The Men who would be King… who will be the next to challenge Wladimir?

With Wladimir Klitschko’s domination of Alexander Povetkin now in the books, thoughts now turn to who will now challenge the Ukrainian giant. In my mind Wladimir has taken the mantle from his older brother of being the best heavyweight in the world but there are still a number of contenders who think they can be the man to upset the odds. Below we look at several of boxers looking to face Wladimir next.


Kubrat Pulev

Age: 32

Record: 18(9)-0

Current Titles: IBF International Heavyweightpulev

Why it might be him?

A highly ranked contender, Pulev has been matched hard since starting his professional career and is relatively well known in Germany. RING view him as the third best heavyweight on the planet but most importantly he’s ranked number one by the IBF and recently beat Tony Thompson to become their mandatory contender. As Wladimir holds that belt if he wants to keep it he has to face Pulev.

Will it be him?

Quite possibly; Wladimir is unlikely to want to give up his belt without a fight.

What sort of boxer is he?

A well schooled boxer with a long amateur background, Pulev tends to rely on mobility to win bouts. He keeps up a relatively high workrate behind a jab that occasionally paws but sometimes really snaps out, following that with accurate uppercuts and hooks. Not a natural counter puncher he tends to become somewhat ragged in exchanges and on the inside he looks to clinch. Not a particularly big puncher the stoppages he has managed tend to come from an accumulation of punishment. Defensively he relies on his footspeed to carry him out of range but if an opponent can track him down he’s fairly open. His two most recent bouts arguably showed the best and worst of him… the best in a late stoppage of man-mountain Ustinov and the worst in the sloppy decision over Thompson.

Does he stand a chance?

I don’t think so. Wladimir’s accurate jab and right hand would beat him on the outside; he’s not mobile enough to avoid them completely and his defence is too open to block them. If he does step into range then Wlad will be able to clinch with him and Pulev lacks the inside-work or the one-punch power to keep Wlad honest.

Tyson Fury

Age: 25

Record: 21(15)-0

Current Titles: None Tyson-Fury-1847086.png

Why it might be him?

Fury is a well known boxer, even if his infamy comes more from his mouth (and twitter account) than his skills. Highly ranked by several of the sanctioning bodies if he were to beat David Haye in their upcoming bout both his ranking and infamy would rise even higher. In a division where fans often complain about the relative annoymity of the contenders he’s one of the most well known (if not always for the right reasons) and would bring interest from the UK and even the US to the bout (although I imagine many would be watching in the hope he gets knocked out)

 Will it be him?

Maybe. He needs to get through Haye first (a bout I think he loses), but if he can win that and win it well he becomes an intruiging and legitimate challenger.

What sort of boxer is he?

Originally a pretty straight-ahead brawler relying on size, physical strength and bodywork over recent bouts Fury had evolved to become more well-rounded. He’s started to use his size from the outside with a heavy jab and a strong right hand and while defensively he’s shown repeated flaws (notably an inability to protect his chin from right hands) for at least some bouts he’s managed to keep his defence fairly tight. A pretty powerful puncher, his blows having a clubbing force behind them that can wear opponents down even if they don’t land cleanly. For an example of a disciplined Fury sticking to a gameplan and boxing sensibly one could watch his decision win over Kevin Johnson while for a more wild Fury who throws technique out the window but gets the job done through guts and determination watch his entertaining but sloppy brawl with Steve Cunningham.

Does he stand a chance?

A better one than people think. On the outside Wladimir would pick him apart; despite his improvements Fury is still too poor defensively and slow with his jab to do much. But Fury is a strong inside fighter, one of the few who can match Wladimir in size and he knows how to use his weight well when the distance closes. Wladimir would likely find less success trying to grapple with Fury than he would with a smaller boxer and Fury would take the opportunity to hammer punches into Wladimir’s exposed body. If Fury can get inside with any regularity he could cause Wladimir some real problems.

Of course, having a better chance than people think when most people think Fury would be knocked out with ease doesn’t necessarily mean he has a good chance. He’d be a massive underdog… and deservedly so.

