1. Joel Jair Julio (21, welterweight, 29-1, 27 KOs)
2006 was a learning year for Julio as he went 4-1 (3 KOs). The loss came in June via unanimous decision against Carlos Quintana. Julio has since bounced back with two wins and remains a top prospect.
2. Andre Dirrell (24, super middleweight, 10-0, 7 KOs)
Dirrell went 5-0 (3 KOs) in 2006 against limited opposition. How limited? His last opponent, Cullen Rogers, entered the ring with a record of 8-14-2. Dirrell, who stopped Rogers in three, is ready for a challenge.
3. Rock Allen (25, welterweight, 10-0, 7 KOs)
Allen went 6-0 (3 KOs) in 2006 but also needs to get in with better opposition. All of his 2006 bouts were scheduled for six rounds and his most recent opponent sported a record of 5-7.
4. Vicente Escobedo (25, lightweight, 9-0, 9 KOs)
Escobedo went 5-1 (4 KOs) during 2006. The loss came in April against Daniel Jiminez in a close split decision. Escobedo has since rebounded to win three straight - two by knockout.
5. Vanes Martirosyan (20, junior middleweight, 11-0, 7 KOs)
Matirosyan went 5-0 (4 KOs in 2006). All five victories were in scheduled six-rounders against less-than-stellar opposition. Martirosyan is still just 20 but is another young prospect who appears ready to be tested.
6. Andre Ward (22, super middleweight, 10-0, 5 KOs)
The only gold medalist from the 2004 U.S. Olympic team went 3-0 (1 KO) in 2006. He's still fighting six rounders and needs to improve his defense before stepping up to the next level.
7. Amir Khan (20, junior welterweight, 10-0, 7 KOs)
Already a fan favorite in England, Khan went 6-0 (4 KOs) in 2006. Khan just recently turned 20 and it appears the plan is to remain patient and keep him busy against lesser opponents.
8. Chad Dawson (24, light heavyweight, 23-0, 15 KOs)
Dawson went 3-0 (2 KOs) and moved up to light heavyweight in 2006. Dawson was knocked down in the first round by Eric Harding but got off the deck to outpoint the unanimously outpoint the former title challenger. The win earned Dawson a title shot against WBC beltholder Tomasz Adamek on Feb. 3 in Miami, FL in what could be a great fight.
9. Abner Mares (21, junior featherweight, 10-0, 6 KOs)
Mares went 3-0 (1 KO) in 2006. Another youngter, Mares continues to learn his craft against 'safe' opponents.
10. Raul Martinez (24, bantamweight, 17-0, 12 KOs)
Martinez went 5-0 (3 KOs) in 2006. His last two fights were scheduled ten-rounders against veteran opponents ... just not good ones. Martinez is ready to face a top twenty bantamweight.
Summary: One prospect tasted defeat for the first time as a professional. Another earned a top ten ranking and his first shot at a world title. The other eight prospects remained undefeated against uniformly weak opposition, using 2006 to gain experience and prepare themselves for big things in the future. Stay tuned!
Coming Soon: Top 25 Prospects Under 25 for 2007