Story by: Robert Uzzell
Name: Josh “Pretty Boy” Kelly
Division: Welterweight, Junior Middleweight
W/L: 5-0, 4 KOs
Josh Kelly’s trainer Adam Booth hailed him as the most talented fighter he’s ever worked with. Booth’s statement says a lot as he has also trained the likes of Danny Williams, George Groves, Ryan Burnett, Andy Lee, David Haye, and Billy Joe Saunders.
Kelly is not only one of Britain’s most exciting prospects, but definitely one to watch for the entire boxing world in 2018.
He has a solid trainer in Booth, and is backed by perhaps boxing’s hottest promoter in Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport.
Kelly has a solid background as he was a member of Great Britain’s 2016 Olympic Boxing team. He also won a bronze medal at the 2015 European Games.
Kelly is 5-0, with 4 wins by knockout. His most recent win came in a step-up fight against Jean Michel Hamilcaro (25-8-3), who he knocked out. Hamilcaro had previously been in with Michael Soro and Jack Culcay.
Kelly is a fun fighter to watch. He fights with his hands down, while taunting and talking to his opponents. He has the hand speed and movement to do it, and this crowd pleasing style will gain him many more fans in the U.K. as well as the States as his professional career progresses.
“We have huge plans for Josh in 2018 and we’re going to hit the ground running early. I believe Josh is the complete package and is the man to take huge fights to the North East.”
“Adam [Booth] and the team will call the shots but I know they are already talking about big-named fighters already.
Make sure you keep an eye on Kelly in the future. He has the skills, although he should keep his hands up against better competition. We are unsure how his power will travel as he steps it up. He has fought at middleweight, as well as welterweight. I don’t know if this will continue in the future.
They seem to be on a fast track with Kelly so we may find out sooner than later if this kid has the goods. Stay tuned…
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Name: Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor
Division: Super Lightweight (Junior Welterweight)
W/L: 11-0, 10 KOs
Josh Taylor concluded his amateur career by representing Scotland in the 2012 Olympics and winning gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Taylor was also a junior taekwondo champion.
Taylor started his professional career in 2015 and signed with Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. His trainer is Shane McGuigan, who worked with David Haye, George Groves, and Carl Frampton to name a few.
Taylor won his first seven fights by knockout, including winning the Commonwealth title.
There are two names of note on Taylor’s resume that make him one to watch in 2018. First, in July of 2017, Taylor faced the highly touted (and loudmouth) unbeaten prospect O’Hara Davies. The two fighters had a robust Twitter beef going on before their fight, with Davies taking it to another level. At stake was Taylor’s Commonwealth title and both boxer’s undefeated records. Davies came into the fight ranked #9 by the IBF and #13 by the WBC.
In the third round, Taylor hurt Davies with numerous shots and dropped him with what appeared to be a hard right jab. He also had a great sixth round and hurt Davies again on more than once.
In the seventh, Davies continued to walk in like he did most of the fight with that leaning style against a southpaw. It reminded me of when Roger Mayweather (orthodox) fought Pernell Whitaker, (southpaw) years ago. As Davies came in, Taylor caught him with a monstrous right hook and sent him to the canvas. The only way Davies would stop trying in the fight was if the referee waved it off. Davies got up when a lot of other fighters would’ve packed it in. Taylor rushed in again and hit Davies who turned to the ref, waved his glove as if to ask for a timeout, held his damaged eye, and turned his head as Taylor kept trying to hit him. The referee stopped the fight. Here it is below:
This was a great win in what would’ve been a “Showtime ShoBox” main event if it took place in the United States.
Even more impressive is that Taylor didn’t look for a break after his brutal affair with Davies. In his next fight only three months later, Taylor took on former IBF World lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez.
Vazquez, a veteran of 44 fights coming in, gave Taylor problems early on. In the ninth round, however, Taylor’s effective aggressiveness paid dividends as a series of body shots took the gas out of Vazquez. A right hook to the body ended Vazquez’s night.
Check out the highlights:
Taylor’s name was being mentioned as an opponent for Ricky Burns, who at the time was WBA World super lightweight champion.
“I feel I am ready to go in with anybody, but it’s just about being smart,” he said.
“I need to earn the right to fight Ricky Burns. He’s world champion and I’ve only had seven fights. I’ve got to climb the ladder.
Burns has since lost the title and that’s a shame because it would’ve been a great fight.
