By: Oliver McManus
As boxing returns to our screens gradually it seems appropriate to highlight a handful of fighters from across the weight classes worth keeping an eye on. The four names below cover super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight: they all, naturally, have different ceilings to their ability but they are fighters we believe will provide plenty of much-needed entertainment.
Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov is already an established name at 130lbs having been a professional since December 2015. The talented Tajik fighter was pushed early on his career into regional belts but has blossomed in earnest over the past two years. Since being based in Ekaterinburg, Russia, the diminutive figure has racked up a series of impressive wins in defence of his WBC International title. As a combative southpaw Yaqubov frequently pops up with the jab to draw a counter before rolling under his opponent’s punch: a very fan friendly style of fighting.
From Russia, albeit via Tajikistan, with love to the streets of Toledo, Ohio. Otha Jones III is on a mission, alongside close friend Charles Conwell, to better his beloved city. Formerly a distinguished wrestler, Jones turned professional with Matchroom USA possessing a record of 283-13 and 21 national championships: all before the age of 19. Five pro fights in his first year saw Jones box in Verona, Bethnal Green, Providence, Chicago and Miami. Trained in-house by his father (Otha II) and brother (Roshawn) his success really is a family affair. Highlight of his career so far must be a brutal beatdown of Michael Horabin, dropping him twice, before the fight was called off inside two minutes.
Back to Europe and Artem Harutyunyan is busy making a name for himself at super lightweight. Having picked up Germany’s only boxing medal at Rio 2016, Harutyunyan turned professional after missing out on a medal when Germany hosted the World Championships in 2017. Since then he has been kept busy, often alongside his brother Robert, but has proven his pedigree in edging his nose ahead. The Original showcased his skills impressively in July to stop Miguel Cesario Antin in the fifth round when, in truth, Antin took a pasting from almost from the off.
Eight years younger than Harutyunyan is Danish southpaw Oliver Meng. Born in Gedser, a small town with a population of less than 1,000, Meng is as frosty cool in the ring as his surroundings. Boxing out of the Danish Fight Night stable, headed up by Brian Nielsen, the 21 year old is in good company as he looks to bring big time boxing back to the Nordic region. An IBF youth champion since January 2019, Meng dispatched of a wobbly Maono Ally with some flamboyance. The confident used his loose limbs to pepper Ally across the ring and worked the body well.