder has said Ruiz doesn’t deserve parity so this fight doesn’t seem likely given the huge difference here. Ruiz Sr said the fight on even financial terms was a deal breaker for his son, who is himself a star boxer and scored a TKO victory over Anthony Joshua in 2019 to win three world heavyweight titles.
Neither Wilder nor Ruiz currently hold a title, but the duel would be explosive and would involve two big-name heavyweights with tremendous punch. Wilder is the biggest puncher in all of boxing, but Ruiz is also a feared puncher.
Ruiz beat Luis Ortiz three times in September in a unanimous victory and has shown countless times that he possesses one of the best chins in boxing. The Wilder vs Ruiz fight has been the subject of ongoing debate for over a year and if it comes to fruition it would be one of the most anticipated events on the 2023 calendar.
It would be a shame if the fight didn’t go ahead, especially as Wilder turns 38 later this year. But Wilder seems to have bigger problems as he continues his talks over a possible superfight against Joshua in December in Saudi Arabia. — Copper
Real or not, Jermell Charlo is set to cause a big upset against Canelo Alvarez
Not real, and get real! While Charlo was idle and gathering dust, Canelo has regained some shine last year after a decision loss to Dmitry Bivol at light heavyweight. Most importantly, Charlo moves up two weight classes to take on the undisputed world super middleweight champion.
The announcement that Jermell – and not his brother Jermall – will face Canelo stunned the boxing world as Jermell seizes the opportunity rather than accepting a lesser challenge to defend his undisputed junior middleweight title.
Jermell Charlo, 33, has not boxed since he stopped Brian Castano in May last year in a rematch that came ten months after a tie in the first fight, which many thought Castano had won. It was a shame not to see the talented Jermell again, but he broke his left hand in December 2022 while preparing for January’s scheduled fight against Australia’s Tim Tszyu. Charlo vs. Tszyu seemed like a logical next step for the Texan this year, a fight where he would be the betting favorite despite the dismissal and Tszyu’s progress.
Charlo will need to cause a big upset to beat Canelo, who is now back on form after surpassing John Ryder in May and Gennadiy Golovkin in September 2022.
With those two wins, Canelo disproved the theory that he was in decline after losing to Bivol just over a year ago. Not only is Canelo in shape, he has been active and will be in his natural weight class at super middleweight. Charlo goes into the fight after inactivity and injury, moving up in two weight classes.
It’s just too much to seriously expect Charlo to pull it off. — Parkinson’s
Real or not, Teofimo Lopez Jr. will fight again this year
Teofimo is not impressed by a possible fight against Haney
Teofimo Lopez explains why a fight against Devin Haney wouldn’t be enough to pull him out of retirement.
Not really. It’s possible Lopez won’t compete a second time in 2023, having requested his retirement after his impressive win over Taylor last month and secured the WBO and lineal junior welterweight titles.
But it would be a huge surprise if Lopez doesn’t return to the ring in the first half of 2024, if not sooner. Leading up to the Taylor fight and after the win, Lopez kept saying that his next court fight would be for custody of his son while he pursued divorce proceedings.
Once Lopez has his personal affairs sorted out, he will undoubtedly come back to capitalize on his crucial win over Taylor after beating Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020.
The biggest match for Lopez is undoubtedly a fight with Devin Haney, the undisputed lightweight champion who is looking to move up to junior welterweight in the near future. But it may have to wait while Lopez takes some time off the ring.
But is Lopez retired? Absolutely not. He tweeted over the weekend about sparring against Floyd Mayweather and he’s only 25 and there are millions and millions still to be made. And he still owns his WBO junior welterweight title, too. — Copper
Real or not: Jared Anderson isn’t ready for the top 5 heavyweights
Jared Anderson fends off Charles Martin in heavyweight fight
Jared Anderson holds his unbeaten record after fending off Charles Martin via unanimous decision.
Real. However, that’s not a bad thing. As good as Anderson looked as a contender, his win on Saturday over former heavyweight champion Martin showed that climbing the contender ladder isn’t easy. Despite being a big favorite and appearing dominant at times, Anderson was forced to pick up a unanimous decision win.
He appeared to have injured himself on the fifth lap and in the closing seconds of the final lap when his legs gave out before the bell rang in Toledo. Martin winked at Anderson as if to imply he’d given the 23-year-old an educational moment.
After being shaken early on, Martin Anderson marked when he pulled straight back, which is considered a major taboo among those who have solid defense. The late 10th-round lull could have posed a major risk to the momentum Anderson has built in his career.
Anderson still has a few things to work on before he takes on a top five heavyweight. While there is a clear distinction between the champions (Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk) and everyone else (Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz Jr.), the second division heavyweights have all been true champions at some point in recent years.
But Anderson is certainly ready to take on someone in the next league. How about a matchup against Filip Hrgovic? The undefeated Croatian has not fought since August 2022 when he defeated Zhilei Zhang. At 31, Hrgovic needs to get his career going. This is a great non-title fight and the kind of fight that doesn’t come often in boxing. — Infant
Real or not, Sunny Edwards is the most talented British fighter right now
Real. Judging on talent alone, IBF World Flyweight Champion Edwards has skill, quick hands, flashy footwork and ring intelligence that combine to surpass the skills of heavyweight Tyson Fury, light heavyweight Callum Smith and junior welterweight Jack Catterall are , junior lightweight Joe Cordina and featherweight Leigh Wood, all of whom are in the top three of their respective weight classes according to ESPN.
Edwards (20-0, 4 KOs) was disappointing in his last decider against Andres Campos on June 10, but perhaps he was being cautious or was blown away by a scheduled unification title fight against American Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, the WBO champion , distracted for the end of the year.
Edwards has already presented enough evidence in previous fights to convincingly claim to be the UK’s most skilled boxer – yet he remains unknown outside of boxing fans there.
But talent notwithstanding, Edwards is not the UK’s No. 1 fighter. Despite inactivity and disappointment that Tyson Fury is not seeing any progress in boxing Oleksandr Usyk in an undisputed heavyweight title bout against Oleksandr Usyk, Fury is still No. 1 and a talented boxer himself. Fury is the only British fighter to finish first in his respective division and in the latest pound for pound rankings (No.8).
One thing Edwards’ record lacks is knockouts, unlike Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), a former super middleweight champion who faced a difficult task on August 19 against knockout machine Artur Beterbiev for three world titles stands. Smith will be his underdog, but he has been destructive in both his fights since moving up a division after a decision loss to Canelo Alvarez two and a half years ago. If Smith produces something special against Beterbiev, he could take the top spot on this list.
Cordina and Wood have won world titles in their most recent fights but need to do more to eclipse Edwards and Fury on the basis of skill alone. Flyweight Galal Yafai, a 2021 Olympic gold medalist, and Adam Azim are early in their careers but have undeniable talent and could one day be considered Britain’s most talented boxers. — Parkinson’s