Tuesday, 17 July 2012 19:20

David Haye, Kubrat Pulev Surge | Heavyweight Boxing Rankings - July 2012

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Like him or not, the heavyweight division is far more exciting with David Haye unretired.

David Haye
In front of a maximum capacity crowd at Upton Park in London, England, two division world champion David Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) did something no other fighter has done, including Tyson Fury, Robert Helenius and Vitali Klitschko... He dominated and knocked out an incredibly tough, very hungry Dereck Chisora (15-4, 9 KOs).

Despite coming back from a year long lay-off, the 31 year old fighter from London, England orchestrated perhaps his most impressive performance to date.

Haye came under intense scrutiny a year ago after dropping a lopsided decision to Wladimir Klitschko in the now infamous broken toe incident but is hoping to challenge Wlad's brother, Vitali, for the latter's WBC belt.

Vitali had been obsessed with fighting Haye ever since his brother defeated the Brit in July. And after defeating Tomasz Adamek in September, Vitali called out Haye yet again. 

A bout involving the two popular fighters, such as Vitali Klitschko and the charismatic David Haye, who have a well-publicized, long-standing vendettas against each other usually generates added interest and high money. And revenue-wise, Vitali Klitschko vs David Haye is still probably the biggest fight in the heavyweight division (unless the Klitschko brothers agreed to fight each other).

However, according to the manager of the 41 year old two-time heavyweight champion, Vitali has set his sights on Kiev's mayoral position and hopes to focus more on the worsening situation in his native Ukraine following his September title defense against Manuel Charr.

Despite his pathetic and perhaps injured-plagued performance against Wladimir last summer, David Haye is a very dangerous fighter who matches up better, stylistically, with Vitali than Wlad. Unlike his tentative younger brother, Vitali is an aggressive fighter who often engages his opponents. And as a result, the slower, less mobile older brother is less defensive.

Simply put, Vitali, the obvious favorite, would be more vulnerable than Wlad, giving Haye more opportunities to land his signature "Hayemakers."

In a seemingly weak heavyweight division, David Haye's speed, awkward fighting style and explosiveness make him a formidable threat to anyone when he's healthy.

And from a marketability standpoint, David Haye is arguably the most exciting heavyweight in the ring since Mike Tyson and the most colorful and controversial outside it.

Kubrat Pulev
Unknown to many outside of his native Bulgaria, Kubrat Pulev (16-0, 8 KO) is the current European (EEU) Heavyweight Champion and has already defeated a fair number of quality fighters including Alexander Dimitrenko, Michael Sprott, Travis Walker, Dominick Guinn and Matt Skelton.

Don't be fooled by his record. Although he's had only 16 pro fights Pulez has a strong amateur pedigree and frequently medaled at international tournaments. And in addition to winning the gold medal in the super heavyweight division at the 2008 European Championships, Pulev represented Bulgaria as a super heavyweight at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

On May 5th, the 6′ 4½″/ 194 cm Pulev knocked out then Top 10 Heavyweight Alexander Dimitrenko (then 32-1) in an entertaining dust-up, winning the EBU European heavyweight title. 

The 31 year old Pulev started slowly against the 6"7" Dimitrenko who used his reach advantage to work behind a stiff left jab and rip Pulev with a few sweet body shots to win the first two rounds.

However, the tide would soon change as the Bulgarian found his range and began to unleash bombs that jolted Dimitrenko. A hard right hand by Pulev cut Dimitrenko near his left eye in round six, and from that point on it Pulev dominated his bigger foe.  

The end came in Round 11. A thudding right hand from Pulev shook Dimitrenko early before a well-timed jab floored him. Thoroughly beaten, Alex had no intention beating the ten count.

Is Kubrat Pulev a force to be reconked with in the heavyweight division. Early indications say, 'yes.'

FightSaga Heavyweight Rankings, July 17, 2012

CHAMPION - Wladimir Klitschko
Titles: THE RING, IBF, WBA Super, WBO and IBO
58-3-0 (51 KOs)
Last Fight: TKO 6 Tony Thompson, Jul 14
RING Magazine: Champion

Often tentative and overly-cautious, many of Wlad's bouts tend to resemble chess matches more than heavyweight fights. If Wlad was as tenacious in the past as he was against Tony Thompson earlier this month, he'd undoubtedly be as popular as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Let's hope we'll see more of the seemingly new and improved, more intense Wladimir Klitschko.  

