- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Heavyweight Denis Boytsov is sort of like the Russian version of American Deontay Wilder: glittering undefeated record and tons of knockouts, but a woefully weak resume that shows one low-level opponent after another.
Boytsov (33-0, 26 KOs), nonetheless, has been ridiculously placed No. 1 in the WBO's woeful rankings, meaning he could wind up as champion Wladimir Klitschko's next mandatory opponent. Never mind that Boytsov's best win is probably a near-shutout decision against long-faded contender Dominick Guinn in 2012.
So with Boytsov, 27, so close to a title shot, he and his handlers are taking no risks whatsoever when he returns on Nov. 23 in Bamberg, Germany for his first fight since signing with German promoter Sauerland Event.
Boytsov, whose career has had several stops and starts due to his persistent hand problems, is scheduled to face 34-year-old Australian journeyman Alex Leapai (29-4-3, 24 KOs) on the undercard of cruiserweight titleholder Yoan Pablo Hernandez's mandatory defense against Alexander Alekseev. Boytsov and his people will talk about it being a dangerous fight and all that, but it shouldn't be.
"At the moment I don't think about the fact that a win over Leapai will lead to a world title shot," said Boytsov, who lives in Berlin. "It is all about my next fight. I need to be victorious in Bamberg. Afterwards, I can take it from there."