10 compelling fights to make at cruiserweight

1 Jai Opetaia vs Lawrence Okolie

As is the case in most weight classes, it makes sense for the consensus top two to meet at some point and Opetaia and Okolie, both unbeaten belt-holders, are clearly the top two at 200 pounds right now.

2 Lawrence Okolie vs Richard Riakporhe

Before fighting Opetaia, maybe Okolie will fight fellow Brit Riakporhe, someone every bit as powerful and explosive as him. The two recently scrapped at a film premiere, which suggests the wheels are already in motion.

3 Chris Billam-Smith vs Arsen Goulamirian

France’s Goulamirian currently holds the WBA cruiserweight belt and could be a good introduction to the world stage for Bournemouth’s Billam-Smith, whose improvement has been impressive of late.

4 Jai Opetaia vs Badou Jack

Once a belt-holder at super-middleweight and light-heavyweight, Jack completed the hattrick in February when stopping Ilunga Makabu in 12 rounds. Now WBC champion, he deserves a big fight against Opetaia.

5 Mairis Briedis vs Albert Ramirez

Having surrendered his IBF belt to Jai Opetaia last July, Briedis will be keen to make amends and return to the top. Ramirez, meanwhile, is a southpaw Venezuelan unbeaten in 15 fights, with 14 of those wins coming by knockout.

6 Richard Riakporhe vs Chris Billam-Smith II

When this pair met for the first time back in 2019 it was Riakporhe who had his hand raised, winning a split-decision after 10 rounds. Both have improved since then, however, and therefore a rematch would be most welcome.

7 Sergey Kovalev vs Yuniel Dorticos

Two veterans of the division, Kovalev is now a cruiserweight following many years spent at light-heavyweight and Dorticos is slowly trying to launch a final run at a title after losing his IBF belt to Mairis Briedis in 2020.

8 Yuniel Dorticos vs Mike Perez

Cuba vs Cuba, both Dorticos and Perez are cruiserweights in need of momentum and urgency at this late stage in their respective careers. Perez was last seen stopping Vasil Ducar in March 2022, whereas Dorticos halted journeyman Deibis Berrocal in December.

9 Sergey Kovalev vs Evgeny Tishchenko

A battle of Russians at opposite ends of their careers, Kovalev is a 39-year-old who turned pro back in 2009, whereas Tishchenko is 31 and turned pro in 2018.

10 Mikael Lawal vs Isaac Chamberlain

Although not at the level of some of the other fights on this list, a British cruiserweight title fight between Lawal, the champion, and Chamberlain would be a tasty fight for London and could act as the launchpad for one of them.

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