1. Vitali Klitschko
Title: WBC
44-2-0 (40 KOs)
Title: WBC
Last Fight:UD 12 Dereck Chisora, Feb 18
Next Fight: Manuel Charr, Sep 8

Dereck Chisora gave the elder Klitschko his stiffest challenge since Lennox Lewis in 2003 but Vitali overcame a shoulder injury and ultimately rose to the occasion, winning on points in an exciting affair. Vitali vs Haye would be nice but the Ukrainian will likely run for mayor of Kiev following his September bout with Manuel Charr.

2. David Haye
United Kingdom
26-2 (24 KOs)
Last Fight: TKO 5 Dereck Chisora, Jul 14

Haye is ranked No. 2 because he's 5-1, 4 KOs as a heavyweight, went the distance with the division's best and has been more impressive against better opposition than any other heavyweight sans the Klitschkos. 

3.Alexander Povetkin
24-0-0 (16 KOs)
Last Fight: SD 12 Marco Huck, Feb 25

Povetkin looked sluggish and was arguably given a "gift" decision earlier this year against Marco Huck, a cruiserweight who is arguably No. 3 in that division behind Hernandez and Lebedev. Nevertheless, given Povetkin's undefeated status and decision wins over Eddie Chambers and former titleholder Ruslan Chagaev, Alex deserves to be in the top five.

4. Tomasz Adamek
45-2-0 (28 KOs)
Last Fight: UD 12, Eddie Chambers, Jun 16
Next Fight: Sep 8 TBD

Adamek is 9-1 as a heavyweight, sporting only two knockouts.  Unimpressive in his win against an injured Eddie Chambers last month, Adamek has a majority decision triumph over Chris Arreola in 2010 and a unanimous decision win over the gritty Nagy Aguilera in March. At heavyweight,  his resume is good but not as impressive as those rated higher.

5. Chris Arreola
35-2-0 (28 KOs)
Last Fight: KO 1 Eric Molina, Feb 18

Arreola has a physical, come-forward, yet often unrefined style and is willing to take punches to deliver them. He possesses a great chin and one-punch-knockout power. His only loses were against two fighters rated higher, Vitali and Adamek.

6. Kubrat Pulev
Record: 16-0-0 (8 KOs)
Last Fight: TKO 11, Alexander Dimitrenko, May 5

Pulev defeated Michael Sprott, Travis Walker, Derric Rossy, Paolo Vidoz, Dominick Guinn and Matt Skelton before soundly beating then Top 10 heavyweight Alexander Dimitrenko in May.

8.Denis Boytsov
31-0-0 (25 KOs)
Last Fight: UD 12 Dominick Guinn, Apr 13

Boytsov has an impressive record but is largely untested. To move up, he must fight better opposition.

8. Tony Thompson
36-3-0, 24 KOs
Last Fight: Lost, TKO by Wladimir Klitschko, Jul 7

Minus Wladimir Klitschko, Tony is 36-1 with 24 knockouts. He drops to No. 8 because he hasn't won a fight in well over a year and failed to be nearly as competitive against the Ukrainian the second time around.

9. Seth Mitchell
25-0-1 (19 KOs)
Last Fight: TKO 3 Chazz Witherspoon, Apr 28
Next Fight: Jonathon Banks, Sep 15

Seth is in the Top 10 because he's unbeaten in 26 bouts and has defeated Chazz Witherspoon (then 30-2) and Timur Ibragimov (then 30-3-1). We'll know more about his potential after he faces Jonathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) in September.

10. Tyson Fury
United Kingdom
19-0, 14 KO
Last Fight: TKO 5 Vinny Maddalone, Jul 7

Since his decision win over the very capable Dereck Chisora a year ago, Fury has won four consecutive fights by knockout. Although three of those bouts were against journeymen, Tyson looked impressive dispatching them and has been active.

Honorable Mentions

Odlanier Solis 
18-1 (12 KOs)
Last Fight: UD 12 Konstantin Airich, May 19

Robert Helenius (injured)
17-0-0 (11 KOs)
Last Fight: SD 12 Dereck Chisora, Nov 12 * Decision highly controversial