BoxNation's Glynn Evans scours the globe to unveil a fistful of fighters who should ‘break out’ on the world stage in 2016.
This monster hitting Ukrainian cruiser first embraced the Noble Art, aged 15, because equipment for soccer had become too expensive. Early indications from his pro career suggest he’ll soon have earned the necessary hryvnia to kit out the entire national league.
Known as ‘The Cat’, the 28 year old southpaw from the Crimea won 335 of 350 amateur spats en route to gold medals at the 2011 World Seniors and 2012 Olympics – where he scalped formidable Russian Artur Berterbiev and celebrated each victory with a Cossack jig, mid ring!
And since signing pro terms with the Klitschko Brothers’ K2 Promotions, the man with the moody barnet has demolished nine very credible and seasoned opponents before the allotted number of rounds. Already he is perched as mandatory contender to Poland’s WBO czar Krzysztof Glowacki.
Usyk shares his birthday with one Muhammad Ali and, at 6ft 3in tall and boasting a 78in wingspan, could one day replicate The Greatest as world heavyweight champion.
The great fighting nation of Mexico seldom delivers champions above the 147lb welterweight division but this 6ft 3in Sinoloa super-middle seems primed to buck that trend.
A pro at 18, the southpaw known as ‘Zurdo (Lefty)’ has already stormed to 33 successive wins with 24 victims tumbling early. His last three opponents brought combined stats of 80-6-1 yet all were trounced handsomely on the scorecards in educational 10 rounders.
(Photo credit: Top Rank)
In addition to bagging the WBC Youth title (seven successful defences) and a barrow load of minor belts, the 24 year old has thumped his way to top three world ratings with each of the four major sanctioning organisations.
Operating under the banner of Canelo Promotions, expect this quick, heavy-handed shot picker with a brutal body attack to make a mandatory challenge to WBO boss Arthur Abraham in 2016.
This vicious 5ft 7in featherweight from Sonora is far closer to your stereotypical Mexican ring warlord.
National amateur champion at just 17, Valdez became the first Azteca to box at two Olympics (Beijing and London) and, though he failed to make the podium at either, he delivered Mexico its first ever world championship medal in 2009, running Vasyl Lomachenko close in the semi-final.
Promoted by Top Rank, the 25 year old is skilful, exciting and explosive in equal measure and has already mastered the signatory Mexican left hook to the liver. Sixteen victims on his 18-0 slate failed to cross the finish line.
Now based in California where he is schooled by the well regarded Manuel Robles, and fluent in English after passing much of his childhood in Arizona, the WBO number one contender is set to renew his rivalry with champion ‘Loma’ for the world title next year.
Errol Spence Jr
The one shining beacon of an utterly woeful 2012 US Olympic Squad, this Texan who they call ‘The Truth’ has continued to radiate since vaulting to the pros under the banner of Al Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions in 2012.
Second generation Jamaican, the silky southpaw welter was inspired to box after being captivated by Lennox Lewis at the age of 15. In a singlet, he racked up a 135-12 CV and three national senior titles.
As a three fight novice, Spence famously left Floyd Mayweather Jr sporting a shiner during a 2013 spar and he is heavily rumoured to have ironed out the insufferable Adrien Broner in the gym. Loud applause for that!
Already 19-0 (16) and world ranked by all four sanctioning bodies, the smooth but spiteful starlet should debut in a world championship ring in 2016. Be wary Mssrs Brook and Khan!
This 22 year old punching panther from San Juan has soared to 19 successive wins and with each passing performance increasingly resembles Puerto Rican ring god Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad.
Dubbed ‘El Diamante (The Diamond)’, the cherubic lightweight has exquisite technique and scary power. Fourteen foes have fallen at his feet before the scheduled finish.
A teenage quarter-finalist at London 2012 (another to succumb to Lomachenko), the Boricua trousered a $600,000 signing fee to join the Top Rank roster. He has since sizzled before capacity crowds in PR and on several Miguel Cotto undercards in the US.
Humble, God fearing and fiercely patriotic, the pedigree pug appears to possess the royal flush of attributes required to evolve into a mainstream superstar.