• Thu. Oct 6th, 2022

Boxing’s top 25 under 25: Who’s No. 1?

BySwanzi010

Sep 20, 2022

8:43 AM ET

Devin Haney is the undisputed lightweight champion, after defeating George Kambosos Jr. to win all four major belts in June. The 23-year-old also has earned victories over Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Jorge Linares and Yuriorkis Gamboa, making him the man at the top of our annual top 25 fighters under 25.

Behind Haney is Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, 22, who jumped into stardom just this year, with dominating victories over former champions Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai to win the WBC junior bantamweight title. On Saturday, Rodriguez scored another impressive victory to make him 3-0 for the year so far.

The top 10 is packed with talent, including Vergil Ortiz, Ryan Garcia, Xander Zayas, Sebastian Fundora and Isaac Cruz. Gabriela Fundora and Yamileth Mercado are two of the rising stars in the women’s ranks and find themselves inside the top 20.

Former two-division champion and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr., unified lightweight champion Mikaela Mayer, boxing writers Mike Coppinger, Nick Parkinson, Ben Baby and Michael Rothstein, boxing analysts Crystina Poncher and ESPN boxing editor Andres Ferrari offer up their picks for the future of the sport.


1. Devin Haney (28-0, 15 KOs)

Lightweight undisputed champion

23 years old
2021 rank: No. 3

The fighter: Haney possesses a unique blend of athletic ability, sharp technique and ring smarts that belies his 23 years and earned him the top spot in the rankings. Already, he’s on the cusp of the pound-for-pound list. He owns one of the best jabs in the sport and is also one of boxing’s best defensive fighters.

Biggest moment: Haney became the undisputed lightweight champion after he collected all four 135-pound belts with a rout of George Kambosos Jr. in June in Australia. Haney, who fights out of Las Vegas, deserves extra credit for winning in such dominant fashion thousands of miles away in the champion’s backyard. The career-best victory followed a breakthrough campaign in 2021 with victories over former champions Jorge Linares and Joseph Diaz Jr.

Future outlook: It’s doubtful the Oct. 15 rematch vs. Kambosos will go much differently. And if Haney is able to sit down on his punches more, a victory inside the distance would deliver a big statement ahead of a pivotal 2023. He could launch himself into a high-stakes showdown with former pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko next year, provided the Ukrainian fighter defeats Jamaine Ortiz on Oct. 29. Until then, Haney must find a way to top his performance against Kambosos this summer in a return bout that figures to present little intrigue, the sort of matchup in which the young fighter must avoid a letdown. — Coppinger


2. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs)

WBC junior bantamweight champion

22 years old
2021 rank: No. 17

The fighter: “Bam” has a strong argument for the No. 1 ranking as a fighter who has the look of a generational talent so far. The way Rodriguez shifts his feet to create punching angles is reminiscent of the great Manny Pacquiao, and as the competition stiffens, Bam seems to perform even better.

Biggest moment: The 22-year-old faced his toughest test yet — by far — and delivered an eye-opening performance, an eight-round TKO of longtime champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in June that showed off his excellent southpaw jab. The win was particularly impressive because Rodriguez was able to stop a man who isn’t far removed from victories over future Hall of Famers Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. He floored Rungvisai with a left hand in Round 7 and then finished him off with a barrage of punches in the following round.

Future outlook: The budding star, following a unanimous decision victory over Israel Gonzalez on Saturday, remains the front-runner for fighter of the year. He expressed a willingness last week to chase titles at 108 pounds or 112 pounds, but he could also remain at 115, where a future bout vs. the winner of Estrada-Roman Gonzalez 3 could await. Promoter Eddie Hearn plans for Rodriguez to fight a fourth time in 2022 with a bout on that Dec. 3 undercard. If Rodriguez can land a bout with either future Estrada or Gonzalez next year, he could find himself squarely among the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in short order. — Coppinger


3. Vergil Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs)

Welterweight contender

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 4

The fighter: The 24-year-old Ortiz is ESPN’s No. 4 welterweight and an emerging star in one of the most interesting divisions in boxing. His power is legitimate, and he is able to pivot his strategies on the spot whenever he’s in the ring.

Biggest moment: Since turning pro in 2018, Ortiz, of Dallas, has earned stoppages in all 19 of his fights. He has reached the eighth round only twice — in his past two fights — but took care of both of those opponents before reaching Round 10. While records don’t always mean everything, five of his past six wins have come against opponents with one or fewer losses.