Robert Helenius

Age: 29

Record: 19(11)-0

Current Titles: NoneRobert_Helenius

Why it might be him?

Helenius is an undefeated contender who not so very long ago was being hailed as perhaps the man to upset the Klitschko hegemony at the top of the heavyweight division. Ranked highly by several of the sanctioning bodies he brings a little intruige to the bout.

Will it be him?

Somewhat unlikely. After injuries sustained in his narrow and controversial decision win over Dereck Chisora Helenius took some time off from boxing and since his return has been distinctly underwhelming agaisnt pretty average opposition. The hype he once had from stoppages of Samuel Peter and Siarhei Liakhovich has already started to fade away.

What sort of boxer is he?

A cautious but technical boxer, Helenius generally works at a low intensity, waiting for an opponent to make a mistake before punishing it. Prior to seeing such a mistake he tends to simply focus on throwing jabs to the head and body; it’s a sharp jab but not particularly powerful. An example of this is his bout with European contender Atilla Levin; after a quiet first round which Helenius arguably lost due to Levin’s greater workrate the same seemed to happen in the second before Levin made one mistake, Helenius dropped him hard and finished him shortly after. When he does start to throw punches Helenius is powerful and accurate, primarily with a straight right, but they are often few and far between unless an opponent is already hurt.

The problem for Helenius comes when an opponent doesn’t leave such obvious gaps in his defence. He was able to beat long time gatekeeper Michael Sprott behind his jab in his last bout for example but rarely got much offence going outside of that and in his bout with Chisora he struggled immensely when Chisora upped the pace.

Does he stand a chance?

Not really. Trying to outjab Wladimir is a fool’s errand and while Helenius’s size may cause Wladimir a few problems Helenius doesn’t really use his size well outside of his reach. While he has the chance of landing a strong counter shot it’s hard to see any matchup not ending with Helenius stuck on the ropes eating jabs and right hands.

Dereck Chisora

Age: 29

Record: 18(12)-4(1)

Current Titles: EBU (European) Heavyweight chisora

Why it might be him?

The controversial and seemingly unstable Chisora looked like his career might be in danger following his loss to Vitali, his antics before and after the bout and his knockout loss to David Haye. Since then however he’s recovered with two decent wins over American contender Malik Scott and German hopeful Edmund Gerber which can be seen here and here to get his career back on track. More than that, his antics weren’t limited to Vitali with Wladimir also having water spat in his face and there being a possible nightclub brawl between the two.

Will it be him?

Possibly. The two recent wins have given some legitimacy to Chisora inside the ring and I think you only have to see Wladimir’s face after Chisora spat water at him to know he really wanted to punch Chisora hard. A match between the two would allow him to do so… and revenge is a powerful motivator.

What sort of boxer is he?

Chisora is primarily a pressure fighter, looking to get inside and brawl with opponents, breaking them down with hard punches to the head and body. On the outside Chisora offers little offensively but he has a tight guard and strong chin while bobbing and weaving his way inside. Once he does get inside he throws powerful hooks and can maul fairly well. Hard to discourage or keep away he grinds opponents down over a number of rounds.

Does he stand a chance?

Unlikely. Chisora already tried his hand at one Klitschko and while he gave Vitali a better bout than most he still handily lost most of the rounds. While Wladimir and Vitali aren’t identical they both have roughly similar styles with Wladimir now being the quicker, more skilled and I’d argue better of the two. Chisora wouldn’t give in and would keep it competative but I can’t see him finding any sustained success against Wladimir… and Chisora needs sustained success to win.

Odlanier Solis

Age: 33

Record: 20(13)-1(1)

Current Titles: IBF Inter-Continental heavyweight

BOXING: Odlanier Solis vs Monte Barrett

Why might it be him?

Arguably the most naturally talented heavyweight of our era that and Solis’ excellent amateur credentials give him a certain “X Factor”. We just don’t know how good he could be and if he ever performs to his potential he may be one of the few men with a legitimate chance to beat Wladimir. His bout with Vitali may have ended in the first round due to a fluke knee injury but he was doing well in the brief time we saw him.

Will it be him?

