Boxing's Top Ten "Must See" Prospects For 2010

December 31, 2009

As we look back at the end of 2009 and usher in a new calendar year, it is appropriate to take a look forward at some of the top young prospects to watch in the fight game in 2010.

Each year a number of rising fighters make the jump from prospect to contender, and the past couple of years are no exception. Recent young fighters who have successfully made such a transition include Cristobal Arreola, Andre Berto, Andre Ward, Juan Manuel Lopez, and Alfredo Angulo, among others.

Conversely, each year there are also those considered "can't miss" prospects who fail to live up to the hype and succumb to high expectations.

Then there are those, such as Britain's Amir Khan, who have been on both sides of the fence - at first, highly touted; then roundly dismissed; and finally, becoming a "must see" fighter once again.

To qualify as a "prospect" for the purposes of this article, a fighter must be no older than age 25. Thus, top-flight boxers such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Breidis Prescott, and the aforementioned Angulo and Berto will not be included on this list, as they are already older than 25.

It should also be noted that once a fighter has reached the level of fighting for legitimate championship recognition, he obviously can no longer be considered a prospect. Hence, boxers such as Ward, Berto, and Khan will not qualify for this list.

So without further adieu, here is the DSH's Top 10 Prospects for 2010:

Omar Henry 7-0 (6 KOs)

At the moment, Henry is probably best known for famously turning down the chance to serve as chief sparring partner for current DSH Pound-for-Pound Kingpin Manny Pacquiao prior to his title bout with Miguel Cotto.

No doubt Henry was personally tabbed by Pac Man trainer Freddie Roach due to his fighting style, which bears an uncanny resemblance to his Puerto Rican countryman - and hero - Cotto.

While most up-and-coming prospects would have jumped at the opportunity for such a trial-by-fire baptism, the 22 year-old Henry had a very good reason to decline Team Pacquiao's offer, as Henry is a serious full-time student in his adopted hometown of Houston.

The humble and well-spoken Henry, fighting out of Houston's famous Willie Savannah gym, finished a stellar amateur career with an impressive record of 60-5, including four Texas Golden Gloves championships and two Texas US Championships. He also earned the Outstanding Boxer award in 2007.

Since turning pro in July of 2008, Henry has compiled a 7-0 record as a pro, reeling off an impressive string of highlight-reel knockouts in which he has stopped all but one of his opponents in the first round.

Henry is currently under the Top Rank Promotional banner, and with his exciting, ferocious, and crowd-pleasing style, fans should continue to keep an eye on this thoughtful and humble Boricua boxer out of the Lone Star State.

There is no doubt that young Omar Henry is a future star in the 154-pound division, and one who should be a household name in the years to come.

Shaun "Showtime" Porter 12-0 (10 KOs)

With quite a few stylistic similarities to the above-mentioned Henry, Porter is another exciting young lion, but with slightly more experience.

It's been said that one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and that certainly seems to be the case with Shaun Porter. When the aforementioned Henry declined Team Pacquiao’s sparring invitation, Porter seized the opportunity, accepting the invitation and traveling to the Phillipines to rumble with Manny on a daily basis.

Even before this assignment, however, the diminutive Porter was considered one of the more exciting junior middleweight prospects in the world today due to his explosive punching ability.

Porter had an extremely busy 2009, fighting 9 times and then "pausing" to spar with Pacquiao in preparation for his bout with Miguel Cotto.

Now Porter could be the beneficiary of yet another career opportunity within his weight class, since James "Mandingo" Kirkland currently remains incarcerated in Texas and is no longer terrorizing the 154-pound division. As such, it shouldn't be too long before this smallish, yet indomitable young whirlwind out of Akron, Ohio, is vying with Henry to become “the man” at this oft-forgotten weight.

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez 30-0 (22 KOs)

Although still only 19 years old, Alvarez has already been a pro boxer for nearly 5 years.

