Boxing’s Upcoming Stars

By Tom Donelson
Updated: February 15, 2009

Boxing GlovesIOWA CITY — HBO’s Max Kellerman noted some of the rising stars during the recent tripleheader and as he noted, the future is bright for boxing. Take the heavyweight division as Chris Arreolo represents America’s best hope for a future title.

In a division that has become essentially a province of Central Europeans and Russians; Arreolo brings that one quality that fans love in a heavyweight — the ability to knock people out.

With 23 knockouts in his first 26 fights, Arreolo has the skills to make the leap to contender and he may just have the goods to defeat Klitschko brothers. Just below him is British boxer-puncher David Haye, who’s attempting to repeat what Evander Holyfield did two decades earlier — make the jump from Cruiserweight to heavyweight.

Haye is a quick handed fighter who can knock out opponents with one punch and he demonstrated those qualities in his first heavyweight fight as he knocked out Monte Barrett. This summer, he may just get his chance against the bigger Wladimir Klitschko.

While Wladimir Klitschko has shown improvement under the tutelage of Emmanuel Steward, the one weakness that both Haye and Arreolo can expose is Klitschko’s chin as both fighters have the knock out power to stop Wladimir.

Just below the heavyweights is light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who has already captured a portion of the light heavyweight championship and with the retirement of Joe Calzaghe; may be the best light heavyweight fighter in the world now.

In the junior Middleweights, there are two prospects and one legitimate contender.

Alfredo Angulo showed his talent in his bout with Rivera but there is another big puncher that is ready to make his move; Texas James Kirkland. Trained by the great female fighter Ann Wolfe, Kirkland has won 24 straight fights and will be feature on a HBO card the first weekend in March.

Then there is Paul Williams, who will be fighting the veteran Winky Wright in April. Williams already showed that he belongs to the Welterweight elites when he dismantled Antonio Margarito.

Williams is one of those fighters that no one really wants to fight simply because his height, boxing skills and power makes him a tough match up for any Welterweight and junior Middleweights.

In the Welterweight division, Andre Berto is already one of the elites among 147 pound fighters and Victor Ortiz is fighting his up the 140 pound division.

In the featherweights, there are prospects and contenders under 26 years of age.

Cuban Yuriokis Gamboa and Puerto Rican Juan Manual Lopez are prospects who combined boxing skills, power and fast hands as they march up the ranks. There is one featherweights who is no longer a prospect but a champion — the ghost Robert Guerrero.

He’s already won a share of the feather weight and now is campaigning as a super featherweight looking to add another divisional championship.

No discussion is complete without talking about Juan “the Baby Bull” Diaz.

In two weeks, Diaz challenges Juan Marquez for the lightweight supremacy. For many boxing fans, he’s been around for a long time and it would be surprising to include the “baby bull” on the list.

Diaz began his professional career early and has been a contender for a long time. An upset defeat at the hands of Nate Campbell is his only lost and the tough Houston fighter is ready to challenge one of the living legends.

Diaz’s strength has been his overwhelming ability to throw punches in bunches and over the years, he has improved his defensive skills.This will be a major defining fight for Diaz for if he beats Marquez, he will have his own place in boxing history.

Diaz will move from being just a very good fight to all time best.

All of these fighters are under 29 years of age and in some cases, entering the prime of their careers. Fighters like Haye, Diaz, Williams, Berto, Dawson, and Guerrero have already won titles and are working on securing a more lasting legacies to their careers.

And just below them are rising stars close to challenging for titles on their own accord. Boxing is in good hand from the heavyweights down to the lower divisions.