North American Boxers to Watch
By: Oliver McManus
With every passing week there’s another half dozen fighters making their debut that appear worth keeping an eye on. Fighters in North America are greeted with a plurality of promoters, managers and networks all promising to make them a future star of the sport. With that being said, here are Boxing Insider’s shortlist of North American fighters we believe will crack the jackpot.
Jaron Ennis – Welterweight
The man of the moment following his brutal beatdown over Bakhtiyar Eyubov on January 10th: Ennis has been raising eyebrows for a considerable period of time. Eyebrows raised not least for his ever flamboyant shorts. The Philadelphia welterweight has racked up 25 wins since turning professional in 2016 and has only gone the distance on two occasions. He has boxed at a canter in his recent performances but has still looked frighteningly destructive. Against Demian Fernandez, last year, Ennis twisted into each punch with vim and vigour and blitzed the Argentine into submission. It’s going to be hard to match him productively until the big titles come a-knocking; kudos to anyone capable of withstanding his pressure performances.
Edgar Berlanga – Middleweight
It’s hard to ignore any fighter with 13 wins and 13 first round knockouts and that’s exactly what Berlanga boasts. The middleweight from New York has swept aside all opposition he’s faced since a professional debut in April 2016. Three of his opponents have been debutants and the majority of the rest best typified as “win-some, lose-some” fighters so it’s hard to gauge a ceiling for Berlanga as of yet. The Andre Rozier fighter, with strong Puerto Rican roots, has ensured not to hang about and has been consistently destructive in his pursuit of a knockout. Over the course of 2020 he should face some more recognisable names where we’ll be able to measure just HOW good he is. Spoiler alert: he’ll probably still knock them out.
Otha Jones III – Lightweight
Talented Toledo lightweight Otha Jones III is on a mini crusade to bring boxing swinging back into the bright lights of Ohio. The 19 year old inked a deal with Matchroom USA last year and went 4-0 for the calendar year. A United Kingdom debut saw him stop Michael Horabin inside two minutes; Horabin is a fighter who rarely gets stopped. The softly spoken and self aware fighter has been keen to get his name out in the media at an early stage of his career: his performances match the buzz surrounding his name. He’s not been shy, either, about his goals and previously stated a desire to be 11-0 before 2020 is out.
Jared Anderson – Heavyweight
Venture into the not too distant past and it seemed as though the United States of America were capable of churning out heavyweight hopefuls at a baker’s dozen a week. Many of them would fizzle out but expectation remained; sadly not even that can be said for the last decade. Jared Anderson, alongside talents like Sonny Conto, look set to redress that issue. Anderson has been dubbed “America’s next great heavyweight” and he’s showing glimpses of that promise since turning professional. 2-0 and with plenty of work to do, the two-time national amateur champion is another Ohioan bringing some sparkle to the State.
Simon Kean – Heavyweight
Canadian heavyweight Simon Kean is a bit of a pet project of mine: I’ve had a keen interest in his career for a number of years. He makes this list by way of being in entertaining fights despite having a ceiling noticeably lower than most entrants. That is of no disrespect because Kean has been at the forefront of a rejuvenated boxing scene in Canada – he has helped bring a bit of glamour back to the national heavyweight division. The sole defeat of his career is to, the capable, Dillon Carman but he’s pieced together three KO wins since. The 31 year is the WBC Silver International champion so expect him to figure in some minor-ranking fights and a name, possibly, for Daniel Dubois?
Charles Conwell – Super Welterweight
Tragedy struck the sport last year with the tragic loss of a number of fighters. The most widely covered death was that of Patrick Day; Charles Conwell was his opponent that night and has been open about his struggles since. The dignity with Conwell has carried himself is a testament to the type of man he is; a man in the sport for the right reasons. The 22 year old competed in the Rio Olympics but lost in the first round – his professional career has gone far smoother. Last year the super welterweight claimed the USBA title with a comfortable win over Courtney Pennington. In his eleven pro fights he has garnered attention for his assured approach in the ring and amiable personality outside of it.
Cody Crowley – Super Welterweight
Ontario resident Cody Crowley has slowly but surely been climbing up the peripheral rankings. Now at 18-0, you’d have to cast your mind back to the undercard of Terence Crawford vs Yuriorkis Gamboa (June 2014) for his professional debut. The 26 year old’s approach to his development seems to have been wise; there will always be lessons to learn for any 20 year old making their debut. Crowley has been sure to step up at the right time, knowing it was on his side, and has adapted to each step up with real comfort. Last year he defended the CPBC National title on two occasions and should fight for bigger titles this year.