Future outlook: There’s a lot of potential here. In the short term, there are a bunch of interesting fights that could happen for him in a young, competitive division. The expectation would be for him to fight for a title sooner than later, perhaps once the Terence Crawford-Errol Spence Jr. fight finally resolves itself. Ortiz — or Jaron Ennis — would make a ton of sense as the next high-level opponent for the winner of Crawford-Spence (or Crawford-Spence II if they have a rematch after the first fight). Ortiz should be a champion at some point soon. — Rothstein


4. Junto Nakatani (23-0, 18 KOs)

WBO flyweight champion

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 8

The fighter: The Japanese flyweight is only 24 but is already two years into a reign as WBO world champion. Only Julio Cesar Martinez, the WBC titleholder, stands ahead of him in ESPN’s flyweight rankings. The tall southpaw won the title in November 2020 but could be moving up to junior bantamweight.

Biggest moment: Nakatani has won three world title fights by stoppage, but his most recent opponent, Ryota Yamauchi, had only nine fights before falling to Nakatani in April. Defeating Puerto Rico’s Angel Acosta, a former WBO junior flyweight champion, by fourth-round stoppage in Tucson, Arizona, a year ago is perhaps Nakatani’s best moment.

Future outlook: Martinez or England’s Sunny Edwards, the IBF champion, would be high-profile opponents at flyweight for Nakatani, who must aim to box more outside of Japan if he is to become a global star and land the big fights (so far, he has just one fight outside of Japan). Nakatani is due to face Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (36-5-1, 25 KOs), of Mexico, on Nov. 1 in a 10-round junior bantamweight bout. Rodriguez was outpointed by Kazuto Ioka in a shot at the WBO junior bantamweight title a year ago and will be a good test for Nakatani. Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue, the undisputed world bantamweight champion, would be the dream fight for Nakatani. — Parkinson


5. Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs)

Junior welterweight contender

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 6

The fighter: Garcia’s appeal is unquestionable. He topped the inaugural ESPN Star Power Index and rebuilt his career momentum following a 15-month layoff with a stoppage victory over Javier Fortuna in July, which is one of his most impressive wins to date. For years, Garcia’s social media following has been his most notable asset. As he continues to improve under trainer Joe Goossen, he seems poised to keep climbing the ranks.

Biggest moment: Garcia, 24, of Victorville, California, recovered from an early knockdown to stop former lightweight title contender Luke Campbell in January 2021. Campbell, despite his age and that being the final bout of his career, remains the best opponent Garcia has faced.

Future outlook: A potential fight between Garcia and lightweight contender Gervonta “Tank” Davis, maybe at 140 pounds, remains one of the biggest fights in the sport. Garcia has clamored for that bout for months. If it happens, it could become one of the most lucrative matches in combat sports and is guaranteed to have significant mainstream appeal. — Baby


6. Sebastian Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KOs)

WBC interim junior middleweight champion

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 13

The fighter: “The Towering Inferno” has embodied the moniker thus far with some blistering performances featuring a whirlwind of punches delivered from seemingly all angles. Fundora is 6-foot-5½, 154 pounds, and his lanky frame has presented a puzzle that has proved impossible to solve so far.

Biggest moment: Never has Fundora looked more like a surefire future champion than in his most recent outing, a ninth-round TKO of former top prospect Erickson Lubin. Fundora, 24, proved his mettle after he took a knee in Round 7 for the knockdown only to rally for the stoppage two rounds later in a ferocious battle.

Fundora handed Lubin the sort of brutal beatdown that boxers often never recover from. Lubin emerged from the bout with a grotesquely swollen face and broken nose, proof of the sort of power Fundora generates from his freakishly long reach.

Future outlook: He returns Oct. 8 against Carlos Ocampo in a stay-busy bout before a 2023 campaign that hopefully lands him a shot at the undisputed championship vs. the winner of Jermell Charlo-Tim Tszyu. — Coppinger


7. David Morrell (7-0, 6 KOs)

WBA “regular” super middleweight champion

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 25

The fighter: The Minneapolis-based Morrell, who was born in Cuba, has had only seven professional fights but has already made two defenses of the WBA “regular” super middleweight title. Morrell holds the less prestigious WBA belt, with Canelo Alvarez in possession of all four of the world titles that matter at super middleweight. Morrell is still second tier in the 168-pound division, despite his rapid rise.

