20 boxing prospects to keep tabs on in 2012 (part 1/4)

4 Jan

Alan Dawson – London

The future is bright for boxing as, despite 2011 being a year seemingly epitomised by a clusterf*ck of inept judging, superfights that were never made and the looming imprisonment of pugilism’s polarising figure Floyd Mayweather, it still shone the light on a glut of double-hard fighters ready to add further shine on their star this coming year. From the already-acclaimed to those with esoteric fame, On The Beak lists 20 of boxing’s hottest prospects

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Undefeated Askin eager to add titles to his honours roll

Matty Askin

(12-0-0, 8ko)

Blackpool boxer Matty Askin, a 23-year-old cruiserweight dubbed the Assassin, already has the physical tools necessary to impose himself onto opponents. At 6’4 with a 77′ reach and commanding power from each fist, he has demonstrated in his 12 professional outings to date that he is capable of methodically breaking down a variety of alternative styles as he has bust up bangers, slicksters and – with the backing of Hatton Promotions, spearheaded by much-loved Briton and former two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton – he is doing all he can to align himself into a British title shot at 200lbs.

Askin has not had it all his way despite his status as an undefeated fighter. In January, 2010, in just his fifth pro bout, he took on renowned trial-horse on the British circuit Hastings Rasani. Askin, having won the ABA cruiserweight title in 2008 at age 19, had a solid amateur background behind him but it was arguably professional inexperience that showed against Rasani as Askin struggled to exert his game into a fight that contained more spoiling and holding than boxing.

Even though the contest was a far cry from the beauty of the sweet science, it was Matty who won a one-sided points victory (over six threes) and he perhaps used the fight as a learning curve… one he could call upon against awkward Argentinean Juan Manuel Garay in August, 2011 as he refused to get thrown off by his opponent’s in-ring eccentricities whilst displaying patience and precision en route to a stunning fourth round kayo.

What could see Askin not only progress further up the domestic and global rankings but collect a bigger fanbase on the way is his willingness to fight for pride. In his sixth fight he took on Mathew Ellis (20-9-2, 9ko at the time), whose losses had come up against some Europe’s most notable names including Denis Bakhtov, Audley Harrison, Enzo Maccarinelli, Tyson Fury and Tony Bellew. The clash was one for local pride… whom the best from Blackpool was. It was Askin. He knocked out Ellis in the first round with a hadouken right hand.

Now he wants to decide the argument of whom the best in Britain is.

Ola Afolabi is operating out of Los Angeles and is pursuing a world title tilt but the British championship is currently held by Leon Williams, who makes his first defence of the crown against Shane McPhilbin on January 13. Askin recently signed an extended contract with Hatton Promotions who now have a five fight plan for Askin: a ‘tune-up’ against a yet-to-be-determined opponent on February 4, a challenge of the English cruiserweight championship against Jon Lewis Dickinson that, if successful will lead him to be Williams’ mandatory challenger. From there, the plan is to claim the Lonsdale title and rule Britain by making a brace of defences.

Lengthy Benavidez finds his range. Credit: Chris Farina

Jose Benavidez

(14-0-0, 12ko)

Teenage super lightweight Jose Benavidez can’t help but generate hype – and with good reason. Even before his professional debut he was an 11-time national champion, a Junior Olympian and in 2009, a Golden Gloves winner – the youngest ever, aged 16. He sparred Yory Boy Campas at 14-years-old and it was said, by Wildcard Boxing Club owner Freddie Roach, that he was equal to Amir Khan when he gloved up with the Briton at 17.

Benavidez is also easy to market as he not only has shown a tremendous talent with his boots on canvas, but he is a good-looking lad, speaks well and has a good team behind him. His father, Jose Sr, acts as head coach whilst Roach also imparts wisdom through the ropes when they all train at the Wildcard, receiving world class sparring from a variety of styles including the technical skills of Paul Malignaggi, the speed and accumulative punch power of Khan and Manny Pacquiao and gaining the upper hand on fellow prospect, Filipino lightweight Mercito Gesta.

