Discussion among the Boxing Social team concerning the Prospect of the Year award was heated and intense.
It’s no easy feat – of course – to identify future world champions from among the massed ranks of hopefuls and pro novices throughout the sport. Indeed, there’s always the possibility that you might end up with egg on your face in the future if your chosen fighter falls short of top honours. After all, in 1987 The Ring magazine’s prospect of the year was one Engels Pedroza, and around 2000 and 2001 pretty much every boxing scribe out there pegged Francisco Bojado as a future great…
Among the fighters who caught our panel’s attention, but not enough to warrant consideration for the overall award, were several boxers based in the UK and Ireland, including 3-0 female super-lightweight Sandy Ryan; 7-0 welterweight Paddy Donovan; 9-0 super lightweight Dalton Smith; 8-0 super-lightweight Pierce O’Leary and 9-0 super-bantam Shabaz Masoud.
Outside the British Isles, Japanese 7-0 light-flyweight Shokichi Iwata and American 5-0 super feather Marc Castro were both mentioned in dispatches by our panel as ones to watch.
When it came to the full prize, panel member John Angus MacDonald argued the case for Ohio heavyweight Jared Anderson, who scored four stoppage wins in 2021 to move to 11-0. “The ‘Big Baby’ is destructive and Top Rank rarely get it wrong. The amount of exposure he is receiving shows the faith the promotional outfit have in him. He might just be the real deal.”
Another panel member, Phil Rogers, plumped for Xander Zayas, the Puerto Rican who won six fights in 2021, three at welterweight and three at super welter.
A trio of Tokyo Olympians also impressed our panel. Russian Albert Batyrgasiev became the first pro boxer to win Olympic gold in Japan when he defeated Duke Ragan of the United States in the featherweight gold medal match. Either side of the Olympics he picked up four pro wins at super feather and feather in 2021, all of them via KO.
Uzbek hard man Bakhodir Jalolov emulated Batyrgasiev’s achievement in winning Olympic gold as a pro by securing super-heavyweight gold in Tokyo. As a pro he is now 9-0 with 9 KOs, having picked up a further two paid victories this year. “He’s a scary big unit, technically very tidy,” noted Craig Scott. “He’ll cause serious problems in a couple of years.
However, ultimately, it was a pro boxer who fell just short in Tokyo in the form of Keyshawn Davis who won our award. As well as four pro wins in 2021, the 22-year-old from Norfolk, Virginia won silver in Tokyo, and was only denied gold in the lightweight final by Cuba’s superlative three-time world amateur champion Andy Cruz.
Signed to Top Rank and a spectacular TKO victor against Jose Zaragoza on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko’s Madison Square Garden showdown with Richard Commey, the sky would appear to be the limit for the richly talented 22-year-old.
“Norfolk, Virginia was the birthplace of the great Pernell Whitaker,” observed panel member Luke G. Williams. “In Keyshawn Davis, the Virginian city looks to have unearthed another lightweight gem.”