Ruben Villa – Featherweight
WBO International belt holder Ruben Villa made his professional debut shortly after his 19th birthday. The Californian entered the pro ranks, in 2016, with credible amateur pedigree: a two time Golden Gloves champion and a 166-17 record. Villa has been guided by Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing who have seen him progress to 17-0 and continually busy. His television debut will be on January 31st when he headlines on Showtime against Alexei Collado. Villa is a smooth southpaw who fought for the International belt twice last year winning both with a style that sees him tick through the motions and widen the gap as rounds progress.
David Kaminsky – Welterweight
Israeli-born David Kaminsky is another teenager looking to make a splash with big backing. Bob Arum and the cohort at Top Rank have invested into the welterweight with grand ambitions for the 19 year old. As an amateur he took silver at the US Youth National Championships, competing at 165lbs but saw success across a number of weight divisions. Having settled at 154 for the foreseeable future, Kaminsky has quickly caught the eye of onlookers. In his latest fight, against Travis Jerig, he caught his opponent flush in the face with a crisp left hand to stop the contest immediately.
Saleto Henderson – Flyweight
The lightest of our fighters to watch, Saleto Henderson is worth keeping an eye on in a flyweight scene gradually receiving more awareness. Henderson will be a bit of a slow-burner, I suspect, with time aplenty to round out his ability. The 20 year old has moved to 7-0 with ease, albeit against untested opponents, and looks a little raw from what footage there is. In December he went ten rounds, at the first scheduled opportunity, against Jesus Soler to win an NABF Junior belt. Given how young he is there is plenty of time for the early promise to be matured in the ring into a polished final product. He’ll need to stay busy, which can be hard at flyweight, but seven fights in a year shows he has every commitment to learning on the job.
Raging Babe Presents Thursday Night Fights at the Armory: The Return
Rosado returns to finish what she started in the Bull City.
This time last year, “Raging Babe” Michelle Rosado touched down in Raleigh for the first time, determined to help a local boxing promoter make his mark in North Carolina. Rosado and her company, Raging Babe, did just that, and have now emerged as North Carolina’s newest boxing promoter. On October 19th, Raging Babe promotes its own event at the Durham Armory, aptly named The Return. The card will feature some of the best young talent from across North Carolina in competitive fights, matched by Hall of Fame Matchmaker and mentor to Rosado, Russell Peltz.
With a combined 50+ years of experience in the rough and tumble world of boxing, Rosado and Peltz brought a well-tested formula to Wilson in their first North Carolina endeavor in February. The sell-out event was followed up by the debut of Thursday Night Fights in Durham. Throwing a boxing event on a Thursday night was a hard sell for Rosado. “I had to really work on the promoter to get them to give Thursday Night Fights a shot. Durham is a fight town. I knew that if we threw a solid, quality card, with good fights, that fans would come out on a Thursday night, and they did.” When planning The Return, Rosado opted to bring back Thursday Night Fights, and return to the Durham Armory.
After two wildly successful events, followed by a dramatic falling out with the now defunct promotional company, Rosado was reluctant to return to the Tar Heel State. She realized, though, after so many months of putting her sweat and passion into boxing in North Carolina, she owed to herself and the gyms, fighters and fans she met there to return, and fulfill the commitments she made to them to deliver quality fights, while treating the fighters ethically and with respect.
“It took a while to get to know the personalities, the gyms, the fighters and their stories,” said Rosado. “For a long time, North Carolina was a place that managers and promoters brought their fighters to rack up wins. The fighters here deserve so much more than that, as do the fans. I made it a point to let everyone I met in North Carolina know that we were here to work on changing that.”
In planning The Return, Rosado has felt that she could fully put her passions and ideas to work for North Carolina boxing. “I’m excited for the opportunity to do it my way,” said Rosado, who has put on events in Phoenix, Tucson, Philadelphia and Danbury, Connecticut. “I’m happy to work with any fighter that wants to step up and fight. There are no easy touches on my cards. We want to pack the venue and give fans a night to remember. Russell is putting together a phenomenal fight card. The main and co-main events are going to have people so excited – I get goosebumps thinking about it. These guys are really stepping up to give the fans some of the best fights Durham has seen in a while. I wasn’t even sure we could put these fights together, and all of these fighters signed on the dotted line with no hesitation. They are daring to be great, and putting their undefeated records on the line, and I can’t wait to formally announce what we’ve been working on these last few weeks.”
Rosado is also planning to work with the fighters to help the community in and around Durham. “I want to bring positivity to Durham, and to North Carolina boxing. These guys are given a stage to showcase their talent, and we want to use that platform to give back to the community in any way we can.”
The complete fight card will be announced August 24th, and tickets for The Return go on sale that morning. Tickets can be purchased through the fighters or at ragingbabe.com.