The Top Prospect in Boxing in 2014:
The Prospect of the Year Award is always a fun one. It’s a way of giving ourselves a glimpse at boxing’s future. Who’s the breakout fighter that’s readying himself to become a household name? This year, one guy in particular stands out.
Boxing’s Best Prospect in 2014 – Felix Verdejo
Felix Verdejo, still just 21 years of age, improved his mark to 16-0 with 12 KOs during the year. He fought seven times during 2014, staying busy and slowly moving himself up the ladder. Six of his wins came via stoppage.
He’s campaigning at Lightweight right now, and clearly has the frame to continue moving up to higher weight classes. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him spend 2015 capturing a title at 135 lbs before thinking about joining the fray in the deeper Junior Welterweight division by the middle or end of 2016.
The busy schedule, the talent he’s shown and performances he’s put on, and the potential he has for the future, are what win him this award.
Additionally, some of our runner-ups have really graduated from prospect to contender status. They may have shined brightly during the year, but in the process they have put themselves into a strong position within their division, either ready to challenge for titles or directly on the cusp of that level. Therefore, they’re no longer “prospects” and can’t take home the award.
With that said…
Puerto Rico stays well represented in this list, with the additions of Jose Pedraza and Jose Lopez as Prospect of the Year runners-up. Pedraza is a fighter who outgrew his prospect status. He won an eliminator match against Michael Farenas, and is now in line to challenge for a Super Featherweight title. He fought four times in 2014, improving to 19-0, 12 KOs.
Lopez, the “Wonder Boy”, fought three times on the year, improving to 15-0 with 11 KOs. One of the key differentiators between Verdejo was therefore their comparative schedules, with Verdejo fighting more than twice as often.
Another fighter who has jumped from prospect to contender is Gilberto Ramirez. In a talent-laden Super Middleweight division, it’ll be quite fun to see what Ramirez gets into next year. Fighting four times in 2014, he’s now 30-0, 24 KOs.
Finally, I’d be remiss without mentioning Washington, D.C.’s own Dusty Hernandez-Harrison. He fought five times on the year to build his ledger to 24-0, with 13 KOs, and is on the fringe of that contender status.