1.) Vitali Klitschko (39-2, 37 KOs )
Buzz: They keep setting them up and Vitali keeps whacking them down, rarely losing a round in the process. He wore his heiny-kicking shoes against Chris Arreola in what many expected to be a competitive fight. And his latest opponent Kevin Johnson was slick defensively, but apparently wasn’t paying attention during the pre-fight instructions when he was told that he was allowed to fight back. I rank Vitali over brother Wladimir because if they were to fight, I see Vitali’s durability as being the deciding factor.
Style: Very tall with solid but basic boxing skills. Uses his height and reach very effectively and moves extremely well on his feet. Has an excellent chin, heavy hands and despite his mouth often hanging open from the early rounds, never seems to tire.
2.) Wladimir Klitschko (53-3, 47 KOs )
Buzz: Head number two of what Max Kellerman calls the “two-headed heavyweight champ”. He's been nursing a shoulder injury that required surgery after his dominating win over relatively talented Ruslan Chagaev in April. Wlad hasn’t been in a competitive fight since using his horizontal skills to defeat Sam Peter in 2005. Head number two is scheduled to face an apparently rejuvenated, slimmed down Eddie Chambers next, in March.
Style: Tall and athletic with very good boxing skills. A cautious fighter who starts out controlling his opponents with a long, hard jab, then begins working in power punches. Has a powerful right hand. Rarely goes to the body. Stamina and chin have been suspect in the past.
Next: Eddie Chambers on March 20
3.) Alexander Povetkin (18-0, 13 KOs )
Buzz: Povetkin has wins over a faded version of Chris Byrd and an Eddie Chambers who seemed to have better things to do than fight in the second half of the bout. He crushed someone named Leo Nolan via KO3 in early December. The latest talk has him facing Carl Davis Drummond next, but nothing has been signed.
Style: A very good offensive fighter who works nice combinations and mixes it up well to the body and head. His lack of foot, upper body and head movement make him a stationary target.
4.) Eddie Chambers (35-1, 18 KOs )
Buzz: Chambers is coming off an impressive win over unbeaten Alexander Dimetrenko in July, following a decision over Sam Peter. He's been criticized for lack of intensity and weight issues, but had both well under control in the Dimetrenko fight. He'll need this and more to deal with Wladimir Klitschko in March.
Style: Quick hands support a nice offensive arsenal. A good jab which he needs to use more frequently. Has an inconsistent work rate and periods where he lacks focus. Good defense and slips punches well. Moderate power. Undersized relative to the modern giants in the division.
Next: Wladimir Klitschko on March 20
5.) David Haye (23-1, 21 KOs )
Buzz: The "Hayemaker" is a newly manufactured heavyweight after spending the majority of his career as a cruiser. In an uneven performance, he lifted the WBA belt from Nikolai Valuev via majority decision in a November stankfest. He'll need to show more if he expects to compete with the Klitschko boys, whom he picked a fight with—then ran away—and has begun taunting again on the school playground.
Style: Quick-handed and powerful. Can be wild with his punches. Needs more consistency in his performances. Still fielding questions about his chin, particularly now that he’s standing at the big boys urinal.
6.) Ruslan Chagaev (25-1, 17 KOs )
Buzz: He had all but the boxing trunks beaten off of him by Wladimir Klitschko in his most recent fight last summer in a matchup that I expected to be somewhat competitive. Chagaev has wins over Nicolai Valuev, John Ruiz and Carl Davis Drummond. No definitive word yet on when he’ll return.
Style: A southpaw with good skills in all areas. Known as the “White Tyson” for his ability to slip punches with upper body movement. Looks to land the left and loves throwing it to the body. Tends to flick and paw with his jab.
7.) Chris Arreola (28-1, 25 KOs )
Buzz: TKO'd feisty but undersized Brian Minto in his comeback fight after having his ears slapped back by Vitali Klitschko. He’s a crowd pleaser with power who comes to fight, so it won’t be long before he scores another big name opponent.
Style: An aggressive fighter with good boxing skills and a lot of power. Durable but as evasive as a viaduct. Commitment to training has been questioned.
8.) Nicolai Valuev (50-2, 34 KOs )
Buzz: Fresh off of losing an Ambien-laced majority decision, along with his WBA title, to David Haye. This followed a disputed majority decision win over codger Evander Holyfield, not long after squeaking out a split decision over John “Do we really have to watch this guy fight again?” Ruiz.
Style: At 7-feet-tall and over 300 lbs, he has an enormous size advantage over opponents. Has decent boxing skills, but not the quickest guy around.
9.) Tony Thompson (33-2, 21 KOs )
Buzz: He was TKO'd by Wladimir Klitschko in 2008 in his only loss in nearly a decade. His last fight was an early December ninth-round TKO over once-beaten mid-level fighter Chazz Witherspoon.
Style: A 6’5” southpaw with an awkward style. A solid but unspectacular fighter. Has a good jab and likes to apply pressure.
10.) Odlanier Solis (15-0, 11 KOs )
Buzz: He's been easily handling low-level competition. Solis is coming off a second round TKO of former contender turned steppingstone Monte Barrett in October. He was a Cuban amateur near-legend where he has a stoppage win over David Haye. His ballooning weight may finally prove that socialism really does promote poor work ethic.
Style: Very good offensive skills with good power. At 6’1 ½” 270 is at least 25 pounds heavier than he needs to be. Doesn’t always stay busy enough inside the ring. Needs to develop some head movement defensively.