We’ve already given you a list of fights to wish for and a few fights our readers would like to see. How about the fighters? Which fighters should fans be on the look out for in 2011 and beyond? Below is a list of fighters, other than Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, etc…who are ready to take a major step into the boxing spotlight.
Andre Ward (23-0, 13 KOs): Right now Ward is without question the top 168-pound fighter in the world. His win over Mikkel Kessler has made him the darling of the division. He’ll square off against Arthur Abraham in the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinal sometime this spring. A win there would put him in the final against the winner of the other semifinal between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson. The former Olympic Gold medalist isn’t flashy, but his talent is above reproach. Ward, who is the favorite in the tournament now, will likely face Lucian Bute sometime in 2012.
Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs): Martinez is in the unenviable position of being the best fighter in a division devoid of great stars. He’s considered the best middleweight in the world. The problem is there aren’t many quality middleweights. Many fo the top middleweights have moved up to 168 in the last few years. Lou DiBella told the Neutral Corner last week that he’s working on a bout with Sergei Dzinziruk. Although it’s not a bout the world necessarily wants to see, HBO appears to be very interested. The question is what happens after that fight. There aren’t many places for Martinez, who shook up the boxing world with a one-punch KO of Paul Williams, to go. One insider familiar with the situation said Martinez would love to take on Miguel Cotto.
Mike Jones (23-0, 18 KOs): The Philadelphia native finds himself in the same predicament as Martinez. He’s a quality fighter in a division that doesn’t have a ton of big names. Outside of Pacquiao, Mayweather and Shane Mosley, there aren’t many welterweights for Jones make his mark against. Andre Berto could be a possibility for Jones. But you have to wonder if DiBella and Berto would be willing to risk a fight like that. It would certainly help Jones, though. Jones, 27, who scored a majority decision over Jesus Soto Karass on the Pacquiao-Margarito undercard, will fight Karass in a rematch in February. At some point someone will realize Jones’s potential.
Andre Berto (27-0, 21 KOs): Speaking of Berto, here’s another welterweight that seems to be caught in the switches. There are some who believe Berto is overrated. But he does have wins over Carlos Quintana, Juan Urango, Luis Collazo and Steve Forbes. Ok, so none of those fighters are exactly hall-of-fame candidates. But they are all quality opponents. Clearly, it’s time for Berto to step up his competition. And why not start against Miguel Cotto or maybe a bout against one of the hot 140-pounders. Amir Khan perhaps? This is assuming Top Rank boss Arum doesn't want to risk putting Pacquiao in the ring with him.
Saul Alvarez (35-0-1, 26 KOs): Alvarez’ record is impressive. But no one is impressed with his list of opponents. Beating Carlos Baldomir isn’t saying much, especially if he’s the best fighter out of the 36 Alvarez has faced. That notwithstanding, the Mexican native is a rising star in the 154-pound division. He has tremendous power and the charisma to be a real star. Don’t be surprised to here his name in the same conversation as Miguel Cotto, assuming Golden Boy Promotions can mend the fences with Top Rank. Yes, Alvarez is a Golden Boy fighter, which means it will be tough finding him a quality opponent outside of Oscar de la Hoya’s umbrella.
Amir Khan (24-1, 17 KOs): What’s there not to like about Khan? He has the heart and the power to be a star. He’s held his own against some of the quickest (Paulie Malignaggi), most powerful (Marcos Maidana) and experienced (Marco Antonio Barrera) fighters in the game. Outside of his questionable defense, he has the tools to be the next great one. Now can he get a fight against any of the other top 140-pound fighters in the game? Khan’s people are hoping he’ll get a shot at Devon Alexander or Tim Bradley. A bout against Pacquiao in the near future may not be out of the question either.