Who was the best prospect in boxing in 2013?
It's easy to get down on the current state of boxing. But when you look at the future of the sport, and some of the young fighters on their way up through the ranks, you'll see that there's actually plenty to be eager and excited about. Which prospect is the best of the whole bunch, though?
2013 Prospect of the Year: Vasyl Lomachenko
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you decide to switch from the amateur ranks to the professional side. Vasyl Lomachenko is a two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist, and two-time world amateur champion. Winner of the Val Barker Trophy as the best boxer at the 2008 Olympics, he was a runner-up for the award at the 2012 London Olympics. Amateur record: 396-1.
So why in the world would somebody like that turn pro and then spend three or four years fighting tomato cans in bouts schedule for four or six rounds? Why is that the norm?
Lomachenko turned the notion on its side by fighting the 25-3 Jose Ramirez in his first pro fight, and stopping him in 4 rounds, in a fight scheduled for 10 with a regional title strap at stake.
We think so highly of him here at ProBoxing-Fans.com, that we have him in the top 10 of the featherweight division after one fight. You think that's wrong? Would you honestly pick Billy Dib to defeat him? Daud Yordan? Elio Rojas? I wouldn't.
Vasyl Lomachenko is our 2013 Prospect of the Year because his talent is off the charts, his pedigree and skill are both as lofty as it gets, and most importantly of all, he has the balls to act like it, quit the BS we suffer through with so many other top prospects, and step right into the fray as a pro.
2nd Best Prospect of the Year: Felix Verdejo
The undefeated Puerto Rican sensation finishes 2013 with a 9-0 record, with 6 KOs. He kept a nice, busy schedule in the year, fighting eight times, and gradually shifting from designated losers to a higher caliber of opponent (still guys brought in to lose, but hey, at least with winning records) in his last two outings.
If you've seen Verdejo fight, featured on several big-fight undercards, you've seen the makings of a potential superstar. Great speed and athleticism, strong technical ability, and a diverse offensive arsenal with real firepower.
Puerto Rico doesn't have any world champions right now. But you can bet that Verdejo will have a title strap around his waist in the future.
More Top Prospects from 2013
- Zou Shiming: The Chinese Olympic legend fought three times in 2013. The switch to a professional style seemed to slow him down at first, but looked more refined in his 3rd outing. Since he has billions of potential fans and an entire marketplace behind him, we'll be seeing much more of him in 2014.
- Jose Pedraza: 15-0 with 10 knockouts, Pedraza, like Verdejo, is a fighter that you can bank on to end Puerto Rico's title drought. He's farther along in his career than Verdejo is, turning back the likes of Gabriel Tolmajyan as one of his four victories in 2013.
- Oscar Molina: Molina turned pro in January, and fought eight times this year, finishing his campaign with an 8-0 record with 7 stoppages. A Mexican Olympian and former youth world champion, from a strong boxing family, the 23-year-old Molina appears to be the real deal.
- Francisco Vargas: At 18-0-1 with 13 KOs, Vargas fought four times in 2013. His most impressive performances were his last two, wide, shutout style decisions over the previously unbeaten Brandon Bennett, and fellow prospect Jerry Belmontes.
- Ivan Redkach: The Ukrainian lightweight doesn't have the background of his lofty countryman, Lomachenko, but he's a powerful fighter who's looking to break out in 2014. Has a Shobox fight scheduled for January against 17-1 Tony Luis which will offer him that chance. Currently stands at 15-0, 13 KOs.
- Dusty Hernandez-Harrison: The Washington, D.C., product has a 19-0 record with 11 KOs, and fought eight times in 2013. His biggest outing yet was an undercard showcase in November at Madison Square Garden, when he easily won a decision against Josh Torres in a 10-round fight.
- Ryota Murata: Japanese middleweight and Olympic gold medal winner, Ryota Murata didn't begin his pro campaign until the end of August this year. But he's not playing it overtly safe, either. Fought two real pros, 21-7 Akio Shibata and 13-1 Dave Peterson in his first two fights, and picked up two KO victories.
- Paul Butler: The Baby Faced Assassin from the U.K., Butler sports a 14-0 mark with 7 stoppage victories. Fought five times in 2013, including impressive showings against 17-0 Miguel Gonzalez and 12-1-1 Ruben Montoya, winning wide decisions in each case.