Prospect Watch – End of Year Special
By Liam Lawer
Whatever your thoughts on the state of boxing in 2018, it is hard to deny that this ancient sport continues to regenerate with emerging and exciting talent year after year. We have been treated to some of them on our television screens already, but they aren’t always found under the bright lights, propping up our biggest shows.
Some are toiling away on the small hall scene, waiting for their big break. Some are whispered about amongst local trainers who think they have found a gem. Across the continents, an array of fresh fighters are proving the future looks fun. Perhaps it will be a boxer from Antarctica vying for our attention in 2019, made strong by the frosty winds and sub-zero conditions out there… Anyway, here we will look at some of the very best up and comers that we do know of, before finally revealing the winner of this highly coveted prize: FightPost’s Prospect to watch out for in 2019.
We have already covered three British fighters in this fledgling series: Brad Pauls, Ekow Essuman and Ukashir Farooq. All have shown great potential early in their careers, and look to kick on this coming year. But of course, there are others UK based fighters worth your attention.
Our 2016 crop of Olympians have largely impressed so far, with Josh Kelly, Joshua Buatsi, and Joe Joyce perhaps leading the pack, though Lawrence Okollie has so far achieved the most.
A mention also to Joe Cordina, seemingly further under the radar, who nevertheless looked promising with a comprehensive win over Shaun Dodd in August. Anthony Fowler meanwhile has shown thudding power, but his opposition has been somewhat lacking in comparison. Other Brits to look out for include Sam Bowen and Akeem Ennis Brown, exciting talents sure to make future editions of Prospect Watch. Keep an eye out in upcoming weeks for these and many more.
Across the pond there are a host of North and South American talent wanting to prove that the pool over there is never dry. Ryan Garcia, despite his preening and posturing, has shown a fighter’s heart to match his prodigious skill. Make no mistake, the pretty boy packs a punch. With less social media presence but no less promise, the likes of Brandan Figueroa, Devin Haney, and my personal favourite, Jaron Ennis, all have bright futures if they can keep progressing at their current rates. Canada may have a diamond in Erik Bazinyan, and Mexico’s Diego De La Hoya is another standout. If he is half as good as his cousin, he’ll be a delight to cover in 2019.
Testament to the global appeal of boxing, there have been a rise of prospects all over the planet, with names Western audiences may find long or difficult. We better be prepared to learn them. Uzbekistan have a raft of promising upstarts, headed by the double act of Qudratillo Abduqaxorov and Azizbek Abdugofurov.
Russia based Tajikistani, Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov has shown a blend of skill and power so far, and will surely take a step up in the coming year. Finally, as always, there is a tsunami of precocious Japanese youngsters who look set to take over the boxing world. Takuma Inoue fits the same bill as Andrew Selby, a fighter who has progressed so quickly it is hard to call them a prospect, and he looks on the verge of winning major honours. To round it off, Hinata Murata may still live up to his early promise, at 21 he has room to grow and 2019 might just provide that development.
Before we come to the end, a nod to the women too, where most of the champions can still conceivably be classed as prospects. Clarissa Shields, at 23 and with just 8 fights, is on the way to becoming one of the greatest ever. To get there, she’ll have to start stopping her outclassed opponents, or the tag won’t stick. Not far off title level is our own Chantelle Cameron, a fierce fighter who has brought the excitement not always found in the championship fights. Next year will be a big one for the North-Star.
But there can only be one…
Backflipping and fortnite-ing to the catchy title of Prospect to watch out for in 2019, Brooklyn’s rising lightweight prodigy Teofimo Lopez. Already the recipient of the Ring Magazine’s similar trophy, Lopez has earned it with a fantastic year, dominating the solid William Silva before a frightening round one devastation of Mason Menard. The Rio Olympian, robbed in his first round to the eventual runner up, has shown about as much weakness as he has shown class in the ring – virtually none. Despite his showboating antics, will which only garner more attention, his fighting ability and power also make him stand out.
At just 21 years old, the ceiling on this kid is scary, so long as the pitfalls of money and fame don’t ensnare him before his prime. Expect him to be a title contender by the end of the year. He’s just that good.