Tired of hearing about the decline and death of boxing? How about the constant gripe that all of the sport’s greatest stars are in their late 30s and early 40s? The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of young lions ready to take the place of the established stars.
Here are ten outstanding young fighters who are quickly making their way to the top of the sport and, best of all, have yet to even reach their physical and professional primes:
Adrien Broner (25-0, 21 KOs), Age: 23
“The Problem” is already a two-division world champion and is being regarded as one of the sport’s top young talents. His recent total domination of defending WBC lightweight champ, Antonio DeMarco, has put Broner on the path to stardom and a talent-heavy 135-140 lb. weight range awaits. If the charismatic boxer can keep focused and active, there’s no reason to doubt his ability to eventually become a top two or three pound-for-pound fighter.
Saul Alvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs), Age: 22
Alvarez, the defending WBC world junior middleweight champion, has taken his fair share of criticism for his well-paved path to glory and some less-than-stellar title challenges recently. But take away the world title belt and you’ll find a talented young talent developing into a well-rounded star. “El Canelo” has been fairly protected up until now– as most young prospects are– but every indication is that he wants to take a major step up in competition this coming year.
Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs), Age: 24
The WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion has firmly established himself as one of the top fighters in the sport with recent wins over Amir Khan, Erik Morales, and Kendall Holt. The Philadelphia native has surprised more than a few experts by fighting his way to the top of the stacked 140 lb. division. Next up for Garcia will be a defense against former two-division world champ, Zab Judah in February.
Tyson Fury (19-0, 14 KOs), Age: 24
At 6′ 9″, Fury definitely makes for an imposing figure to someday challenge one of the Klitschko brothers. Still needing some world class experience before going for either Klitscho, Fury is developing at a nice pace and has put away some solid regional talent. On December 1, Fury takes his first step on to the world stage when he faces “Kingpin” Kevin Johnson. If victorious, Johnson will be added to a growing resume of conquered opposition that includes fighters like Dereck Chisora and Martin Rogan.
Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1, 13 KOs), Age: 24
A joy to watch for hardcore fans, Mexico’s Santa Cruz displays perfect technique and a level of ring composure well beyond his age. Already the defending IBF bantamweight champ, “Terremoto (Earthquake)” will find plenty of challenges in the 118-122 lb. weight range.
Miguel Angel Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs), Age: 24
Calm, cool, and collected, Garcia picks his opponents apart before lowering the boom. Wins over Bernabe Concepcion and Matt Remillard have earned “Mikey” a January world title shot at old school, veteran WBO featherweight champ, Orlando Salido.
George Groves (15-0, 12 KOs), Age: 24
Best known for his win over long-time rival and Olympic gold medalist, James DeGale, Groves has come along slowly in his development as a top super middleweight. On December 15, the fighter from London takes a step up in class when facing veteran road warrior, Glen Johnson.
Javier Fortuna (20-0, 15 KOs), Age: 23
The native of the Dominican Republic is still a relative unknown, but recent dominant wins over Miguel Roman, Yuandale Evans, and Cristobal Cruz should mark him as one of the sport’s future stars. Fortuna will take his first step toward a world title when he faces Patrick Hyland for the interim WBA World featherweight title on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard.
Kazuto Ioka (10-0, 6 KOs), Age: 23
Already a two-belt world champ, the ten-fight pro from Japan rules over the strawweight division as its consensus top fighter. With plenty of career ahead of him, Ioka will continue to try and defend his WBC and WBA world titles and, possibly, look to annex a third or fourth belt along the way.
Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs), Age: 24
At first sight, South Africa’s “Tommy Gunn” appears to be a run of the mill regional talent hyped to the nth degree by a nationalistic home-country media. On second look, though, Oosthuizen has some solid skills and the growing ring record to prove it. Although nothing Earth-shattering, the young super middleweight’s resume includes wins over fighters like William Gare, Aaron Pryor Jr., and Fulgencio Zuniga.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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