What a weekend it was for WWE’s most iconic match – the Royal Rumble – but what if boxing held its own 30-man battle royal?
talkSPORT has taken the biggest and best of boxing’s current pound-for-pound superstars. Plus – in true WWE fashion – a few surprise returning ex-champions or megaphone-wielding promoters to see who ends up victorious.
The rules are the same: 30 competitors, over the top rope eliminations and only one victor. He gets to headline BoxingMania. Now, let’s reveal the ranking of least-to-most likely winners, before Top Rank chief Bob Arum hears about this and actually tries to stage it in the summer.
30. Jake Paul
Forced to step into the ring with a few genuine boxers not ex-NBA players or ageing UFC fighters, ‘The Problem Child’ – and brother to Royal Rumble competitor Logan – is belted back over the top rope with one clean punch. Sad to lose such a top heel early on, but we’ll do our best to live with it.
29. Eddie Hearn
Using Shane McMahon’s ‘Here Comes The Money’ theme song, the ‘Million Dollar Manchild’ arrives grinning to an electrifying chorus of boos only to last about as long in the ring as one of Anthony Joshua’s early career opponents. Fast car; fast exit.
28. Chris Eubank Sr
With Eubank Jr out of action, his old man steps in wearing a monocle, cane, pinstripe suit and top hat. Unfortunately his ring entrance takes so long that his opponents gather by the ropes in wait and, after he’s vaulted in, vault him back out. Simply not the best look.
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27. ‘Rocky Balboa’
Sly Stallone gets fans cheering with a surprise entrance, playing his iconic film character Rocky. Unfortunately the Hollywood legend is A) 76 years old, and B) only ever acted fighting. There’s no place for make-believe in the serious world of WWE – over the top he goes.
26. David Haye
Returning two-weight world champ appears the part with his good looks and shredded physique. However his body is secretly held together by sellotape and the first few moves see Haye bombed over the top. Had himself up on points at the time of the stoppage, though.
25 & 24. Terence Crawford and Errol Spence
Huge shock as two pre-Rumble favourites are eliminated together. Both arrive at the same time, then stand there waiting for the other welterweight to step into the ring first. The other competitors get tired of their stalling, pull them into the ring, then soon toss them both out.
23. Dillian Whyte
Impressive Jaws/werewolf entrance but ‘Dillian the Villain’ has made so many enemies over the years that he’s tombstoned, chokeslammed and powerbombed through a table before being gently pushed out. Whyte later insists the push did all the damage.
22. Bernard Hopkins
Crowd pops for a surprise return – the masked ‘Executioner’ – until he gets in the ring and begins tediously holding and grappling. Joe Smith Jr eventually runs in from the crowd and batters B-Hops through the ropes. Bernard complains bitterly. Everybody ignores it.
21. Deontay Wilder
Emerges yelling ‘bomb squad’ and dressed in his best ‘kinky Sauron’ outfit but it’s so heavy that by the time he gets in the ring, pre-Rumble favourite Wilder is running on empty and a sitting duck to be toppled out. Presents a list of 1,001 excuses why he lost on Monday’s RAW.
20. Josh Taylor
‘Rowdy Roddy Taylor’ isn’t happy (when is he ever?) about having to don a kilt and bagpipes, but shows his skills before getting into an argument with rising star ‘Jack El Gato’ ringside, leading to a distraction elimination. Cue an all-around-the-arena brawl with Jack.
19. Oscar De La Hoya
Promoter does far better than Mr ‘Earn with Hearn’ thanks to being a former pound-for-pound idol. However when ‘The Golden Boy’ spots ‘Stone Cold Dana White’ in the audience, he becomes so enraged that he eliminates himself to chase down his chrome-domed rival.
18. Andy Ruiz Jr
With respect to the new, slimmer Ruiz Jr, he still boasts the Yokozuna-style build that has won Rumbles past. Plus who on earth will lift him out? Unfortunately, the titantron accidentally starts showing ‘highlights’ of his rematch with Anthony Joshua and big Andy is lulled to sleep.
17. Gervonta Davis
Comes out in an actual army tank and begins KOing foes in the ring. However Davis loses interest when he realises a shot at a far more respected world title – the WWE championship – is on the line, rather than his beloved WBA “regular” belt. A surprisingly early exit.
