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Light Heavyweight: An Underrated Division?

The light heavyweight division has been an overlooked division since Andre Ward retired from the sport. But, why is it hardly talked about across the world despite there being many talented fighters who seek the belts more than money? The light heavyweights would have been a great division for the WBSS tournament second season, but instead we got another cruiserweight tournament.

Here are profiles of the top ten (as listed by Ring Magazine) light heavies. Hopefully will temp you to watch these very talented fighters, in an underrated division.

10: Joe Smith Jr.

Many would have first heard of Joe Smith Jr. when he scored a TKO against future hall of famer Bernard ‘The Alien’ Hopkins. After the victory, Smith Jr. lost to talented Cuban Sullivan Barrera, ending up with him losing his WBC International title. He came back from that loss with a win in June this year against Melvin Russel by KO.

Smith has no scheduled fight currently, but was in talks with Dmitry Bivol over a bout expected back in September. With that falling through, he was expected to fight Artur Beterbiev this year on DAZN, though now that is to be expected early 2019. It is a fight that should be looked out for.

9: Marcus Browne

New Yorker Browne is an undefeated contender with a 22-0 record, 16 of those being won inside the distance. With no amateur experience, he has certainly made a name for himself in the division. Browne’s last performance was only a ten rounder but it was a fight that showed he had heart for the sport; beating Lenin Castillo via unanimous decision despite being knocked down. The American has no scheduled fights just yet but his fans cannot wait for his next one.

8: Sullivan Barrera

Sullivan Barrera is ranked eighth with the Ring Magazine and with a record of 22-2, he has also fought many talented fighters, including the ex-lineal champion Andre Ward. Also on his ledger areb Jeff Lacey, Joe Smith Jr. and Dmitry Bivol. It is hard not to like this courageous Cuban who is certainly not afraid to lose, his only losses were to Ward and Bivol.

The Cuban’s most recent outing was a unanimous decision victory against Sean Monaghan. No news on Barrera’s next outing but it’s certainly one to look forward to.

7: Artur Beterbiev

The IBF champion, Artur Beterbiev is only ranked at seventh which might surprise some given his record of 13 wins, no losses, all knockouts. The Russian’s last performance was an eventful one which against British light heavyweight contender, Callum Johnson. Beterbiev knocked Johnson down in the first round before Callum came back with a knockdown of his own in the second. It did not take long for Beterbiev to get Callum Johnson out of there though, with a TKO in the fourth.

6: Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Another Ukrainian amateur talent is in the top ten of the rankings for the Ring Magazine. Oleksandr Gvozdyk is ranked sixth holding a record of 15-0 with 12 stoppages. Gvozdyk was part of the amateur World Series of Boxing before turning professional with a record of 9-0 in that competition. He made his professional debut on the undercard for the Pacquiao vs Bradley 2 fight against Mike Montoya and won by a first round knockout.

Gvozdyk has won the NABO title and was ordered by the WBC for a title eliminator against Marcus Browne but Browne turned down the fight. His next scheduled fight is against WBC belt holder Adonis Stevenson on December the 1st.

5: Sergey Kovlev

The Russian Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev has had many solid pro performances after he was forced out of the amateur squad for Russia due to close competition with Artur Beterbiev. Hopkins, Nathan Cleverly and Jean Pascal are just some of the names that he defeated. But, when looking to obtain three out of the four belts twice, he come across undefeated American boxer Andre Ward and lost both times. Many thought Kovalev easily won the first fight and when the immediate rematch came along, fans thought Kovalev would comfortably take this one. Sadly for Kovalev and his fans, he didn’t win the rematch instead losing by TKO. Since then he has two wins back to back but was most recently defeated by Colombian boxer Eleidar Alvarez via knockout.

4: Badou Jack

Mayweather Promotions boxer Badou Jack is an athlete that certainly loves a test (as well as a draw). Since moving up from the super middleweight division, Jack has fought Nathan Cleverly who he beat by TKO and then fought Adonis Stevenson for the WBC title. Sadly for Jack, he fell short of winning the belt and the fight got called a draw.

Jack currently has no fights scheduled, he was disappointed with the decision against Stevenson but is looking for a rematch with Adonis after his December 1st bout (if victorious). If he cannot secure the rematch then he will be looking to take on Eleider Alvarez.

3: Adonis Stevenson

Adonis Stevenson has popped up a lot during this article and there is a reason for that. Having been in The Ring rankings for five and a half years; Adonis is certainly a brilliant champion but is arguably one that hasn’t been challenged much until recently. Stevenson beat Chad Dawson for the WBC belt in June 2013 then went on to knockout Tony Bellew two fights later. Stevenson has managed to hold that belt up until now- which is quite incredible- but fans have not ignored the fact that he has never looked to unify. Adonis’ next test will be against Gvodzyk on the undercard for Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder.

2: Dimitry Bivol

Dmitry Bivol is a Russian with a brilliant amateur pedigree and holds the WBA belt. After beating Jean Pascal via unanimous decision last weekend, Bivol will be looking to secure another one of the belts in his next fight or two. But, with Stevenson already taken, he either has the option of Alvarez or Russian rival Beterbiev, neither an easy fight.

Bivol is probably the most exciting champion out of the four with, only having had 15 fights with 11 knockouts. We have to wait on any news of his next fight but it would not be surprising if one of them were also on this list.

1: Eleider Alvarez

Finally, top spot goes to Eleider Alvarez, the man who was the underdog against Kovalev and soaked up his shots throughout the fight, before scoring a brilliant knockout. Alvarez is expected to rematch Kovalev in February 2019, which hopefully will just be as exciting as the original. ESPN have announced they will put it on their screens so it will probably be likely to be shown by Box Nation in the UK.

What do you think? Is the Light Heavyweight division overlooked and massively underrated? Or do you think other divisions are a lot better than this division? Let us know in the comments below.

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