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Boxing's Next Generation

By

Updated October 15, 2007
The biggest names – and box office attractions - in the sport of boxing are all nearing the ends of their careers. Some are technically still active but are no longer truly competitive at the championship level – which is not to say that they won’t be given another shot at a belt (or a big payday) whether they deserve it or not. Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Michael Moorer, Roy Jones Jr., Ike Quartey, Hector Camacho Sr. and Johnny Tapia all continue to fight from time-to-time but their best days are far behind them. Other veteran fighters – such as Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Felix Trinidad - are still at (or at least near) the top of their games but, realistically, are within a few short years of retirement. As a result, boxing is entering a transition period – a changing of the guard.

So let’s project two-to-three years into the future when most of the above names are out - or nearly out - of the sport. Which fighters will be among the next generation of boxing superstars? Who is going to command the multi-million dollar purses for big pay-per-view events? Obviously, some of today’s stars are still young enough to be a force in boxing for years to come: Floyd Mayweather (27), Manny Pacquiao (26) and Zab Judah (27) certainly have a lot of miles left in their respective tanks. The tougher question is which young fighters will make the difficult transition from talented prospect to true star?

Here then is a fearless forecast of a dozen fighters – all currently under 28 years of age and not yet "big money" fighters – who represent the "future" of boxing:

1. Miguel Cotto (24 years old, Junior Welterweight) – Already holds the WBO belt at 140. Wobbled by former champ DeMarcus Corley in last bout but survived to finish off the tough veteran in five rounds.

2. Jermain Taylor (26, Middleweight) – Has already defeated veterans Raul Marquez and William Joppy. Needs to hurry if he’s going to get a shot at Bernard Hopkins before The Executioner call it quits.

3. Samuel Peter (24, Heavyweight) – Destroyed Jeremy Williams in his only bout against a name opponent. Reminds some of Ike Ibeabuchi. Let’s hope Peter does a better job than Ike of staying out of trouble outside the ring.

4. Jeff Lacy (27, Super Middleweight) – After stopping Rubin Williams in seven rounds, the IBF champ called out undefeated Joe Calzaghe.

5. Kassim Ouma (26, Junior Middleweight) – This non-stop punching machine is the IBF beltholder at 154 and might be ready for a Shane Mosley or a Fernando Vargas ... if they're ready for him.

6. Kermit Cintron (25, Welterweight) – Gets a shot at WBO welterweight title on April 23 against current champ Antonio Margarito.

7. Ricky Hatton (26, Junior Welterweight) – Wins over Vince Phillips, Ben Tackie and Ray Oliveira are good but an upset of Kostya Tszyu on June 5 would make him a star.

8. Juan Diaz (21, Lightweight) – Already 27-0 and WBA champ and he’s only 21! Next defense against Ebo Elder on April 23.

9. Ricardo Juarez (24, Featherweight) – Looked awesome in first round stoppage of veteran Juan Carlos Ramirez. Needs a shot against either Juan Manuel Marquez or Manny Pacquiao to become a star.

10. Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov (27, Lightweight) – Recently stopped Koba Gogoladze. Not quite ready for a title shot but the tools are there.

11. Vivian Harris (26, Junior Welterweight) – WBA champ still seeking a high profile bout with Tszyu, Mayweather or Arturo Gatti.

12. Francisco Bojado (21, Junior Welterweight) – Already has two losses but - at only 21 - still has time to learn from mistakes and become a star.

Only time will tell which of these 12 fighters will emerge as true stars . . . but it will be interesting to check back on this list one year from now and see how each fighter has progressed as they step-up the quality of their opposition and get tested by the best in the business.

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