Prospect Watch: Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight, and Featherweight
By: Oliver McManus
With boxing on hold for the foreseeable future, at least in the form we know it, Boxing Insider is taking a look at top prospects to keep an eye on when the sport returns. The five names below cover bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight: they all, naturally, have different ceilings to their ability but, most importantly, they all pack some entertaining punch!
As with last week we will start proceedings with a sumptuous Uzbek talent. Shakhobidin Zoirov is another pearl from the far-flung country with Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2019 World Championships in Yekaterinburg. Both those triumphs came at 52kg and southpaw now competes in the slightly heavier bantamweight division (53.5kg). Having debuted in April last year, Zoirov made light work of Anthony Holt (5-4-1): a slam-dunk straight left hand inside of 20 seconds and that was that. Since then he’s moved to 3-0 in equally breezy fashion.
Elie Konki, as it stands, is one of the more advanced fighters on this list, to date, having captured the EBU-EU bantamweight title in December. The Frenchman, a Rio 2016 competitor, first caught my attention with a real nip-and-tuck encounter against Benedikt Croze for the French bantamweight title in 2018. In that fight he was forced to work under pressure but looked comfortable on the back-foot and dug deep to grind the win. Since then the 28 year old defended his title, with relative comfort, on three occasions and hand Sebastian Perez (12-0-1 at the time) his first loss to claim the EU strap.
Comparisons between Dennis McCann and Naseem Hamed are as frequent as rainfall in Quibdo, Colombia (the world’s rainiest city, in case you didn’t work it out). There are undeniable similarities and the influence is clear: whilst McCann has some polishing work to do you wouldn’t expect anything less from a 19 year old prodigy. Guided by Frank Warren, you can be assured that he’ll take the right steps at the right time and he’s already tested the durability of four of his six opponents. Despite facing journeymen, again to be expected, he does so in an eye catching manner that ensures they leave the ring wondering just what they’d been up against.
Another southpaw making the list is 21 year old Raymond Ford who has looked every bit as ‘Savage’ as his nickname would suggest. A 2018 U.S Golden Gloves champion there was significant clamour for his signature on a promotional contract and it was Eddie Hearn who secured it. Part of a new dawn with Matchroom USA the, once, Olympic contender has really settled in the paid ranks with five wins inside nine months of his pro debut. That included a four round pasting of, noticeably teak tough, Aleksandrs Birkenbergs and two well worked stoppages in Phoenix and Providence. Don’t sleep on him because Raymond Ford looks cut out for the very top.
Musashi Mori is yet another young fighter coming out of Japan that looks like a superstar in the making. One bonus, you could say, of boxing in Japan is that, almost certainly, by the time you’re ready to burst onto the world scene you remain very much a hidden gem. Mori is one such name having already worked his way up the WBO rankings by way of their Asia-Pacific featherweight belt. At 20 years of age and 11-0 since his debut in December 2016 the southpaw is consistently maturing in the ring. The word coming out of Japan, at the start of the year anyway, was that he would contest a bona-fide world title in 2020 and, whilst that may well be on hold, the ambition certainly isn’t.