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The seven best heavyweight boxers that SunSport predicts will be fighting for world titles within a few years

HEAVYWEIGHT boxing is a funny old game with the division’s biggest stars reigning at the top – supported by some rapidly rising starlets and the odd clown.

Of course, the one fight everyone is currently talking about is the £200m unification showdown between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury.

Daniel Dubois is still one to watch despite his crushing defeat to Joe Joyce

SunSport take a closer look at the seven heavyweight fighters that could compete for world titles

But the division also has a number of rising stars who could soon find themselves challenging the top dogs for their crowns.

SunSport looks at the young bucks who could burst on the scene and make serious cash in the coming years:

Filip Hrgovic

Age: 28

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Record: 12-0 [10 KOs]

From: Croatia

The 6ft 6in ace is no spring chicken but is fresh in professional boxing terms after focusing on his amateur career.

Like a lot of the fighters on the Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz 2 undercard, he looked off his usual pace in Saudi Arabia back in December 2019.

He has since knocked out Alexandre Kartozia and Rydell Booker.

He also has solid names like Kevin Johnson and Eric Molina on his record – as is Brit gatekeeper Tom Little – after a celebrated amateur stretch.

Hrgovic’s amateur career peaked with a bronze at the 2016 Olympics, leaving him with a record of 74-15.

Seen as Eastern Europe’s heir to Wladimir Klitschko, Hrgovic has a thunderous right hand but is lacking the speed or agility some of his peers on similar upward curves are boasting.

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Tony Yoka

Age: 28

Record: 9-0 [Seven KOs]

From: France

The 6ft 7in ace lost his first five amateur fights – against top opposition like Hrgovic and Erislandy Savon – but snatched the 2016 Olympic gold ahead of Englishman Joe Joyce in a very controversial decision.

But his professional career has been severely stunted by a ban after he missed three doping tests over a 12-month period.

The one-sided win over English warhorse Dave Allen is probably Yoka’s most impressive to date.

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The prospect is the same height as monster-punching Deontay Wilder but weighs in at 17st for most fights and his greatest attribute is his lightning speed for such a towering frame.

And the fact he is trained by defensive mastermind and Andre Ward mentor – Virgil Hunter – means he could become the full package.

Yoka defeated Joe Joyce in a controversial decision back in 2016

Daniel Dubois

Age: 23

Record: 15-1 (14 KOs)

From: England

The Peacock Gym starlet’s future on this list hangs in the balance after he was brutally stopped by Joe Joyce in November.

A win there would have catapulted the Greenwich powerhouse into world title contention for the end of 2021- 2022, but the crushing defeat against the Juggernaut has set his career back while boosting Joyce’s own underrated credentials.

With very little amateur experience, Dubois is learning on the job, rapidly, and he will be desperate to return to the ring in convincing fashion as quickly as possible to prove he is the hottest heavyweight prospect.

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Nathan Gorman was his biggest test prior to Joyce – for the British title – and he was dismantled inside five July rounds.

The 6ft 5in hulk is dripping with potential that only a dramatic step-up in levels will fulfil or debunk.

Daniel Dubois made light work of Kyotaro Fujimoto back in December 2019

Now he must bounce back from that crushing loss to Joe Joyce to silence his doubters

Michael Hunter

Age: 32

Record: 21-1-1 [13 KOs]

From: America

At only 6ft 2in and barely 16st, the Las Vegas-based Bounty Hunter spells push-over for most of the heavyweight division – on paper.

But inside the ring, where he is free to show off all of his technical excellence and cunning, Hunter is being avoided by anyone with a brain or a long-term plan.

The former cruiserweight has only been in the division for three years, after losing a tight decision against undisputed king Usyk, and already has scalps like Martin Bakole and Sergey Kuzmin.

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He should also have veteran Alexander Povetkin’s name on his bedpost but a Russian judge backed his compatriot when they boxed in Saudi Arabia in December, so Hunter was left with a cruel draw.

The fearless technician battled Tyson Fury in a 2006 amateur show and gave him hell, the Brit hero got the decision, but the clash proved Hunter can hold his own with the biggest boys.

Hunter is the oldest name on the list but he is still fresh to the division, brimming with talent and confidence and an absolute nightmare to deal with.

Hunter was unlucky not to defeat Povetkin in December

Efe Ajagba

Age: 26

Record: 14-0 [11 KOs]

From: Nigeria

Last year the Houston-based slugger made another giant step up, battering heavyweight journeyman Rozvan Cojanu in nine rounds.

The Romanian recently only lasted two with Daniel Dubois and Luis Ortiz but went 12 rounds with former WBO champ Joseph Parker, so Ajagba’s win has got people taking him seriously again.

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In the fight prior to the Cojanu win, Ajagba’s stock had wobbled after he was dropped by Georgian unknown Iago Kiladze, before going on to land another stoppage win.

The 6ft 6in starlet hits seriously hard but his power is raw and his defence is porous, failings that elite boxers like Fury and Joshua would jump all over.

But with plenty of time on his side, and dozens of low-middle level US heavyweights queuing up for a payday against him, Ajagba has a free pass to learn on the job.

Efe Ajagba eventually got the job done against Iago Kiladze

Frank Sanchez

Age: 28

Record: 17-1-0 [11 KOs, 1 NC]

From: Cuba

When the mentor of the biggest name in boxing signs you up, you know you are doing something right.

The Cuban Flash joined up with trainer of the year and Canelo coach Eddy Reynoso at the end of 2019 and got their partnership off to a flyer with a unanimous decision win over Jack Mulowayi.

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Much like fellow Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz, Sanchez has been accused of being older than his listed 28, and his management team are certainly not hanging around for him to slowly learn his trade.

The 6ft 4in ace had TEN fights in 2018 and totally dominated Joey Dawejko – the sparring partner who allegedly ruined AJ before his Ruiz Jr loss.

With communist Cuba usually ruling the amateur ranks with southpaw stylists, orthodox Sanchez likes to trade and bang in a refreshing change.

Few will fancy facing Sanchez, he won’t sell many tickets or give you an easy night, and he looks capable of springing a shock on someone.


Nodoby will fancy going up against Frank Sanchez

How Fury and Joshua compare

Hughie Fury

Age: 28

Record: 25-3 [14 KOs]

From: England

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If you can stop laughing and scoffing for a second, consider Tyson Fury’s cousin and former training partner has only lost decisions against then WBO world champ Joseph Parker, ex-champ Alexander Povetkin and Kubrat Pulev, who is mandatory for AJ and has only lost to a prime Wladimir Klitschko.

The 6ft 6in stick-and-move dancer has more experience than every other man on this list put together.

If the old adage that you learn more from a defeat than a win, then the younger Fury should be a phenomenal force one day soon.

He defeated Pole Mariusz Wach in December last time out via unanimous decision in a bloody encounter.

Trained by his father Peter, who helped mastermind Tyson’s 2015 win over Klitschko, Hughie has all-too-often looked devoid of power, much like his cousin before February’s total demolition of Wilder.

If, and it is a giant IF, Hughie can maintain the positive approach that helped him clean out Pavel Sour and Sam Sexton, then he could be a serious talent.

Povetkin, Pulev and Parker never came anywhere close to stopping him so it is not taking the pee to suggest he has his fair share of potential still yet to fulfil.

Hughie Fury can learn from his defeats

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