"Canelo," as he is fondly known by his already-considerable fan base, has not only the appealing fighting style and machismo to make him a superstar, but also the all-important "skills to pay the bills."

Those skills include a mix of better-than-advertised defense and sneaky hand speed, along with an absolute sledgehammer of a right hand. When viewed altogether, those attributes should propel Alvarez in his campaign toward continued stardom and a world title.

"Vicious" Victor Ortiz 25-2-1 (20 KOs)

Despite suffering a stunning TKO loss last year to the then-unheralded Marcos Maidana of Argentina, Ortiz is still considered by most knowledgeable fight observers to be a legitimate and exciting prospect on the rise.

Ortiz certainly started 2009 on the right track, making short work of former title contender "Mighty" Mike Arnaoutis by stopping him in just 2 lopsided rounds.

Ortiz also appeared to be well on his way to another impressive stoppage victory in his subsequent bout against Maidana for the interim WBA title belt, but wound up being stopped himself - some would argue quitting - in the 6th round of an unpredictable and thoroughly crowd-pleasing brawl.

Following this setback, the Golden Boy-promoted Ortiz already has salvaged some of what he lost, as he returned in December to stop tough veteran Antonio Diaz after 6 rounds.

Although there is no blueprint for regaining his "sure thing" label, look for the well-spoken and intelligent 22 year-old to show fans in 2010 why he was considered by Oscar De La Hoya to be a "can't-miss kid."

Should Ortiz need an example to follow, however, he need look no further than newly crowned WBA Junior Welterweight Champ Amir Khan. Khan has already exorcised all of his demons after suffering a shocking 1st round KO defeat, as he has won four consecutive fights, including one recent highlight reel 1st round stoppage of Dmitry Salita.

Although some might question how Ortiz could still be considered a prospect since he has already fought for world title belts, the reality is that these alphabet soup "title" belts (namely, the WBO, WBA, NABO, and USBA) are merely trinkets used by the respective organizations to legitimize their true intentions - the collection of money through sanctioning fees taken from fighters.

Since Ortiz has yet to fight anybody that would legitimately be considered a true World Champ, he still falls under our classification as a prospect.

Antonio "Tony" De Marco 23-1-1 (17 KO)

Tony de Marco is yet another in a long line of tough, gritty, and surprisingly skilled fighters to come out of the Los Mochis, Sinaloa region of Mexico.

The 23 year-old, 5'10" lightweight prospect has already put his crowd-pleasing southpaw style on display in impressive stoppage victories over Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov, and fellow prospects Juan Castaneda Jr. and Anges Adjaho.

We will see quite soon just where young De Marco stands in the lightweight title picture, as he will be getting his first real test at the world-class level when he takes on undefeated Edwin Valero (26-0, 26 KO's) of Colombia on February 6th. At stake will be Valero's 135-pound WBC title.

It should be quite an interesting affair, and should tell us quite a bit more about each combatant.

"Swift" Danny Garcia 15-0 (10 KO)

Golden Boy's Danny Garcia has already been pegged by many in the know as the future of the 140-pound division, and perhaps the 147-pound division as well.

Far from just the typical rough and rugged Philly fighter, the 21 year-old Garcia is blessed with lightning quick hand speed, great balance and footwork, and like many fighters out of the Illadelph, a lethal lefthook capable of abruptly ending fights.

Although he has been getting quality exposure fighting on high-profile cards under the Golden Boy banner, Garcia has wisely been brought along slowly in terms of his level of competition. Nevertheless, expect a big 2010 from Garcia, as he aims to break onto the world scene and eventually challenge for a title at 140.

Andy Lee 20-1 (14 KO)

One of the biggest enigmas in boxing, this 25 year-old southpaw from Limerick, Ireland, now fights out of Detroit's Kronk Gym under the tutelage of Manny Steward.

Once considered to be the proverbial “can't miss” prospect due in no small part to his considerable physical gifts, the athletic Lee stands a full six feet and two inches tall, and is a true middleweight who has spent his entire career at 160.