Biggest moment: Morrell impressed on his past outing, a fourth-round win over Kalvin Henderson in June. Morrell has done well to win the WBA’s secondary belt, but he has yet to be truly tested. However, an outstanding amateur record of 130-2, including international experience for Cuba, indicates Morrell undoubtedly has an exciting and successful professional career ahead of him. He also has built up a good fan base in Minneapolis and is a TV-friendly fighter.

Future outlook: A fight against the likes of Canelo would be a step too soon for Morrell, who would be better off trying his luck against David Benavidez, the former WBC champion, or Edgar Berlanga. At 6-foot-1, Morrell also has the potential to step up to light heavyweight in the future. — Parkinson


8. Jared Anderson (12-0, 12 KOs)

Heavyweight prospect

22 years old
2021 rank: No. 10

The fighter: Anderson is Top Rank’s second-most intriguing heavyweight after Tyson Fury, for whom Anderson serves as a sparring partner. The 22-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, has shown real power along with speed not always seen from heavyweights.

Biggest moment: Anderson is the newest addition to the ESPN divisional rankings, coming in at No. 10 after a second-round knockout of Miljan Rovcanin in August. He has won all of his fights by knockout, and with only 12 pro fights, he’s still growing.

Future outlook: He might be the heavyweight fighter with the most long-term intrigue since most of the top 10 is already over 30. He should fight for a title one day, although it might still be a few years off. Anderson and Daniel Dubois, who is 25, might become the next great heavyweight battle in the division — although that could be a few years down the road. — Rothstein


9. Xander Zayas (14-0, 10 KOs)

Junior middleweight prospect

20 years old
2021 rank: No. 19

The fighter: The Puerto Rican prospect is starting to show why Top Rank signed him when he was 16. He has rolled over opponents early in his career, winning 14 straight contests since he turned pro in October 2019. He has comfortably made the junior middleweight weight limit in his past five fights and definitely has plenty of room to fill out as he continues to get older.

Biggest moment: How about his whole career? Zayas, 20, has not dropped a single round on any official scorecard, which is a truly astounding feat. He literally has been perfect. Zayas recently graduated to eight-round contests and passed the most recent test — a fifth-round stoppage of Elias Espadas — with flying colors.

Future outlook: Zayas is on track to continue to make his way through the 154-pound division but is poised to one day become a player at 160. — Baby


10. Brandun Lee (26-0, 22 KOs)

Junior middleweight prospect

23 years old
2021 rank: No. 20

The fighter: The Californian usually does not need the judges, but his past two fights this year have both gone the distance. Lee was also knocked down for the first time in his most recent fight, a nontitle bout in August against Will Madera. Lee recovered to win by landslide scores, but he was caught a few times.

Biggest moment: Getting off the floor in the third round against Madera showed the Lee’s resilience, and he will have learned a lesson from the episode that he attributed to a loss of concentration. The Madera fight might not be a win Lee is particularly proud of, but it could turn out to be one of the key moments of his career if he can learn from it.

Future outlook: Lee has to work on his defense before closing in on the best at junior welterweight. He still has a bit of work to do and more experience to gain before he breaks into the world’s top 10 in that division. — Parkinson


11. Mauricio Lara (24-2-1, 17 KOs)

Featherweight contender

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 16

The fighter: Lara is widely considered to be one of the best featherweights in the world. Earlier in his career, he was an unknown fighter who mainly fought in his native Mexico. But over the past two years, he has become a prominent player in the 126-pound division.

Biggest moment: Lara, 24, shot to prominence when he upset Josh Warrington, the former IBF champion, in Warrington’s backyard of Leeds, England. Lara put Warrington down twice and eventually forced a stoppage in the ninth round. The rematch was a technical draw because of an accidental head-butt in the second round.

Future outlook: Lara, who was robbed of a chance to win the IBF belt because the Warrington bout was a nontitle fight, is still looking for a title opportunity. He was scheduled to face Leigh Wood for the WBA “regular” belt before an injury forced Wood to pull out of the bout scheduled for Sept. 24. — Baby


12. Keyshawn Davis (5-0, 4 KOs)

Lightweight prospect

23 years old
2021 rank: No. 23

The fighter: Davis looks like a special talent bound for titles in multiple weight classes. The 23-year-old has fought just five times in the pros but already made an impact with his killer instinct and combination punching.

