With four belt champion Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev moving up to Heavyweight there are a heap of boxers looking to establish themselves as the world’s number one Cruiserweight.
BoxNation has broadcast many of the fights in recent years that have made the 200lb division a catalogue of excitement.
Our cameras are in South Africa on Saturday 8th June when one of the men jostling to be the best, Kevin Lerena, makes the fourth defence of his IBO Cruiserweight belt against Vasil Ducar.
BoxNation pundit Steve Lillis names his six cruiser bruisers battling to be the division’s top dog:
1) MAIRIS BRIEDIS (Latvia) 25-1 (18 KOs)
Briedis arguably has the best credentials to make a claim to be the division’s number one, with his only loss coming on points against Oleksandr Usyk in a World Boxing Super Series thriller. He is number one seed in the second series of the WBSS. He has already defeated German Noel Gevor and faces Pole Krzysztof Glowacki on June 15th for a place in the final. His fights deliver and no wonder he draws huge crowds at home.
2) YUNIER DORTICOS (Cuba) 23-1 (21 KOs)
Many Cubans aren't known as warmongers, but ‘The KO Doctor’ has shown he’s cut from a different cloth. He was knocked out in the 12th round by Murat Gassiev in a WBSS barnstormer last year, but is back for season two and faces Andrew Tabiti on the Briedis v Glowacki bill. He has some serious names on his record and the big puncher has knockouts over danger-men Youri Kalenga and Dmitry Kudryashov, in a WBA Title tussle.
3) KRZYSZTOF GLOWACKI (Poland) 31-1 (19 KOs)
Like Maris Briedis his only setback came against Oleksandr Usyk in September 2016 when he was relieved of his WBO Title. He has won five on the spin since and had a solid triumph in November when he beat Maksim Vlasov. Glowacki’s best win came in August 2015 in his World Title win knocking out Marco Huck.
4) ANDREW TABITI (USA) 17-0 (13 KOs)
Tabiti is the only man in our six without any blemish on his record, and performances have shown why he is nicknamed ‘The Beast’. He outpointed unbeaten Ruslan Fayfer in his WBSS to book a last four clash against Yuniel Dorticos, which will show whether he is for real. Until Fayfer he has been sensibly matched and beat names like Steve Cunningham and Lateef Kayode who were past their best. His hand speed and movement makes him a hard man to defeat.
5) DENIS LEBEDEV (Russia) 32-2 (23 KOs)
Few fighters have given BoxNation viewers as much excitement as the Russian southpaw who celebrates his 40th birthday in August. Nobody can forget his swollen right eye when he ‘lost’ to Guillermo Jones, a result that was changed to a no-contest after the Panamanian failed a drugs test. He has won three on the spin since a split decision defeat against Murat Gassiev in December 2016, and still holds the WBA 'Super' World Title. Lebedev hasn’t boxed so far this year and having not entered the WBSS the big fights are missing him for now.
6) KEVIN LERENA (South Africa) 22-1 (10 KOs)
Lerena would start as a clear underdog against any of the five, but along with Tabiti he is a fighter who is on the ascend and can improve massively. His BoxNation-televised win against Artur Mann was impressive. Lerena won his belt in September 2017 outpointing Congolese Youri Kalenga and made successful defences against Ukrainian Dmytro Kucher, Roman Golovashchenko and Mann. He is promoted by South Africa’s most successful promoter Rodney Berman and avenged his only defeat.