I’m extremely excited about this prospect. Since he’s already 26, they’ll fast track him for a title shot and I think he’s just about ready. His amateur experiences have helped. In addition, as a pro he has won fights in Texas, Las Vegas, and New York. The New York and Texas fights were on undercards of Frampton vs. Santa Cruz.
This guy is the total package. He’s a southpaw, he throws every punch in the book. I like his movement and activity. He can throw to the head as well as the body with crisp punches. Miguel Vasquez was never stopped before fighting Taylor, and that consists of fights with Mickey Bey, Erick Bone, Denis Shafikov, Mercito Gesta, Breidis Prescott, Timothy Bradley Jr, and two (2) fights with Canelo Alvarez.
I’m excited about Josh Taylor and I expect him to challenge for a title by mid-2019, if not sooner.
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Name: Daniel “Dynamite” Dubois
W/L: 6-0, 6 KOs
You ever heard of a guy named Anthony Joshua? Well this 20 year old sensation from Britain is being tapped as the next big thing in the heavyweight division. Some speculate he’ll surpass Joshua when he gets to the same point “AJ” is in his career to date.
While I want to say pump the breaks on this kid, the truth is Dubois has demolished his competition so far.
The impressive thing is his competition in only six fights has a record of 52-15-1. Nobody on his leger had a losing record and although they aren’t world beaters, they all came in to win.
Dubois hasn’t fought past the second round in any fight so we will have to rely on the eye test.
One thing we know is that he dropped Anthony Joshua in sparring. I won’t make too much of that, but I’m just saying….
Dubois favors Joshua as far as his height, body type, and style. At 20, he’s taking the U.K. scene by storm. The good thing is he doesn’t seem fazed by it.
Exactly how good is he? We simply don’t know. The again, how good is Anthony Joshua? How good is Deontay Wilder? How good is Jarrell Miller?
Time will tell.
One thing we do know is this guy can crack! Some of his knockouts have lasted seconds, not minutes.
Mauricio Barragan, a fighter with a 15-1 record, was purposely brought in to give Dubois 10-rounds of work. A durable fighter, Barragan didn’t last two rounds as Dubois stopped him with a body shot.
I also hear Dubois is a monster and the gym and at just 20 years, how scary could he be four years from now?
He’s fighting under the Frank Warren Promotions and Queensbury Promotions banner. He hopes to make noise on the title scene in 2020.
“Daniel is one of the best, if not the best, young Heavyweight amateurs in the World today. I’m so pleased that he has decided to team up with us.”
“Martin Bowers is an excellent trainer and I know he will be able to get the very best out of Daniel. He is a great prospect and has a brilliant opportunity to make a name for himself and join the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Naseem Hamed, and Nigel Benn as a British boxing icon.”
“Naz didn’t go to the Olympics, Calzaghe didn’t go and neither did Ricky Hatton. Daniel can follow in their footsteps but we’ll need to show a bit of patience, he’s got a long and exciting journey ahead of him.”
“There’s a big buzz around what he’s done in the gym, sparring with the likes of Anthony Joshua, Joe Joyce and Derick Chisora. I really do believe he is going places and we’re going to work together to ensure that happens.”
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Daniel on board with us. It’s no secret that I like getting involved with guys at the start of their careers and helping with their development. In Daniel I think we have a very special talent on our hands. I think the fans are going to be in for a treat with him.”
“He’s one of the most talented heavyweights I’ve ever seen at this age, but it’s the way he puts it together already which is so impressive.”
I see a lot of promise in this kid. They have to continue to develop him. He has a big time showstopper in his right hand. However, he relies too much on it as he leans in to load up on it.
I’d like to see him develop his left hook, as he appears to be a one-handed knockout guy. While it has worked for some (Wilder), Dubois would be a beast if he works on the left hand.
He’s young and at age 20, his trainer Martin Bowers has time to fix things. Hopefully he gets some work so we see how he reacts to going six or seven rounds in a non-simulated fight.
Maybe a Kevin Johnson can pop his top notch jab in Daniel’s face until the midway point of a fight. Maybe another gatekeeper like an Adamek or a Rossy can give this guy rounds. The future looks bright for Dubois if he keeps working hard and developing the left hand.
