Happy New Year to one and all. Let’s hope it’s another bonanza for the fight game. As it’s time to speculate, here’s ten to watch in 2014 in alphabetical order:
One of 13 children born into a Romany gypsy family, the 22 year old redhead from Chingford is unbeaten in six at super-middle.
Schooled by the venerable Mark and Jimmy Tibbs in Canning Town, quiet lad Tom already possesses one of the most polished jabs in the industry, plus fabulous skill and variety.
Twice a senior ABA finalist in his teens, Baker scalped the feted Callum Smith in the amateur code. Once he acquires full man strength, he’s sure to evolve into a major force.
Once an undergraduate at Westminster University, and now moonlighting as a catwalk model, ’The Wise Guy’ is arguably the hottest rising commodity in British boxing.
A crippling puncher who shifts over 800 tickets for a fight, the 24 year old super-middle from Enfield has the stardust to restore big time boxing to the capital.
Another groomed by the Tibbses, Buglioni – unbeaten in 11 – is now acquiring the patience and guile to ensure that when he detonates his bombs, he regularly strikes the target.
It would be hard to omit England’s most decorated amateur of all-time.
He struck gold on home soil at both the 2012 London Olympics and 2008 Europeans in Liverpool, plus bagging silver at the 2011 World Seniors. He’s undeniably skilled and tactically astute, unbeaten in four, his opposition now needs to be stepped up.
This 24 year old southpaw from Blackwood is arguably the most gifted Welshman to join the pros since Nathan Cleverly.
Highly skilled and blessed with sizzling hands and a sharp brain, lightweight Craig once extended double Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko the full trip at the World amateur games and holds three wins over double European amateur champion Andrew Selby.
In 11 pro starts, he’s barely lost a round and is now ready to be unleashed at ten round level.
With a perfect 22 fight pro CV, ’Turbo Terry’ is long overdue his crack at the British lightweight title.
The 24 year old southpaw from Manchester struggled to win half of his 60 amateur bouts. However, since ditching the head guard and vest, he’s captured a Prizefighter trophy and an English title.
Latterly, he’s added power to his unquestionable industry and in April stopped Florida’s one-time world lightweight champion Nate Campbell in four – certainly one to watch.
Nothing attracts the casual sports fan to boxing more than a heavyweight hitter and ’Big Josh’ is our best prospect since Lennox Lewis.
The 6ft 6in Watford giant didn’t lace the gloves until his late teens but quickly bludgeoned his way to a brace of ABA crowns and the British amateur title.
After getting nudged out in the 2011 world amateur final, his super-heavyweight gold medal at London 2012 confirmed Joshua has the big time temperament to supplement his obvious athleticism and chilling power.
Still only 24, he has plenty of time to bloom and I’d be very disappointed if he didn’t land a world title.
A former England amateur captain, this 22 year old light-welter who really impressed me when winning the ABA Title.
Since debuting at the Copper Box last September, the Teesider – a triple national junior titlist and 2012 ABA lightweight champion – has sizzled in both his pro airings.
A fistic whirlwind, Leather has the engine, movement and hand speed to make his mark.
With almost a century of England appearances on his CV, the Sedgefield light-welter is this country’s most seasoned amateur international of this Millennium. And now that his maligned hands are free from injury, he should sprint to world class in the paid code.
Physically mature, frighteningly determined and blessed with every conceivable attribute bar good fortune, expect the 27 year old Durham lad to ride roughshod through the domestic and continental ranks over the next 18 months and re-ignite the fight scene in the north-east.
The youngest and some say the most naturally gifted of the four fighting brothers from Liverpool, ’Mundo’ won a British amateur title and Commonwealth Games silver medal in 2010 as a string bean 6ft 3in welterweight.
Three years on, and a stone and a half heavier, the 23 year old from Joe Gallagher’s gym in Bolton has stormed the pros, winning nine straight with six victims succumbing inside a round.
A master technician with a raking right hand and astute brain, time will show if young Smith can receive as well as he gives.
Mitch might look like your paper boy but there’s not a guard dog in the land that would put the frighteners up this angel faced assassin.
Raised by his father, young Smith first sought solace in the boxing gym as a six year old after being bullied at school. However, today the 21 year old super-feather from Harrow Weald oozes swagger and spite in equal measure.
Though short and compact, he has the arsenal and timing to offset his shortcomings, plus a vicious instinct to execute a wounded opponent. A real natural.
Further talented names to look out for next year include:
Teenage heavyweight sensation Hughie Fury blazed through 2013 - his first year as a professional - remaining unbeaten in twelve with seven stoppages. With big cousin Tyson providing a guiding hand, the talented 19-year-old is looking to make a big impact in his second year that could see him challenge for a title.
’Gorgeous’ Georgie Kean, like Frank Buglioni, is a phenomenal ticket-seller and sold close to a thousand on his professional debut. The 22-year-old welterweight, who’s unbeaten in two, looks like he’s out of a boy band, but is all-action in the ring with his aggressive style - and to top it he’s an Islington boy!
Hot-on-the-heels of British and Commonwealth Super-Flyweight Champion Paul Butler is fellow Ellesmere Port prospect Matty Fagan. The lightweight trains alongside Butler under top coach Anthony Farnell and he could be a diamond in the rough. The popular 25-year-old is unbeaten in four fights and next year could see big strides for him.