For the sport of boxing, 2017 has been a great year so far. We’ve been treated to some phenomenal fights as well as a couple of flops. Joshua versus Klitschko was a fight that far surpassed many expectations, leaving all of the fans (that I have talked to anyways) excited and pleased with the dance of the giants. Canelo versus Chavez Jr. was a little less thrilling, as it was an easy win for Canelo, but has walked us to the upcoming super fight between he and Golovkin. The rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev is just on the horizon, and promises fireworks between two of the pound for pound best fighters on Earth. A few upsets have also come our way this year, most notably Roman Gonzalez’s defeat to Wangek (Sor Rungvisai). With so much hustle and bustle in nearly every division, even the most passionate of fans will have trouble keeping track of the top dogs, let alone the up and coming prospects. Worry not though, I’ll give you some insight on a few prospects to get your mouthwatering and help you get through Friday!
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0 11KO)– Gvozdyk has a decorated amateur career, fighting in the Olympic Games for the Ukraine. This experience has translated into a professional style that tantalizes both the fans who watch for violence, and the fans who watch for technical prowess. Gvozdyk employs a solid defense rooted deeply in boxing basics, fights behind a strong jab, and uses precise power to finish his opponents off. He is currently riding a 7-fight knockout streak in the Light-Heavyweight Division, made more impressive by the face that his last two opponents (Isaac Chilemba [24-4-2 10KO] and Yunieski Gonzalez[18-2 14KO]) had never been stopped before. In 2016, he fought 4 times, showing that he is willing and able to stay busy fighting quality opposition. While he still hasn’t fought that top, world class opponent, he has a few gatekeeper level wins on his record (all wins by knockout no less). If you have an opportunity, take a peak at his fight vs. Chilemba (or at least the highlight real) to see the technical skills he uses. Keep a watch on him as he moves up the rankings and (hopefully) secures a title shot in the near future.
Jesse Magdaleno (25-0 18KO)– I’m pleased to see the spotlight starting to shine more on the lower weight divisions recently, they often don’t get their dues. The 25-year old Magdaleno falls into that category. He ended 2016 in fantastic fashion, winning a fight which he entered as the (slight) underdog against former pound-for-pound contender and 2012 Fighter of the Year award winner Nonito Donaire (37-3 24KO). So far, he has fought once in 2017 (beating Adeilson Dos Santos[18-2 14KO] by knockout) successfully defending the WBO Super-Bantamweight Title he won from Donaire. This kid is young, hungry, fast and entertaining. Keep an eye on him!
David Benavidez (18-0 17KO)– I can’t express how impressed I was watching Benavidez fight Rogelio Medina (37-7 31KO) last month. Leading up to the fight, I thought he was just a hype job with an inflated record that was going to get steamrolled by Medina, who is decent quality competition. Medina fought for a world title in 2016, and made a fantastic showing giving the champion all he could handle. He did not have the same showing against Benavidez, who systematically picked apart Medina’s defense until knocking him out in the 8th round. Benavidez fights with power in both hands, impressive combination punching and a steady offense. His only lapse is a defense that at times seems to rely solely on reaction time, which could end badly for him against elite opposition with fast hands. In the meantime, he is very impressive and fun to watch!
Are there any prospects that pass your eye test? Let me know on Twitter @TheGreatToddman or email me at PugilistsParadise@columnist.com .