16 & 15. Jermall Charlo and Jermell Charlo
A double DQ! ‘J Charlo’ is breezing through the early stages until it’s spotted that the identical pair are pulling off some classic wrestling ‘twin magic’ and swapping roles while one brother hides under the ring. Instant disqualification (but a shot at the tag team titles awaits).
14. Anthony Joshua
WWE booker Triple H’s eyes light up as the towering, handsome adonis strides to the ring. Cleans house early on but gets caught while updating his Instagram story mid-Rumble and is bundled out. Triple H books him in a WrestleMania pose-off against John Cena anyway.
13. Gennady Golovkin
Past his prime at 40 but ‘Triple G’ is still as tough as they come and the Kazakh is set for a run towards the end until one opponent, in desperation, reminds Golovkin that Chris Eubank Jr once thought he could beat him at his peak. Collapses with laughter and is eliminated.
12. Ryan Garcia
Good looking, fast, flashy (if unproven) with a huge social following – you know that WWE is pulling every dirty trick to ensure ‘King Ry’ goes deep into the Rumble. However when an overly rough headlock messes up Garcia’s perfect hair, he’s unable to save himself.
11. Vasiliy Lomachenko
Even slowing down and past his very best, Loma’s footwork is so mesmeric that who could even catch ‘The Matrix’ let alone throw him out of the ring? Eventually upcoming opponent Devin Haney runs in to sneakily trip Lomachenko, sending him pivoting over the top rope.
10. Mike Tyson
The return of crotch-chopping DX superstar ‘Iron Mike’ gets the night’s loudest ovation. As he showed against Roy Jones, even a mid-50s Tyson has enough old moves left to bludgeon a few foes – but Mike is just too, erm, mellow now to go all the way. Weeded out in 10th.
9. Shakur Stevenson
With his speed and silky skills, stylish southpaw Shakur is tipped as a potential future pound-for-pound no.1. However boxing – like WWE – is all about putting over fading old stars, not promoting youth. A load of veterans get together to bundle the slickster out.
8. Floyd Mayweather
Yes! The return of ultimate heel ‘Money’ sends the crowd wild. Goes far thanks to his WWE experience of deviously destroying The Big Show, but when a mid-Rumble offer to spar Prince Harry on a helipad in Dubai for a Netflix special comes in, Floyd is out ASAP.
7. Joe Joyce
‘Big Juggernaut’ is just the kind of beefy, relentless heavyweight built to go deep in any Rumble match. Unfortunately his trash talk attempts prove so lame that Triple H himself sneaks into the ring and pedigrees ‘Double J’ just to ensure Joyce is not victorious. Boo!
6. Artur Beterbiev
Bearded knockout king showcases his Ric Flair-esque ability to bleed profusely and keep on competing. Doesn’t even seem to notice when he’s eliminated and just keeps pile-driving people like he’s Zangief from Street Fighter on the outside. Brutal.
5. Naoya Inoue
‘The Monster’ has KO power and a perfect pro-wrestling nickname but if you think the WWE is going to let a small, technically brilliant, hipster-fan-favourite from Japan win the Rumble then you have another thing coming. Exits fifth and the boxing hardcore tear up their tickets.
4. Oleksandr Usyk
Very feeling it. Comes out wild-eyed, dancing in his underpants to pump up the capacity crowd. Size and skills take him far, until he gets Belly-flopped off the top rope by one sneaky rival. Agonisingly close but no cigar for the hugely over Ukrainian powerhouse.
3. Canelo Alvarez
With his garish D&G pyjamas and iron jaw, this popular babyface is a pro-wrestling dream who comes close to adding his PPV drawing power to the main event of BoxingMania 2023. Unfortunately the red-haired luchador’s Rumble ends when he runs into our no.2.
2. Dimitry Bivol
Stone-faced Russian is equally underestimated and immovable, showing masterful ring generalship to make it through to the final two… only to be undone by his final opponent’s size (and a mysterious mariachi guitar cracking him over the head from the outside).
1. Tyson Fury
Has the size, WWE experience and fiery promos to go all the way. ‘The Gypsy King’ is slippery in the ring and no rival can get a handle on his lovehandles to throw him over the rope. The winner! Start up the ‘American Pie’… hang on, who’s that masked Ukrainian creeping up behind Fury with the chair?
- ‘Heel’ Jake Paul goes out early, Mike Tyson gets biggest cheer, Anthony Joshua bundled over top rope and Tyson Fury outlasts Oleksandr Usyk and Floyd Mayweather
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