Biggest moment: It’s yet to come in the pros, but Davis did capture an Olympic silver medal last summer. He happened to run into an excellent fighter in Andy Cruz, who defeated him to win gold.

Future outlook: A smooth boxer-puncher with excellent footwork, Davis is set to return Friday in another developmental fight vs. journeyman Omar Tienda Bahena. Top Rank will surely be patient with its prized prospect from Norfolk, Virginia, and if the company follows the blueprint used for Davis’ good friend Shakur Stevenson, Davis could challenge for a world title in 2024. — Coppinger


13. Isaac Cruz (24-2-1, 17 KOs)

Lightweight contender

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 24

The fighter: A hard-nosed fighter from Mexico, Cruz is a TV-friendly fighter who applies plenty of pressure and loves to mix it up. He seems to be gaining a foothold with the Mexican fans, too, as he continues to show off his power.

Biggest moment: Cruz announced his arrival in December when he faced Gervonta Davis, even though Cruz didn’t emerge victorious.

The 24-year-old’s toughness has never been questioned, but vs. Gervonta, “Pitbull” showed off the kind of relentless pressure that could lead him to a title victory in the near future. Cruz didn’t just charge toward “Tank”; he displayed an ability to cut off the ring and pin Davis on the ropes in uncomfortable positions. When Cruz did trap Davis, he wasn’t shy about letting his hands go in volleys that almost sprang him to the upset victory.

Future outlook: Since the defeat, Cruz has scored wins inside five rounds against Yuriorkis Gamboa and Eduardo Ramirez, proving to possess the sort of power that could make him dangerous at 135 pounds for a long time. A rematch with Davis seems likely, perhaps even in December. And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fight Ryan Garcia, too. — Coppinger


14. Charles Conwell (17-0, 13 KOs)

Junior middleweight prospect

24 years old
2021 rank: No. 15

The fighter: The 24-year-old from Detroit, who fights out of Cleveland, has a solid start to his career. Thirteen of his 17 victories have come via stoppage, including his past two fights. Conwell carries good power in both hands.

Biggest moment: Conwell has appeared on a couple of notable TV cards. He headlined one of the short-lived Ring City USA shows, stopping Madiyar Ashkeyev in the ninth round. Two fights later, he overwhelmed Juan Carlos Rubio on the Jake Paul-Tyron Woodley undercard and picked up a second-round TKO.

Future outlook: Conwell needs to start making better progress in his career. He has fought just three times since the start of 2021 and needs a bit more activity if he really wants to sustain some buzz. — Baby


15. Jesus Ramos (19-0, 15 KOs)

Junior middleweight prospect

21 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: Ramos is earmarked as one of Premier Boxing Champions’ top prospects. The undefeated junior middleweight has appeared on several pay-per-view undercards and taken care of whomever PBC has put in front of him. As Ramos has increased his competition level, the stoppages have dwindled. However, he’s still outpointing opponents and accelerating his trajectory.

Biggest moment: In February, Ramos, 21, of Casa Grande, Arizona, stopped Vladimir Hernandez to win a trinket WBC belt. It was a fairly competitive fight according to the scorecards before Ramos turned up the heat. He threw crisp punches, was able to find good angles out of a shoulder roll and forced the referee to stop the bout.

Future outlook: Ramos has been in 10-round fights since 2020. He has cleared some of the unnamed fighters who were in the ring to test him as he progressed through his career. It’s time for him to push his limits further and truly see how high his potential can be. — Baby


16. Michel Rivera (23-0, 14 KOs)

Flyweight prospect

24 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: A power-punching lightweight from the Dominican Republic, Rivera has steadily gained a reputation as a top-tier talent with a string of impressive performances.

Biggest moment: He turned heads with a spectacular KO of fellow prospect Jon Fernandez in 2021 but also owns decision wins over solid opposition like Ladarius Miller and, most recently, Joseph Adorno.

Future outlook: With 23 pro fights to his name, Rivera is clearly ready for a true litmus test at 135 pounds, and it could lead to a title fight for the Miami resident in 2023. — Coppinger


17. Gabriela Fundora (8-0, 4 KOs)

Women’s flyweight prospect

20 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: The 20-year-old younger sister of Sebastian Fundora has fought eight times in her first year-plus of being a professional. The flyweight from Coachella, California, is fighting again in October and is a matchup problem at her weight because of her height (5-foot-9) and reach (69 inches).