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Name: Anthony Yarde
Division: Light Heavyweight
W/L: 14-0, 13 KOs
Anthony Yarde is definitely one to watch in 2018. The undefeated knockout artist fought five times in 2017 and won all of his fights by stoppage.
I’d also like to see Yarde work more on the left, but it is more developed as he throws it with more authority than Dubois.
Yarde has the athleticism and tools to be good. He’s very flashy and has pop to his punches. However, he could be more of a boxer than a KO guy which will serve him well when he can’t get guys out of there.
I like the left hook he throws. It’s good and has virtually ended some opponent’s nights early. If he keeps developing it, he will have one of the best left hooks in boxing.
He reminds me of a cross between David Haye with a Roy Jones type of athleticism. While it looks like his hands are down throughout the fights, he actually fights behind the left shoulder which is helpful defensively. Right now I’ll say he’s more Jean Pascal style-wise than Haye or Jones. With more fights he’ll become more fluid than Pascal.
I really like the fact that he mixes his punches up well. He loves to go to the body and that will serve him well as he steps up.
Yarde trains like an animal. Has a physique that would make a prime Evander Holyfield roll his eyes!
I like Yarde. It’s early, but he has great promise. He fights well on the outside and can deal with guys in the inside. Although his KO rate is high, I believe his future knockouts will come from breaking guys down and not from one punch. He’s more like an Evander Holyfield instead of a one-punch Mike Tyson.
He has an exciting style. He likes to play it up to the crowd. His athleticism, power, and activity will endear him to fans who watch him.
He has everything in his arsenal to become better than David Haye and based on his physique, he’ll be a cruiserweight one day. Maybe he’ll be a smaller heavyweight (Holyfield or Chris Byrd) before it’s all said and done.
I’m excited about Anthony Yarde. He’s one to watch.
Here are some highlights:
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Name: Ryan “Kinry” Garcia
Division: Super Featherweight
W/L: 13-0, 12 KOs
Ryan “Kingry” Garcia is going to be a problem. Golden Boy’s prized prospect is a 15-time National Gold Medal Champion. He’s a 5 foot 10 featherweight. That means he’s 130 pounds folks. The average height for a featherweight is about 5 foot 6 or so.
Kingry fought his 13th professional fight in 18 months when he faced Noe Martinez on ESPN in December. This kid is destined for stardom. He’s with the right promoter and has network backing as ESPN made the commitment to boxing.
Ryan had an incredible amateur record of 215-15 and trust me when I tell you, he is going to be a world champion.
Kingry has moved up the charts at a rapid pace. He’s currently ranked #62 in the world, and #10 US. So he’s now in the Matt Remillard, Omar Douglas, and Lamont Roach territory.
He’s scored nine knockouts in a row and the sky is the limit.
Ryan has some of the fastest hands you’ll see in the sport. Check out the hand speed in these clips clip below:
This kid is lightning fast. As you see, he can catch you and knock you out coming forward or with a counter punch. If Dubois and Yarde need to keep developing their left hooks, this kid is the sensei of the left hook.
Ryan Garcia has sparred with Yuriorkis Gamboa, Vasyl Lomachenko, Jorge Linares, and Shane Mosley.
Oscar De La Hoya (at the time of signing Garcia)
“His amateur pedigree is among the best I’ve ever seen; his skill set is far beyond his 18 years … I expect enormous things from Ryan and am excited to work with him as he embarks on a career that I’m sure will include multiple world championships.”
This kid is going to win a world title. I agree with Oscar, it will probably be multiple titles. He has a fantastic jab. He sets things up nicely off of it. His hand speed is on the level of some of the best I’ve ever seen. His height is something to deal with, especially in the weight class he is in and at least the next two classes.
If there is any weakness to him right now it’s that he needs to learn to fight on the inside. Other fighters will try to get inside on him and either hold, or try to rough him up. I’d like to also see him change speeds at times. This kid is so quick, but it would be nice to see a curveball mixed in between fastballs. If he learns when to use speed and power and mix it up, he will stop guys much quicker instead of dropping them numerous times.
This kid is well ahead of pace. I hope he stays as active in 2018. If both guys progress as they have been, maybe a Lomachenko super fight in 2020 won’t be out of the question. This kid can be THAT good if he continues to develop.
He is DEFINITELY one to watch in 2018!
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I’ll come back at the end of 2018 to see how these fighter progress.
Make sure you keep an eye out on these “Five to Watch”