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The Next Generation

The future of boxing appears to be in great hands

By John Zemel   - @Intuboxing

The sport of boxing had always had a heavy reliance on timelines. Firstly, there is the reverence that fight fans have for the champions of the past. More than maybe any other sport, boxing holds its former champions in such high regard that it is sometimes difficult for current athletes to live up to the nostalgic images of those who’ve come and gone. They represent boxing’s long, proud history. Secondly, you have the present day athletes who make up the current pound for pound scene. They compete for titles, sell out arenas, and take up the majority of talking points on most boxing sites. They represent the now, in their primes. Lastly, you have what the boxing world calls prospects. They are perhaps the most exciting of all, because they represent the unknown. When examining a blue chip prospect, hardcore boxing fans are giddy with excitement just imagining the possibilities that exist when the sky is the limit. I’m here to take a look at four of the more exciting prospects in today’s scene and what we can look forward to for the future. Shakur Stevenson, Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez, and Gervonta Davis all have their own unique backstories and accomplishments, but they all have one thing in common. They represent the future of the sport and they do it well. 

Shakur Stevenson is the only Olympic medalist on this list, picking up a silver medal in 2016 in the bantamweight division. He now fights at featherweight, and has been nothing short of impressive so far in his pro career. He sports a professional record of 10-0 with 6 KOs and has seemingly improved every fight, even with steps up in competition. He fights under Top Rank Promotions and has found a mentor in his stablemate and pound for pound king Terence Crawford. He fought his last fight on the undercard of Crawford’s last fight and will continue his journey against Christopher Diaz on the undercard of Crawford’s upcoming PPV matchup against Amir Khan. This exposure and experience is sure to help the young fighter who Crawford has described as “a tremendous talent” and “the next superstar to come.” High praise from someone at the top of the sport. 

Someone who Stevenson is very familiar with is Devin Haney. The two of them have gone back and forth in the media, with Stevenson telling Haney “You lucky you ain’t my weight,” and Haney responding by calling Stevenson a “Top rank slave” on Twitter. It hasn’t only been verbal jabs thrown between them either, as their sparring sessions in Floyd Mayweather’s gym have become something of legend with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Haney, who Stevenson says “used to be my little brother” is gathering up quite a bit of hype of his own, with Floyd Mayweather Sr. calling him the “next Floyd.” At only 20 years old, he already boasts a professional record of 21-0 with 13 knockouts. He has been featured on Showtime and has impressed at every opportunity. Since his professional debut at only 17, Haney has proven himself time and time again. He also has shown quite the acumen for the business side of the sport, owning his own promotional company at such a young age. Garnering comparisons to Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr., and Sugar Ray Leonard, it’s easy to see why so many are looking at this young man as the future of the sport. 

If there’s a prospect even more hyped, however, that would be Teofimo Lopez. He was 2018’s Prospect of the Year according to Sports Illustrated, ESPN, The Ring magazine, and Yahoo Sports among many others. His highlight reel knockouts and Fortnite celebrations have made him as close to an overnight celebrity as it gets in boxing. Since losing in the first round of the 2016 Olympics, Lopez hasn’t had a moment that resembled anything but sweet victory. His knockout of Mason Menard last year was a Knockout of the Year nominee all over boxing media and he followed it up with a seventh round knockout of Diego Magdaleno, a former title contender and huge step up in competition. At only 21 years old, Lopez has a record of 12-0 with 10 big knockouts. His power and personality are always on display and he is the consummate showman. He has seemingly embraced the role of the heel, talking trash about every other fighter in this article and many more. That keeps people talking and as we’ve learned from Floyd Mayweather Jr., can be very profitable. 

Speaking of Mayweather, Gervonta Davis signed with his promotional company in 2015 and has been nothing short of outstanding since. He may seem out of place in this article, being the oldest and most accomplished of anyone else on this list, but at only 24 years old it’s safe to say that his best days are still ahead. Boasting an impressive record of 21-0 with 20 KOs, Davis has shown that he has what it takes to be the next superstar in boxing. He is a two time world champion, and the only questions about him are about his actions outside of the ring. While not technically a prospect, I chose to include him here because you can’t talk about the future of boxing without his name coming up. He is a bonafide star, with superstardom seemingly inevitable. 

All four of these young men has discussed each other in the media, on Twitter, and in private. They are constantly being compared to each other and asked about each other in interviews. Whether they want to admit it or not, their lives and careers are inexorably linked and they will be connected forever. Fans who lived through the heavyweight eras of the 70’s or 90’s, or the middleweight eras of the 80’s remember fondly the time periods throughout boxing history where multiple all time greats fought in the same era and weight class. It’s far too early to compare these young warriors to those greats of the past, but it’s easy to see why the boxing world is buzzing with four blue chip prospects on the horizon, around the same weight class and timeline. Could this be the Twitter Generation’s Four Kings? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure. The future of this sport is as bright as ever.