Biggest moment: Fundora has knocked out half of her opponents, including two of her past three. Her biggest win came against Nataly Delgado in January, but her father/trainer Freddy Fundora’s strategy is to keep her as busy as possible as she’s growing in the game — similar to the plan he had for Sebastian.

Future outlook: It’s tough to tell with a fighter this young, but she’s in a division where titles are a possibility sooner than later, and there’s an obvious end-game target of champion Marlen Esparza. With Fundora’s size, she’s also going to have the chance to move throughout divisions as she gets older. With the combination of her age and potential, there’s a future for her to be a multidivision champion by the time she’s in her mid-20s. Some of the more compelling future rivalries could be at junior bantamweight, where Micaela Lujan, Carla Merino and Taylah Robertson are all also under 25. — Rothstein


18. Richardson Hitchins (14-0, 6 KOs)

Junior welterweight prospect

24 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: The Brooklyn boxer has tidy skills and likes to outbox opponents rather than separate them from their senses. Hitchins, who represented Haiti at the 2016 Olympics, registered his first stoppage win in three years last May and is promoted by former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Biggest moment: Hitchins has perhaps moved too slowly in his career, but two wins since December 2021 suggest he could be about to gain momentum. A fourth-round stoppage win over Angel Rodriguez in May, after four successive, 10-round decision wins, was well needed.

Future outlook: Hitchins needs to be fighting more often, and that depends on the belief his promoter has in him. Hitchins would get more attention on him with more stoppage wins, but he remains a long way adrift from the best at 140 pounds. — Parkinson


19. Eduardo Hernandez (33-1, 30 KOs)

Junior lightweight contender

24 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: The heavy-handed 24-year-old has already had an eight-year professional career and is progressing toward a title shot after overcoming a career setback three years ago.

Biggest moment: “Rocky” stopped fellow Mexican prospect Jorge Mata Cuellar in five rounds in September, ending his countryman’s unbeaten record. Since being knocked out by Roger Gutierrez in a round in July 2019, Hernandez has resiliently rebuilt his career with five successive stoppage wins.

Future outlook: Gutierrez went on to briefly hold the world title after beating Hernandez, who would benefit from a rematch to try to put the only blemish on his record behind him. Hernandez is No. 4 in the WBC rankings, but a shot at WBC champion Shakur Stevenson would be risky in the next year. — Parkinson


20. Yamileth Mercado (19-3, 5 KOs)

Women’s WBC junior featherweight champion

24 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: The 24-year-old from Mexico has held the title since 2019. She’s a fighter who isn’t afraid of tough matchups and challenges as two of her three career losses have come in world title fights, including stepping up in weight to challenge Amanda Serrano for the WBC and WBO featherweight titles last year.

Biggest moment: She’s already a titleholder and is making her fourth title defense on Oct. 15 against Mariana Juarez, the former WBC bantamweight champion. Mercado, ESPN’s No. 2 junior featherweight, delivered knockouts in five of her 19 wins and has never been stopped. Beating Fatuma Zarika in 2019 for the WBC title — after losing a split decision to Zarika in Kenya the year before — helped set her on this path. She took some rounds off Serrano when they fought, which doesn’t always happen.

Future outlook: Mercado has shown a willingness to move through divisions, and considering the state of her current division — different fighters hold all belts — unification fights are in her near future. It’s easy to see a path for her to become the undisputed champion at 122 pounds and also moving up to 126 pounds, where she’s ESPN’s No. 4 fighter, and making real challenges there, too, once Serrano retires. She could easily be a future pound-for-pound top-5 fighter. — Rothstein


21. Phannarai Netisri (11-0, 5 KOs)

Women’s junior featherweight contender

22 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: The 22-year-old from Thailand who now lives in Germany is still largely unknown on the international stage because she has yet to fight outside Germany or the Czech Republic. But the junior featherweight has begun to make some real noise.

Biggest moment: Since turning pro in 2019, she has remained quite busy even during a pandemic, with 11 fights and five knockouts — already holding two minor world titles after beating Crystal Garcia Nova, whom she stopped in the fifth round of their fight in May.

