Cruiserweight is a division which is going through a transitional period right now. With big names such as Usyk, Gassiev and Hunter moving up to heavyweight plus long time staples of the division Lebedev retiring its left the weight class with few notable names.
The division does still have some good fighters such as Makubu, Dorticos, Briedis and Goulamirian but it doesn’t have any big names to attract the casual fans which is always a shame. It isn’t quite as stacked as it once was with a lot of the top talent of the division moving up. Within the next 12 or so months I think the landscape of the division will be completely different with many new names in the mix. I thought I’d name my top five prospects in this weight class and whether I think they will win a title or not.
The first prospect is Jai Opetaia who is currently 19-0 with 15 knockouts. Hes got good power and is also an excellent boxer. Hes only 24 which is very young for a cruiserweight as like heavyweight they often don’t hit their primes until their late 20’s or early 30’s. He has a good win over Mark Flanagan who he managed to stop which is impressive as one of the only other people to KO Flanagan is Goulamirian who is currently the WBA champ. I think that he can certainly win a title as long as he keeps learning as at 24 he has plenty of time to get there.
The second prospect is Evgeny Tishchenko. He was a very decorated amateur before turning pro which is always good as amateur success normally means you do well in the pro ranks. Hes very tall for the weight and uses his size well when he wants too. He can keep opponents at range but does look a bit uncomfortable when someone is able to pressure him. He has decent power as well and hasn’t really been pushed too hard by any of the opponents hes faced. I think he has the potential to win a world title but I’m not sure i’d back him against any of the current champions right now.
The third prospect is Aleksei Egorov who is 11-0 and also a good former amateur. Hes a decent boxer that carries good power at Cruiserweight but he did struggle in his last fight. Hes quite stocky but has good hand speed and throws his punches with purpose rather than wasting shots. He has a decent engine but is a bit muscle bound and lacks good head movement which may get him in trouble at the top level. On his day he could win a title.
The fourth prospect is Richard Riakporhe who is currently 11-0 with 8 knockouts. Hes had four hard back to back fights which I was impressed with even if his last two were very close fights. He has very good power but lacks the boxing skills of many others on this list. He also has a tendency to hold his opponent a lot and in his last fight looked tired before the sixth round. I think that he will have learn’t a lot from taking four hard fights back to back and could improve enough to potentially challenge for a world title which he would always have a chance of winning with his power.
The fifth prospect is Lawrence Okolie who is currently 14-0 with 11 knockouts. He has a lot of good wins for being only 14 fights in and is already going to challenge for a world title. Hes very big for the weight and uses that size well by wrapping his opponents up stopping them from getting their punches off. He can be awful to watch but he is very effective at what he does. I can see him winning a world title though it will be interesting too see if people at world level let him hold them constantly and also if referees will penalize him more for his style which involves a lot of holding.
I’m sure at least one of these fighters will win a world title and I wouldn’t be surprised if all 5 won titles though Riakporhe is a bit harder to imagine right now.