He is also a busy boxer. In his first year in the professional game (2010) he fought nine times, adding a further five bouts in his second year (2011). During that time he has shown an ability to fight to his physical advantages, tall at the weight (5’11) and at range (73′) but is also capable of picking precise shots when the gap closes.

Out of his pentagon of prizefights last year, only one was with an opponent who had a winning record and, in his most recent outing – a November points win over Samuel Santana in Las Vegas on the Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez undercard – it was discovered he had suffered severe swelling and damage on both hands. So much so, that the pain was evident in his face between rounds. Whether such injuries inhibit his power in future remains to be seen…

Acosta needs greater foes

Alexei Collado

(15-0-0, 14ko)

Due to the emergence of International Prizefighter tournament winner Mike Perez and his successful US debut – a one-sided domination of durable Nigerian journeyman Friday Ahunanya, together with the ascent of light heavyweight Luis Garcia, the third Ireland-based Cuban; Alexei Collado Acosta has become cruelly overlooked but, as a key member of the Central American trident who all enjoyed amateur fame as junior stars of the unpaid game, is not far off the skill-level of the aforementioned duo.

While heavyweight Perez and 175lber Garcia command respect in the higher weight classes Alexei is banging them out for fun in the super bantamweight division, albeit in a more inactive manner than in years past.

The Havana-born Hurricane, 23-years-old, won the junior world title in 2006 as a flyweight, but as a professional has been moved about slowly. Unlike Garcia and Perez, Collado is yet to make a sustained step-up in his level of competition and so remains untested, much like another Cuban prospect; Yunier Dorticos, who is based in Florida.

From his displays thus far, Collado has demonstrated an astute understanding of the jab. He oft leads with it, yet integrates an introductory left uppercut into his repertoire in order to keep his opposite number guessing. He can box with his hands so low that makes it seem like he is, at times, abandoning a guard but his foot movement is so intuitive that he can veer away from danger and pose an elusive target. When the gap is closed, he operates behind an earmuff/triangle defensive hybrid.

At 5’9 he is tall at the weight, commands strong power that is backed up by only one of his 15 opponents hearing the final bell. His stoppage victories, though, are not all pure kayoes. Cristian Faccio was pulled out of their 2010 dust-up via referee intervention due to Acosta’s unrelenting accuracy. In the following year, Jose Saez was stopped on his feet after taking a lengthy period of unanswered flurrying and, in Collado’s most recent bout he went the ten round distance with Franklin Varela, a man whom was stopped in seven by current British titlist at 122lbs; Scott Quigg.

Collado’s talent is more subtle than Garcia but with Luis’ increasing standing at light heavy and with the excitement Perez has stirred at heavyweight, a mouthwatering card would feature all three and, if such an event were to occur in 2012, it would be hoped that Collado could enjoy a year that his stablemates did in the one just gone.

Dirks (left) weighs-in for light heavy bout with Kolaj

Dustin Dirks

(22-0-0, 16ko)

American broadcasters would describe Dirks as having a ‘European style of fighting’. And they’d be right. The Berlin-based boxer has an upright stance, maintains a high and stubborn guard, favours straight shots and does not apply a great amount of pressure.

To date, it is a style that has worked well for him. At the conclusion of his bouts he is rarely – if ever – marked up and he has sent 73 percent of his opponents back to the dressing-rooms early.

The 22-year-old has been touted inside Germany as a solid prospect now for a number of years but the level of his opponents continued to be pulled from the lower tiers, thus making results a foregone conclusion – a straight-forward Dirks victory, often by kayo. Dirks fought four times in 2011 and the guys he defeated had a combined record of 54-29-5 heading into fight night. His most impressive win was against Patrick J Maxwell, a Bronx-born Briton who campaigns as a super middleweight and was knocked out by Dustin in just two rounds in May.

