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Ranking the Cruiserweights: Usyk owns the division

1) Oleksandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KO)

Usyk, 31, won the World Boxing Super Series, and did so with relative ease in the final, totally outclassing Murat Gassiev. With that win, he not only took the Muhammad Ali Trophy, he also became the division’s first undisputed champion since Evander Holyfield, unifying the WBC, WBO, IBF, and WBA titles. Now, he’s calling out Tony Bellew, who recently made a statement about wanting to fight the Usyk-Gassiev winner. If he fights Bellew, it could be at heavyweight, and that’s probably in Usyk’s future either way. He’s done literally all he can do at cruiserweight, and it would be interesting, at the very least, to see him test his skills and excellent movement against bigger fighters. Next: TBA

2) Mairis Briedis (24-1, 18 KO)

I gotta go with Briedis in the No. 2 spot, because he gave Usyk a much tougher challenge in the WBSS semifinal than Gassiev did in the final. Look, styles make fights, and maybe Gassiev’s power would wreck Briedis. I don’t know. And that’s a fight I’d be happy to watch. But I can’t ignore how easily Usyk wiped out Gassiev, a very good fighter, when comparing it to the majority decision Usyk took over Briedis in a legitimately close fight. Briedis, 33, also fought in Moscow on Saturday, beating Brandon Deslaurier. It wasn’t the most exciting showing from Briedis, but it got him back in the ring. Next: TBA

3) Murat Gassiev (26-1, 19 KO)

Here’s the good news for Gassiev: he’s 24, which makes him the youngest fighter in my top 10, and he’s got a lot of room and time to improve from what he already is. His performance against Usyk was disappointing, due to Usyk just being too skilled for him. But Gassiev has a good base, especially with his power, which may be division-best. He learned some lessons against Usyk, or at least that’s the hope. Next: TBA

4) Krzysztof Glowacki (30-1, 19 KO)

Glowacki, 31, is the division’s best fighter who did not participate in the WBSS. The Polish southpaw lost to Usyk in 2016, losing the WBO belt, which he won in 2015 via knockout against Marco Huck in a very fun fight. He defended against veteran American Steve Cunningham five months before losing to Usyk. Since the defeat, he’s gone 4-0, fighting three times in Poland and once in Latvia. It hasn’t been against top competition, but he remains a contender, even if he’s fallen out of the spotlight a bit. Next: TBA

5) Yunier Dorticos (22-1, 21 KO)

Dorticos, 32, was last seen in February, stopped in the 12th round by Gassiev. He was closer on the cards than I thought he deserved, and got himself stopped fighting desperately in the final round. But hey, at least he was going for the win with all he had. He’s a good fighter, a power puncher with a fun style, not at all the stereotype of the Cuban boxer. Next: TBA

6) Denis Lebedev (30-2, 22 KO)

The Russian veteran hasn’t fought in over a year now, so he’s off some lists, but I’ve given up on that whole thing. He’s not retired and he’s going to fight again sooner or later. He turns 39 on August 14, though, so he’s probably not long for the sport either way. That said, his only loss since 2010 came to Gassiev in December 2016. He’s still in the mix. Next: TBA

7) Maxim Vlasov (42-2, 25 KO)

Vlasov, 31, is quietly on a hell of a run, winning 12 straight fights since moving up in weight following a loss to Zurdo Ramirez in 2015, a fight where Vlasov did fairly well but dropped a decision. He hasn’t exactly been running over the division’s best, but cruiserweight is fairly top heavy and he’s put himself in the discussion. Also holds the WBC silver title, won on February 3 with a stoppage victory over Olanrewaju Durodola. Next: TBA

8) Andrew Tabiti (16-0, 13 KO)

One of the few cruiserweights to get any TV exposure in the United States, because he’s with Al Haymon. The 28-year-old Tabiti built up a nice KO percentage before stepping up his competition, after which he’s gone a full 10 with both Keith Tapia and Steve Cunningham, but he did knock out Lateef Kayode in his last fight on May 11. He’s a promising fighter, but not sure how high his ceiling is. Next: TBA

9) Junior Makabu (21-2, 20 KO)

Congo’s Makabu, 30, has won two straight since being stopped in three by Tony Bellew in 2016, the fight that made Bellew a world champion and really set off a fine run for him. Makabu is still around, though, and again, it’s a top-heavy division, so someone has to fill out these last few spots. His last two wins, both in 2017, weren’t against very good competition, to be fair. If you have him outside the top 10, I get it. Next: TBA

10) Kevin Lerena (21-1, 9 KO)

Lerena, 26, is a southpaw from South Africa and has scored some solid wins over Youri Kalenga, Dmytro Kucher, and Roman Golovashchenko in his last three fights, winning and twice defending the lightly-regarded IBO title during that run. His only loss came to Johnny Muller back in 2014, and he’s on a 10-fight winning streak since. Next: TBA

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