By: Oliver McManus
In these uncertain times across the world it is impossible to put a timeframe on any prediction and, naturally, there are far bigger things to worry about than when boxing will be back on the agenda. Nevertheless over a series of articles we’re going to look at prospects from all corners of the globe worth keeping an eye on when punches can be thrown again. The fighters chosen will have different ceilings and this is, by no means, a definitive list of fighters set to be world beaters but merely a selection of names we believe will provide plenty of entertainment along the way.
We kick off our series with Hasanboy Dusmatov who made a long awaited paid debut in November last year. The Uzbek southpaw holds a distinguished amateur record: Gold at Rio 2016 and the Asian Amateur Championships (2015 and 2017) pair nicely with Silver at the 2017 World Championships. Having been linked with big name promoters immediately after that success in Brazil it’s perhaps surprising we had to wait so long for his debut. The patience of Dusmatov is to be admired, though, and he impressed when the time came: scheduled for eight against Jesus Cervantes (9-7), the light-fly got the job done in just two rounds.
Ginjiro Shigeoka isn’t a name too familiar to me but was suggested by a family member living in Malaysia. The Japanese fighter turned professional in September 2018, three weeks before his 19th birthday, and has started making moves at minimumweight. Naturally not the deepest of weight divisions but opportunities come fast and often: so far Shigeoka has risen to the challenge without a hitch.
Staying in that Asian bubble and we can turn our attention to Suzumi Takayama: with only three pro fights under his belt the super-fly is the least experienced on our shortlist. Having held a somewhat take-it-or-leave-it amateur record of 36-15 there isn’t a lot that would immediately highlight Takayama as one to watch. Japan, however, has a reputation of breeding pedigree at lower weight classes and the 23 year old is being ambitiously advanced through the domestic division. Fighting out of Watanabe Gym, Takayama secured the national youth title with a last round knockout over, previously unbeaten, Tetsuro Ohashi in October. There will be lots of developing to come for the fighter who impressed on the University circuit and there’s every chance he might not hang around at 115lbs.
Across the ocean and a young Jesse Rodriguez is racking up experience and plaudits aplenty. The 20 year old turned over in March 2017 and in those three years since looks a completely different man: as is to be expected when debuting two months after his 17th birthday. Now 11-0 and embracing sturdier challenges it’s a credit to his match-making that Rodriguez has been allowed that time and space to naturally develop as a fighter: that dedication paying dividends as the calibre of opponent increases. The San Antonio native now looks comfortable at flyweight having toyed with weight classes in the past. Money on him to be the city’s first major world champion since ‘Jesse’ James Leija, in 1994, wouldn’t be beyond reason.