Future outlook: A step up in competition would make the most sense for her — as she is likely trying to get a fight in the United Kingdom or the United States. She has been truly tested only once, a majority decision win over Cheyenne Hanson in 2021. So, finding her a good fight would make sense sooner than later. But the potential is there for her to be an eventual world champion. — Rothstein


22. Diego Pacheco (15-0, 12 KOs)

Super middleweight contender

21 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: A towering 168-pounder at 6-foot-4, Pacheco continues to be developed slowly by Matchroom Boxing; after all, he’s just 21 years old. Fighting out of L.A., Pacheco has gained attention for his power and his ability to place his shots, even if he does seem a bit methodical with his attack.

Biggest moment: Perhaps it was a highlight-reel KO of Rodolfo Gomez Jr. in 2020, but Pacheco’s best win came on Saturday on the undercard of Canelo-GGG III. In a step-up fight, Pacheco didn’t let his hands go until Round 5, but when he did, a right hand floored Enrique Collazo and a follow-up barrage finished him.

Future outlook: His past two fights were scheduled 10-rounders, a signal Matchroom is prepared to further raise his level of competition in 2023. If he continues to develop, a fight against a former champion isn’t out of the question for the end of next year.


23. Micaela Lujan (11-1-1, 3 KOs)

Women’s IBF junior bantamweight champion

23 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: The 23-year-old from Argentina has held the IBF junior bantamweight title for over a year while fighting primarily in Mexico and Argentina. She started fighting after she beat up a boy in a parking lot while doing her job guarding cars outside a supermarket. She was 12.

Biggest moment: Lujan has defended her IBF title twice — once in November against Delgado and in August against Irma Garcia. Her biggest win might have been against Debora Anahi Dionicius in 2019, when she won by majority decision. Dionicius had just lost her IBF junior bantamweight title by split decision, and Lujan beat her convincingly. Lujan was 19 at the time.

Future outlook: ESPN’s No. 4 junior bantamweight, Lujan’s future likely should be outside Argentina when it comes to fighting. She told ESPN earlier this year she would like to fight in the United States eventually — specifically Las Vegas — to gain the attention of bigger promoters and, hopefully, bigger fights. She’s in a division with a lot of young talent, so the potential for future rivalries is there. Her fellow countrywoman, Clara Lescurat, is the current WBA champion, so that might be the most sensible start if she were to fight again in Argentina. — Rothstein


24. Omar Aguilar (24-1, 23 KOs)

Junior welterweight prospect

23 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: Aguilar, 23, is a junior welterweight from Ensenada, Mexico, with the interesting nickname of “Pollo,” which means chicken in Spanish. Despite being 23, he has been fighting professionally for over a half-decade.

Biggest moment: In his 25 fights, he has 24 wins and 23 knockouts while fighting mostly in his home country. He has left Mexico to fight as a pro twice — beating Carlos Manuel Portillo last year in Tucson and losing a unanimous decision to Lindolfo Delgado in San Diego in August. The loss, Aguilar’s first as a pro, also snapped a 13-fight knockout streak for him.

Future outlook: It’s tough to say at this point because the top of his division is both young and probably more talented. That’s not a knock on Aguilar, but seeing guys like Davis, Lopez, Garcia, Taylor, Hitchins and Lee makes for a steep climb up the ranks. Aguilar should have a good career, but getting to a title might take time, patience and a bit of division maneuvering by himself and others. — Rothstein


25. Delante “Tiger” Johnson (5-0, 4 KOs)

Welterweight prospect

24 years old
2021 rank: Unranked

The fighter: A strong 147-pounder at 5-foot-11, Johnson represented the United States at the Olympics last summer but was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Since turning pro, he has displayed his power and smooth combination punching with four KOs in five fights.

Biggest moment: Tiger delivered a crushing knockout of Sebastian Gabriel Chaves in March, a performance that ensured he won’t be ignored when top prospects are discussed. He followed up with two more impressive KOs in May and August.

Future outlook: Top Rank has big plans for Johnson, a 24-year-old from Cleveland. With his large frame for the division and precision power punching, Johnson will benefit from another 18 months of seasoning before he reaches title contention in 2024. — Coppinger


Other fighters receiving votes: Troy Isley, Xavier Martinez, Jose Valenzuela, Raymond Ford, Sadriddin Akhmedov, Nico Ali-Walsh, Floyd Diaz, Justin Huni, Joey Spencer, Ramiro Cesena, John Bauza, Taylah Robertson, Abdullah Mason, Marc Castro, Joseph Adorno, Carl Jammes Martin, Ruben Torres, Adam Azim, Ellie Scotney, Niorkis Carreno, Oshae Jones, Summer Lynn.

Source : Sky.com

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