Unlikely. Since that loss to Vitali, Solis has been content to feast both inside the ring against overmatched opponents and outside it as his weight continues to stray north. He simply hasn’t shown any ambition and lacks a large fanbase or serious promotional strength.

What sort of boxer is he?

Solis’ class oozes through everything he does. Stylistically he’s probably the slightly oxymoronic aggressive counter-puncher, stalking opponents with pressure and single shots, setting traps with his angles and looking to counter when the opponent does come forward. He’s powerful, accurate, puts combinations together well and has fast hands. One of his main issues is his tendency to set a slow pace and keep up a low workate which is almost certainly a result of his weight. Having spent most his amateur career at around 200lbs, he’s gorged himself on both freedom and cheeseburgers since leaving Cuba and has weighed as much as 271lbs and tends to box at 250lbs or so. All of this can be seen in his last win, a somewhat by-the-numbers stoppage of Yakup Saglam. The fact that he’s as good as he is while 20-30lbs above his best fighting weight shows quite how talented he could be.

Does he stand a chance?

I don’t know. That’s how much potential Solis has and how badly he’s wasting it. If he can knuckle down and get his weight down to 240lbs… or even 230lbs… his sheer talent means he’s a real risk for any boxer including Wladimir. If he keeps weighing in at 250lbs or more it’s harder to see but even so his talent gives him a chance.

Bryant Jennings

Age: 29

Record: 19(9)-0

Current Titles: None


Why might it be him?

With Wladimir’s last bout being on HBO there’s an outside chance that the US TV Networks get some interest in televising his bouts. Jennings is probably the most established of the US contenders and has been getting some very solid ratings on NBC for his bouts. A bout between Wladimir and Jennings on network TV in the US is a very nice carrot.

Will it be him?

Almost certainly not. Jenning may be the most established of the US boxers but he’s not a particularly big name and he lacks promotional power.

What style of boxer is he?

A powerful athlete Jennings throws fast and hard punches, notably hooks, in combination but technically he’s pretty limited. If an opponent can stand up to his punches he’s show stamina issues in the past and has had to grit his way through bouts. The good and the bad of him can be seen in his most recent bout with Andrey Fedosov.

Does he stand a chance?

No. He offers little that Wladimir hasn’t seen before, lacks the offence to trouble him or the defence to prevent Wladimir picking him apart.


Bermane Stiverne

Age: 34

Record: 23(20)-1(0)

Current Titles: WBC Silver Heavyweight


Why it might be him?

Coming off an impressive win over Chris Arreola, Stiverne is well ranked by the various bodies, has a slightl amount of hype and he brings a way into the lucrative Canadian market.

Will it be him?

Almost certainly not. His win over Arreola made him the number one contender for the WBC Title currently held by Vitali Klitschko and I can’t imagine him giving up an opportunity at that for a crack at Wladimir.

What sort of boxer is he?

Originally a crude but powerful slugger, Stiverne’s added a little more craft to his game in recent years and in the above bout of Arreola put on the best performance of his career showed a solid jab, good bodywork and decent conditioning. Not particularly fast of hand or foot and despite the improvements still somewhat awkward his calling card is still his power.

Does he stand a chance?

No. Outside of a lucky punch he’s still too one-dimensional and defensively weak to cause Wladimir any issues.


Honourable Mentions:

David Haye: Has to beat Fury first, original bout with Wladimir too recent and one-sided.

Deontay Wilder: Is still being protected by his promoter. Wladimir would be too big a step up.

Ruslan Chagaev: First bout was too one-sided, recent form isn’t impressive enough.

Marco Huck: Outside chance of happening at the best of times, still has business at 200lbs.

Chris Arreola: Lost to Stiverne recently.

Magomed Abdusalamov: Still needs more time to develop.

Luis Ortiz: Poor recent opposition

Denis Boytsov: Team are moving him very slowly, unlikely to risk a Wladimir bout.


One thought on “The Men who would be King… who will be the next to challenge Wladimir?

  1. Pingback: British Boxing tidbits: Chisora vs Price and Frank Maloney retires | Slip the Jab

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