In addition, Lee’s style would seem to be problematic to most top-tier fighters, as he is a fluid and skilled boxer, with good ring generalship and decent pop out of his southpaw stance. When Steward successfully coaxes Lee to fully utilize his piston-like left jab and laser-sharp straight left hand, he is indeed dangerous.

Nevertheless, despite his Kronk pedigree, Lee has one head-scratching blemish on his career ledger - a TKO loss to Brian Vera.

That being said, Lee has bounced back nicely since that setback, going 5-0 with 2 KO's against decent competition. Then again, that should not be surprising since it is said that he gives just as good as he gets in sparring sessions with his fellow Kronk stablemates, including cruiserweight Jonathan Banks, and remarkably, both Klitschko brothers.

However, the real test for the 25 year-old Lee will occur when he steps up to take a shot against the elite foes within his own division, such as current 160-pound king Kelly Pavlik.

Danny Jacobs 18-0 (15 KO)

Another middleweight worth watching is Danny Jacobs. Despite having turned pro only two short years ago, the self-proclaimed "Golden Child" out of Brownsville, Brooklyn, seems to have been in the spotlight for years.

Jacobs fought an impressive 12 times in 2008, almost exclusively on Golden Boy Promoted cards. However, in 2009, his pace was slowed considerably from his fight-a-month 2008, as he sustained a tendon injury to his left hand that required surgery. Hence, he was "only" able to notch 5 fights.

Jacobs has certainly encountered more criticism than any 22 year-old, 18-0 prospect should merit. That criticism stemmed mainly from his failure to quickly get rid of game, yet clearly outclassed opposition such as Emmanuel Gonzalez and Michael Walker.

However, such tougher-than-expected fights can be very beneficial to a young fighter such as Jacobs. This certainly appeared to be the case when he was able to grind out an ugly, yet effective recent decision win over the wily Ishe Smith.

Jacobs possesses many of the requisite tools to build a champion: good size at 6'1"; good ring generalship and smarts for his age; good toughness and a willingness to mix it up; and superb conditioning and heart.

That being said, Jacobs still has shown some deficiencies in his defense, as he tends to get hit far too often. Against a heavy-handed middleweight like Pavlik, this could prove to be the Golden Child's undoing.

Only time will tell how far along Jacobs is in his development, but with Golden Boy Promotions announcing that they have big things in store for Mr. Jacobs in 2010, expect to see his first real test(s) on the elite, world-class level.

Vanes Martirosyan 26-0 (17 KO)

This Freddie Roach-trained, 23 year-old rising junior middleweight prospect has already fought for a couple of lightly-regarded sanctioning body trinkets. Now he appears primed for a big 2010.

His scheduled bout against former two-time world titlist Kassim Ouma should be a good indicator of just where the Glendale-based Armenian is in his progression towards challenging for a legitimate world title.

Martirosyan already possesses the kind of skills, matinee-idol good looks, and charismatic appeal that make him both a matchmakers and a marketers’ dream. Now the only thing left will be for him to prove that he is indeed ready for "primetime.”

David Lemieux 20-0 (20 KO)

Despite owning a perfect record of 20 wins with 20 knockouts, 21 year-old David Lemieux has not been a highly discussed fighter in most boxing circles, except in his native Quebec.

A likely cause of this relative obscurity is that young Lemieux has yet to box outside of fight-crazy Montreal.

This could change at some point in 2010, but don't be surprised if Lemieux continues to be brought along slowly, as he has a solid and smart team supporting him. Lemieux is part of the spectacular stable of Montreal boxers fighting under the Group Yvon Michel banner.

With good power in both hands and a knack for finishing off opponents, Lemieux's last 5 fights have gone a total of 12 rounds. In addition, his good ring generalship and surprisingly sharp skills should make this youngster a future force to be reckoned with in the world middleweight scene.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

1 comment:

  1. vanes is the truth. he proved that in his last fight.


We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...