Predicting the Next Boxers to Fight in a Main Event for the 1st Time
Boxing fans are always on the lookout for a new star at heavyweight. After handling Tomasz Adamek earlier this year, Vyacheslav Glazkov has inserted his name into that conversation.
With pound-for-pound star Guillermo Rigondeaux tragically underutilized since his defeat of Nonito Donaire, Top Rank and HBO should have their eyes on undefeated youngsters Tomoki Kameda and Carl Frampton.
Showtime and HBO only present a certain number of big boxing weekends a year, so spots on them are limited. A slot at the top of those cards is even harder to come by.
But the fighters on this list are on the cusp of those kinds of opportunities.
Tomoki Kameda, Bantamweight
Tomoki Kameda is the youngest of the three famous Kameda brothers of Japan. In English, his nickname translates as "The Ultimate Weapon of the Kamedas."
At just 22, Kameda is 29-0 with 18 knockouts, and he's already the WBO bantamweight champion. He's trained and fought in Mexico since his amateur days, where he's earned a second nickname, "The Little Mexican." So he's already got momentum in North America.
Next month he'll fight on the undercard of the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara pay-per-view. This kind of showcase sets him up for bigger things down the line.
I'm sure Golden Boy would love to match him with Leo Santa Cruz at 122 pounds. He might be even more valuable for Top Rank as an opponent for Guillermo Rigondeaux, perhaps on a card in Macau, China.
Carl Frampton, Super Bantamweight
Nicknamed "The Jackal," Carl Frampton is perfectly positioned to become the next boxing star out of Ireland. In the United States, being Irish always gives a prizefighter a leg up when it comes to breaking into main event status.
But Frampton has the kind of talent that's worth marketing. At 18-0 with 13 KOs, he's got a fight scheduled in September in Belfast against IBF super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez, whom he already beat by Round 9 TKO last year.
I expect him to win again. And once he has a belt around his waist, he should be a natural opponent for WBA and WBO champion Guillermo Rigondeaux in a major unification fight.
Viktor Postol, Light Welterweight
Viktor Postol is an undefeated light welterweight from the Ukraine who is well-positioned to break out with the North American fanbase. In May, he turned in a stellar performance against Selcuk Aydin, knocking out the former world-title challenger in Round 11 on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado card.
Postol's win over Aydin was more impressive than either Robert Guerrero's or Jesus Soto Karass' victory against the tough "Turkish Warrior." At 5'11", Postol has excellent length for a light welterweight and throws powerful combinations.
There are always plenty of big fights ready to happen at light welterweight, and in the wake of Chris Algieri's upset of Ruslan Provodnikov, the weight class is especially in flux.
I think Postol would make a tough matchup for anybody in the division. He should get the chance to prove it soon.
Jermall Charlo, Light Middleweight
The Charlo twins of Houston, Texas, have been on the radar with boxing people since they were teenage standouts on the national amateur scene. Jermall is the older brother by one minute and the taller by an inch, standing six feet tall.
At 18-0 with 14 KOs, Jermall was already scheduled to get his first title shot last March against IBF junior middleweight champion Carlos Molina on the Saul Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo pay-per-view until Molina had to pull out because Las Vegas authorities were holding him on a warrant from Wisconsin.
The fact that Charlo's handlers were willing to match him up with a wily veteran such as Molina so early says volumes. He's not the sort of prospect boxing people would be reckless with, and the folks handling Charlo's career know the sport very well. If they put him with Molina, it's because they were confident he would win.
It's only a matter of time before both Charlo twins are headlining on big cards. This could end up being one of the most productive cases of sibling rivalry in the history of the sport.
Jermell Charlo, Light Middleweight
The younger Charlo twin by a minute, so far Jermell Charlo has slightly outpaced his brother in the professional ranks, compiling a record of 24-0 with 11 KOs. His major breakthrough fight came last January when he torched tough veteran journeyman Gabriel Rosado by a one-sided, 10-round unanimous decision.
This performance was a major eyeopener for people who seriously follow the sport. Rosado put on far tougher fights against WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin and undefeated super middleweight contender J'Leon Love than he did against the 154-pound Charlo.
So far, Charlo is a leading contender for the breakout star of 2014. His days as a main event fighter are near.
David Lemieux, Middleweight
Middleweight contender David Lemieux is an exciting action fighter who has won 30 of his 32 professional fights by stoppage. As a native of fight-crazy Montreal, he's got a built-in fanbase.
Lemieux stumbled in 2011, losing back-to-back fights to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine. But he was just 22 at the time, and I think it was a case of him being matched against very experienced opponents just a little too soon, especially in the case of Rubio.
He's rebounded well since, winning seven straight and six by KO. His Round 3 knockout of former world-title challenger Fernando Guerrero in May was a dominant performance.
I'm not necessarily sold on Lemieux as a future world champion in the competitive middleweight division. But I do expect to see him headlining cards before long.
James DeGale, Super Middleweight
At the end of May, Carl Froch turned back upstart George Groves by Round 8 KO to retain his WBA and IBF super middleweight titles, once more cementing his place as Britain's top boxing star.
But while it's good to be king, there's always another hungry young lion outside the gate, waiting to challenge for dominance. On the same Wembley Stadium card where Froch beat Groves, James DeGale locked up his own status as the mandatory IBF challenger when he pounded Brandon Gonzales, stopping him in just four rounds.
DeGale is 19-1 with 13 KOs in his career. His only loss came by a razor-close majority decision to Groves. I'm not sure if Froch-DeGale could sell as many tickets in Wembley as Froch-Groves II did.
But there's no question it would be a major, high-profile fight.
Vyacheslav Glazkov, Heavyweight
In March, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Vyacheslav Glazkov recorded the biggest win of his career, beating two-division world champion Tomasz Adamek by unanimous decision. The win propelled him into the top-10 rankings at heavyweight.
Contenders often develop slowly at heavyweight, but at 17-0-1, the Ukrainian Glazkov looks all but ready to challenge either his countryman Wladimir Klitschko or WBC champion Bermane Stiverne.
Glazkov is not large by modern heavyweight standards and not overly athletic. He is very technically solid, though, and durable. Like any would-be heavyweight challenger, he might have to wait in line for a bit.
But expect his opportunity to come around.