While Dirks’ experience with tough journeymen is limited, what he does have experience of is fighting on high-profile cards, in big European arenas and so, when he does make a sustained step-up into the Continent’s second tier, the occasion should not faze him.

That first step occurs on January 14, at the Baden Arena in Offenburg. Dirks takes on former three-time European champion Thomas Ulrich on an undercard that also features Arthur Abraham and Kubrat Pulev and is headlined by WBO super middleweight world champion Robert Stieglitz. Considering Dirks’ heavy hands and the blatent light switch on Ulrich’s chin, Dirks should enhance his knockout ratio, however, the intent to be matched with a fighter with pedigree remains sound and the youngster could enjoy a breakout 2012 culminating with a potential EBU shot by the year’s end.

Thomas Dulorme

(13-0-0, 10ko)

Dulorme has grown into a solid 147lbs physique with a 5'10 height and an 80' reach

The matchmaking on ESPN’s popular fistic show Friday Night Fights is consistently respectable, although in 2011 it was so competitive that by the season’s finale, observers were dubbing FNF as a place where ‘prospects go to die’. The most famous example was Mexican middleweight Marco Antonio Rubio’s upset defeat of the previously undefeated Canadian kayo specialist David Lemieux, who was withdrawn from the seventh round of their April contest at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.

Further validation of the death of the prospect in 2011 was evidenced by Mauricio Herrera’s shock points win over Ruslan Provodnikov, Jose Lopez’s surprise seventh round stoppage of Mike Dallas and the sight of Fernando Guerrero getting blasted through the ropes by an in-form Grady Brewer. That said, there was little mention of this running theme in June due to the confidence scribes had in Thomas Dulorme who made an appearance on the show at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City when he boxed former super lightweight world champion DeMarcus Chop Chop Corley.

Dulorme, on a run of ten straight knockout wins, fought magnificently, winning every round bar the first. Throughout, he showed good speed of hand, a reliable jab and a hellacious right that he’d target to Corley’s skull or dig into the fight veteran’s solar plexus. As well as appearing like a headhunter he is also a body-snatcher as, during his combination work, he’d strike the midsection with mid-range cross shots and short-range uppercuts that would introduce a hooking left over the top.

Corley was so impressed with Dulorme that he said: “[He] is a very good fighter, very focused and precise. I have no doubt he will become world champion. He has the tools to reach the level of Cotto, Mayweather and Judah.”

Earlier in the year, Dulorme had beaten Jorge Delgado in Puerto Rico, Guillermo Valdes and Harrison Cuello in Connecticut (all by way of knockout), prior to picking up the vacant NABA USA welterweight gong for his ten round decisioning of Corley. He completed the year by trumping Charlie Jose Navarro in his first defence of his first professional championship title in Panama City.

Considering his skillset, achievements last year and the constant accolades proclaiming Dulorme to follow in the footsteps of Sixto Escobar, Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad and Carlos Ortiz and become the next great Puerto Rican prizefighter, all eyes will be on the 21-year-old phenom who is expected to raise his profile even further in 2012. He fights on February 17 in a ten round bout in California against a yet-to-be-determined opponent and, in his second fight of the year, could face experienced Brooklyn slickster Paul Malignaggi, who is undefeated at 147lbs.

Related article: Matty Askin stops Juan Manuel Garay in fourth round with three-punch combo

Related article: Videos: Top 140lb prospects Mercito Gesta and Jose Benavidez spar at Wildcard

Related article: Askin calls out new British cruiser king: I’ll stop Williams if he dare take me on

Related article: Khan sparring Benavidez then Omotoso in preparation for Peterson

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2 Responses to “20 boxing prospects to keep tabs on in 2012 (part 1/4)”

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  1. 20 boxing prospects to keep tabs on in 2012 (part 1/4) « On The Beak - January 4, 2012

    […] 20 boxing prospects to keep tabs on in 2012 (part 1/4) […]

  2. News: Jan – June « On The Beak - November 18, 2012

    […] 20 boxing prospects to keep tabs on in 2012 (part 1/4) […]

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