As 2019 comes to a close, every publication and boxing media outlet has there “Best of” this and that awards to hand out.
I was going to start mine after the Gervonta Davis and Yuriorkis Gamboa contest on Saturday night in Atlanta as there is still plenty of boxing to come down the pike as we all wait for the calendar year to come around.
Dan Rafael of ESPN on Christmas Eve dropped the present of his 2019 Prospect fighters of the Year. While I think it is a solid list and one that honestly isn’t too hard to argue, for the most part. Thereof course was a few names that didn’t make his cut that I think should be given more attention for their efforts in 2019.
2019 ESPN prospect of the year is @VergilOrtiz! My story on him & the rest of the best young talent in #boxing: @DynamiteDubois @IsrailMadrimov @KingRyanG @Filip_Hrgovic @JaronEnnis @AntuanneRussell @CharlesConwell @_Primetime718 @abrahamnova22 & others: https://t.co/dkPlwr50Sh
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) December 24, 2019
So I bring to you without any further ado the five names that I think you, Dan and the rest of the boxing world needs to keep an eye on that weren’t mentioned in the article by ESPN.
Gabriel Flores Jr.
Flores, 19 is the undefeated lightweight prospect (16-0,6 KOs) that out of all the names that were left off the list is one that I was shocked to see not one there at all. The Stockton, California native pretty much was the headliner in a homecoming bout he had in May and winning impressively against Eduardo Reis. What he has done this year is not only stay active (5-0) but has succeeded in his step-up fights to round out the year. With him stepping up the competition, he will also step up his presence as one of the many bright prospects under the Top Rank banner.
Azeez, 30 (11-0, 7 KOs) is the oldest prospect on this list, but as a proud member of the U.S. Chapter of the Dan Azeez fan club, it’s hard not to put the light-heavyweight prospect who is the current belt holder of the British regional title. Fighting under the MTK Global banner, he sports a throwback look which we like here at Big FIght Weekend that reminds us of Marvin Hagler with the high socks. His battles in the ring have been just as impressive.
If you have been watching any of the 360 Promotions fight cards on Facebook Live, the undefeated 24-year-old super welterweight (17-0,17 KOs) has without question been a force and a highlight reel on them. We’ll see what prospects are for him in 2020 as he may finally be on a fight card outside of The Avalon in Hollywood, California, but his ability to deal out knockouts is one to pay attention to.
If you have caught any Mayweather Promotion shows in 2019, one of the biggest standouts on the Sam’s Town Casino shows was the 22-year-old super featherweight (15-0,11 KOs). He honestly caught my eye back on the ShoBox: The Next Generation card back in April, where he mauled John Moralde. Martinez throws with bad intentions, and his latest stoppage back in November was just as impressive over Jessie Rosales. Keep an eye on Martinez as they continue to groom him in 2020.
Cordina has had a big year in 2019 as the undefeated super featherweight (11-0, 7 KOs) on the undercard of some of the biggest cards held in the United Kingdom. He also was impressive on all of them as well against step-up competition. The 2016 Olympian and British regional titleholder promoted by Matchroom Boxing will be more tough competition as the 28-year-old looks to take on more prominent names in 2020.
These are five names I felt needed to be added on a list that is well respected by Rafael even if Ryan Garcia is on it two years later.