We finally finish off our look at current Asian rankings this week with a look at the Heavyweight division, which surprisingly a lot, lot deeper than both the Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight divisions. The reality is that the division still isn't amazing, and it actually a truly frustrating one, but is a lot deeper than the two division's we've just mentioned.
1-Zhang Zhilei (21-0, 16)
The leading Asian Heavyweight right now is Chinese veteran Zhang Zhilei, who has proven himself more in the professional ranks than anyone else from the area. He's 37 years old now, and has likely missed the boat of a major fight. Despite that he's very talented, looks very natural in the ring and is a very skilled, surprisingly quick boxer-puncher. Sadly his best win so far is his 2019 victory over Andriy Rudenko and given his age it's unlikely we'll see him really taking on anyone big before his body begins to break down and retirement calls. Interestingly there had been talk of him fighting Anthony Joshua but that talk now looks to be completely dead.
2-Bakhodir Jalolov (6-0, 6)
We stick with giants as we go to US based Uzbek giant Bakhodir Jalolov. At the moment Jalolov hasn't fully committed to the professional ranks, hence why he has only fought 6 times in the professionals since his debut in May 2018. He has, however, been busy in the amateurs and in 2019 he won the World Amateur Championships and clearly has been staying busy. He is a big hope for the 2020, or should that be 2021, Olympics. At the age of 25, he turns 26 later this month, Jalolov has time on his side, he's huge, very skilled, a big puncher and has surprising fluidity for such a big man. We'd love to see him fully commit to the professional ranks, and when he does he's going to be a big star.
3-Ivan Dychko (9-0, 9)
Another giant, and former amateur standout, is Ivan Dychko, a Kazakh with so much potential that many tipped him as a major star when he turned professional in 2017. Sadly his amateur credentials are now looking like a part of history and in the 3 years that Dychko has been a professional he has really just has frustration after frustration. He's a proper giant, at around 6'9", a smooth operator with power, speed and skills, and like Jalolov is very fluid for such a big man. Sadly inactivity, bouts falling through, poor competition and nothing really going his way has left him really feeling like a man with lost potential. His biggest win to date was his 2019 victory over Ray Austin and it feels like his career should be a long, long way further than it is. A talent, but a talent that is being badly wasted.
4-Mahammadrasul Majidov (2-0, 2)
Another Asian former amateur stand out is Azeri banger Mahammadrasul Majidov. The 33 year old looks like to be fast tracked, given his age and links to Matchroom, and has got the strong amateur background to be moved rapidly through the ranks. Sadly Majidov turned professional too late to see what he can really do and really build a professional standing, though he is blessed with brutal power, under-rated skills and frightening physical strength. Given that Majidov was never the quickest we don't think he'll age quickly, but we do feel he's turned pro too young to get the experience he needs to reach the top of the sport. Fingers crossed, however, that Majidov's professional career will light a fire under the backsides of top Azeri amateur to turn professional when they still have time to make a mark on the pros.
5-Zhan Kossobutskiy (13-0, 12)
Technically Zhan Kossobutskiy has done more than most in this list, and is more proven as a professional than almost everyone in this top 10. Despite that he's not looking like the natural talent that a Dychko or Jalolov has. Instead he's looked a bit raw, and has been taking on fighters generally on short notice. Despite the complaints about his competition 31 year old has been busy, with 4 fights in 2019, including a career best win over the then 15-0 Agron Smakici for a minor IBF title. Given his age, and now experience, we expect to see him step up this year, especially he's now backed be a rather strong promotional team. We expect to see Kossobutskiy fighting at a higher level, but it's hard to see him getting a world title fight any time soon.
6-Ruslan Myrsatayev (7-0, 6)
Another Kazakh making his way into our top 10 is Ruslan Myrsatayev, who is 35 years old and has likely missed the bout to make an impact at a higher level. His best win to date is a KO win over British veteran Danny Williams last year, and since then he has seen his KO run come to an end, being taken 8 rounds by Yury Bykhautsou. Although not the most talented Myrsatayev is a fight with heavy hands, and a decent work rate, but nothing exceptional and we could easily see him losing to fighters below him who make the most of his slowness. From here on we expect him to slow further and really only expect him to slide down the rankings, and not do much of note. Again a shame he turned pro so late as he could have been in some interesting fights just a few years ago.
7-Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-2, 13)
Former unified Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific champion Kyotaro Fujimoto is one of the more well known names on this list. He was a K1 fighter, the first Japanese national champion in a general and a man splattered by Daniel Dubois last year in the UK. Sadly he's also a man who was looking like a big fish in a little pond. Technically he's actually not a bad fighter, but he's also not a particularly impressive one. He's often negative in the ring, relying on his speed and movement, sadly when he's facing a quicker fighter that big advantage is neutralised and he lacks the power to get respect of opponents. It's great to see a Japanese Heavyweight try and do something on a bigger stage, but the reality is that Fujimoto hasn't got the toughness, chin, size or power to make a mark against the better fighters, even the better Asian fighters.
8-Ryu Ueda (9-1-1, 5)
It's hard to know how good Ryu Ueda can become, but at the moment his ceiling looks low. He's the current Japanese Heavyweight champion, claiming the title last year when he beat Kotatsu Takehara in their second bout. He looks the part physically, and is a big, athletic looking guy, but sadly he's relatively uncoordinated and when he gets in the ring the natural athletic ability one would assume he has is lacking. He doesn't look comfortable in the ring. At the age of 28 there is room for improvement, but it's hard to see him improving much and he really is lucky the Japanese scene is very weak at the division.
9-Eric Pen (6-0, 5)
American born Cambodian Eric Pen is a very interesting fighter in some ways, but like many Asian Heavyweights his potential to make a mark at the higher levels is very, very limited. Pen is the current WBA Asia champion but his competition so far has been dire and his last win, over Alexander Bajawa came against a very out of shape fighter. It's impossible to know how good Pen is given how easily matched he's been. Saying that however we would love to see him fight Ueda in what would, on paper, be a big step up in class for Pen.
10-Yunlong Shi (1-0, 1)
Chinese Heavyweight Yunlong Shi might not have been a success in WSB but he impressed in his professional boxing debut last year, stopping Pawel Sowik in 2 rounds in Poland. Unlike many fighters on this list he's actually based in European, with a Polish team behind him. It's hard to know just how good Shi is, but we were impressed by his debut, and wouldn't be betting against him against Pen or Ueda. It's still very early in his career and he looks like someone to actually be quite excited about. Again very, very early days, but he has size and skills, and on his debut he showed decent power, albeit against a very limited opponent.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).