Top 12 best cruiserweights in boxing: Rankings for 200lb weight class starring Opetaia, Briedis, Jack

A title doesn’t define a champion — it’s a champion that defines a title. 

Jai Opetaia proved that analogy true once again when he scored a first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Brit Ellis Zorro on December 23 in Riyadh. He retains his position at the summit of the Sporting News’ cruiserweight rankings. 

Days before the fight, Opetaia was forced to relinquish his IBF championship in contentious circumstances. The New Jersey-based organization insisted that the unbeaten Australian’s next opponent should be mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis, the man Opetaia defeated to win the title in July 2022. If that’s not bad enough, Briedis is currently injured and unable to compete.

Opetaia, a quick-fisted lefty with superb skills, went ahead with his maiden defense and ended Zorro’s world title hopes with a single left hand. The 28-year-old is still The Ring Magazine champion and he remains the man to beat at 200 pounds.

Mateusz Masternak’s sudden capitulation at the hands of Chris Billiam-Smith led to his removal from the ratings. Evgeny Tishchenko drops out as he’s moved up to the newly formed super cruiserweight division. And, finally, Aleksei Papin exits after being outpointed by fast-rising Russian Soslan Asbarov. New entries include Asbarov, Ryan Rizicki and Michal Cieslak.

Cruiserweight rankings: The Sporting News’ top 12 

Rank Fighter Titles Record Movement (Dec. 28)
1 Jai Opetaia Ring 24-0
(19 KOs)
2 Mairis Briedis   28-2
(20 KOs)
3 Badou Jack   28-3-3
(17 KOs)
4 Chris Billam-Smith WBO 19-1
(13 KOs)
5 Noel Gevor Mikaelian WBC 27-2
(12 KOs)
6 Yuniel Dorticos   26-2
(24 KOs)
7 Lawrence Okolie   19-1
(14 KOs)
8 Richard Riakporhe   17-0
(13 KOs)
9 Arsen Goulamirian WBA 27-0
(18 KOs)
10 Michal Cieslak   25-2
(19 KOs)
NEW
11 Ryan Rozicki   20-1
(19 KOs)
NEW
12 Soslan Asbarov   5-0
(1 KO)
NEW

The best in the world at cruiserweight: Jai Opetaia

What an incredible rise it’s been for Opetaia. In July 2022, he entered his first world title bout as a prohibitive underdog and was labeled by many as a novice pro. Twelve rounds later, he’d overcome the vastly more experienced Briedis — as well as a badly broken jaw — to claim the IBF and Ring Magazine championships.

Now, with two electrifying performances in title defenses, Opetaia is in the pound-for-pound conversation. In September, the champ boxed brilliantly before taking out Jordan Thompson in four rounds.

The recent Zorro victory confirmed what we already knew: Opetaia’s skills are matched only by his thunderous punching power. It will take a terrific fighter to beat him.


The Sporting News’ Boxing Ratings

Rules | Men’s P4P | Women’s P4P

HeavyweightCruiserweight | Super Middleweight | Super Lightweight | Lightweight | Super Featherweight | Featherweight | Light Flyweight | Minimumweight 

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