Over the past half decade or so, the Heavyweight division has largely been dominated by brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. They've had an absolute stranglehold between them and have lost very few rounds as of late.
However, there are many up-and-coming and some already established fighters who have a chance to compete with the Klitschko brothers. So, in no particular order, here are the top 10 fighters most likely—or, with the best chance—to beat the Klitschkos.
Denis Boytsov is a 26-year-old Russian heavyweight. I've profiled him before, and he's an absolute beast in the ring.
Boytsov is a Russian tank, and few active fighters possess his natural tenacity and killer instinct. Few fighters also have his ability to finish off their opponents. Boytsov's record is an unblemished 31-0 with 25 KOs.
The one thing going against Boytsov is his height (6'1''), but he reminds me of Mike Tyson, and he really bangs hard to the body. He'd certainly give it his all and would make a great fight with either Klitschko.
Povetkin is somewhat of an enigma to me. He's a talented fighter, but he seems to have a habit of not showing up in shape for some of his fights, like he did against Marco Huck in March—a fight I, along with many, believe he lost.
However, when in shape, Povetkin has excellent boxing skills and would really pose a challenge to either Klitschko. He's undefeated at 24-0, with 16 KOs and a gold medal to boot.
Povetkin has the natural talent, but is his work ethic good enough? That's the real question. I think Povetkin would have a decent shot to pose the slow-footed Vitali some serious problems, and he could possibly out-box him down the stretch.
However, against Wladimir, Povetkin would get picked apart due to Wlad's speed and superior athleticism.
We've arrived at the first American on our list, former Michigan State linebacker Seth Mitchell.
Mitchell was rocked in the first round of his last fight against Chazz Witherspoon before coming back to stop Witherspoon in the third round of a fantastic fight. Mitchell has real power, and like Boystov, he really digs extremely hard to the body—something that is key to fighting a Klitschko.
At this point, Mitchell may be a fight or two away from being ready, but in boxing, you have to strike while the iron's hot, so don't be surprised to see him fighting a Klitschko this year. Mitchell would need to utilize his body punching to have a shot, but he'd make for a really fun fight no matter what.
I see Mitchell having a better shot against Vitali since Vitali is more likely to get involved in a brawl type of fight, which would benefit Mitchell's style.
Tyson Fury is a huge, 6'9'' British heavyweight.
Above all else, what he really has going for him against the K-bros is his size.
Fury is 2-3 inches taller than the brothers, and it'd be really interesting to see how they'd go about fighting an opponent larger than them; much of there dominance has to do with opponents unable to surmount the size difference.
Besides his size, Fury has good boxing skills and pretty good power. For a fighter of his huge stature, he can also fight very well on the inside, much like Riddick Bowe did, despite being a tall fighter.
Fury sports a win over Dereck Chisora, who recently put up a good fight with Vitali, so he'd figure to have a good chance.
Like Fury, Helenius is very tall at 6'7", which automatically gives him a better chance than most against the Klitschko brothers.
Helenius has real power with both hands and sports wins over three former heavyweight titlists in only 17 fights (Sam Peter, Sergei Liakovich and Lamon Brewster). His last fight was against Dereck Chisora, where he was given a decision in a fight most believe he lost.
Helenius is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, but I would like to see him against either brother. I think, at the very least, he'd make for a great fight, and fighting against Vitali could be a repeat of Vitali and Lennox Lewis' classic 2003 battle.
We arrive at the second American heavyweight on the list, Chris Arreola. Arreola previously was stopped in 10 rounds by Vitali Klitschko four years ago, but Arreola showed a lot of heart in a fight where he never stopped trying.
Now, Arreola is 25 pounds lighter and in much better condition, both physically and mentally. He finally realizes what he needs to do in order to fight at the championship level. He's also been very active as of late, fighting six times in the past year, which is great to build confidence and experience.
I think Arreola will get the nod against Wladimir later this year, and I could see him potentially winning that fight. If he comes in in excellent shape, he's very capable. And if Arreola can lure Wlad into a fight, he has extremely strong power and could really test Wladimir's chin.
Check out the knockout and interview in the video above. Be warned, though—Arreola is very funny in his interview, but he uses a little bit of profanity.
David Haye caused himself a lot of bad press with his broken little toe excuse following his defeat to Wladimir last summer. Haye briefly retired, but is back to fight Dereck Chisora July 14 in a big-money fight that will likely lead to a title shot for the winner.
I'm expecting Haye to knock Chisora out, and I think he'll get a fight with Vitali in September or October. I think Haye stands an excellent chance against Vitali, since Vitali is older and slower than Wladimir. Plus, Vitali definitely presents a better style matchup than Haye had with Wladimir.
We'll have to see how Haye looks against Chisora, but he's only 31, which is young for a heavyweight. He's only had 27 pro fights and only three have gone the distance, so he's had very little wear and tear and could probably fight for at least four more years.
If his speed is still there, Haye is a highly dangerous opponent for Vitali, if and when they fight.
I didn't even know who Kubrat Pulev was until this past weekend when he had an impressive stoppage victory over top heavyweight Alexander Dimitrenko in Germany. From what I've seen of Pulev, he has very fast hands and a good stiff jab that he uses to measure and control distance.
However, he holds his hands very low, which he'd have to change if he were to fight a Klitschko. Still, Pulev seems to have good boxing skills and was able to beat the 6'7" Dimitrenko with relative ease, so he isn't intimidated by taller opponents.
Pulev only has 16 pro fights, so he's still working to get better. He certainly has the potential, and I think he's a name to watch.
We arrive at the third and last American heavyweight on the list, Deontay Wilder. Wilder hasn't really fought anyone of note, but he's young and has insane power in his right hand. He's also just as tall as the Klitschkos, which certainly helps his case.
Wilder needs to start stepping up his level of competition, but so far he's impressed; he's 21-0 with 21 KOs. His technique has gotten a lot better as he's come along, and I think in a year of so Wilder would be a good opponent for a Klitschko.
He has to step up sooner or later, and I think he's the dark horse of the Heavyweight division. When you have speed and power like Wilder does, you can't be counted out on any given night.
Go to 1:15 in this video; it's a great knockout with funny commentary from Britain's Steve Bunce.
Marco Huck is one of my favorite fighters. I just love the way he fights. He's somewhat crude and may lack technical skill, but he fights as hard as anyone in the world, and he is always slugging for the knockout.
Huck was robbed of a heavyweight title against Alexander Povetkin earlier this year, but he took the defeat in stride. Huck is fresh off a terrific fight with Ola Afolabi last weekend in which they traded bombs and battled to a draw.
He may be a long shot to beat the Klitschkos, but Huck would put up a tremendous fight and wouldn't stop trying. He'd make them both fight, would push them to the limit and, with his heart and will, I could see him grinding his way to a victory.
Huck would go all out, that's for sure.
Just take a look at the above video—it's straight out of a Rocky movie. Start is at about six minutes, and the last 1:30 of Round 12 is about as good as you'll see in boxing.