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The Top 10 Boxers to Watch in 2021

| January 10, 2021 6:37 am PDT
The Top Boxers to Watch in 2021

The new year is finally here, my friend, and it’s looking like it could be one to remember.

There are some huge fights on the horizon, and I’m confident that some fighters will have very big years.

Naturally, I’m looking ahead to the next twelve months with a lot of optimism. I’m talking the type of pure joy that Ned Flanders has on a bright Sunday morning. So, to celebrate the end of 2020 in the best way possible, I’ve decided to put together a list of the ten best boxers to watch in 2021. You’re welcome.

A couple of things to get straight before we begin — this isn’t a list of the pound for pound best fighters on the planet. Nor is it a collection of the best young boxers in the world right now. You will find fighters that match one or even two of those descriptions here, sure, but the aim of this list is to draw your attention to the boxers that will shine in 2021.

I’m going to start you off with a fighter that I believe to be one of the top young boxers on the planet right now.

Let the bell ring…

Israil Madrimov

Power in both hands and beautiful technical skills. Tremendous footwork and head movement. A boxing IQ that belies his 25 years on the planet…

If there is a prospect at light-middleweight set to have a breakout year, it’s this guy, Israil Madrimov.

Madrimov (6-0), a native of Uzbekistan, has a super impressive amateur pedigree. He has crossed the bridge to the paid ranks seamlessly and looks almost nailed on to be a world champion in the next few years.

2021 could be the year when the switch-hitter announces himself to the wider boxing fanbase. He is just one of a growing crowd of eastern boxers that look set to take over the sport.

Remember the name.

Bektemir Melikuziev

Another Uzbek with a 6-0 record, Melikuziev is also hoping for 2021 to bring him more success.

The super-middleweight southpaw, known as “Bully,” is a terrifying prospect. Built like a tank and with a left hand-forged in the lower depths of hell, the 24-year-old is on a pathway that some think will take him all the way to the top of the sport.

The Olympic silver-medalist will face former light heavyweight boogieman Sergey Kovalev in a 178-pound catchweight fight on January 30. If the bluechip prospect can get past the “Krusher” on the night, his stock will surge.

A future champion and perhaps one of the most exciting prospects in boxing today.

Ryan Garcia

Speaking of prospects, Golden Boy Promotions’ golden boy, Ryan Garcia (21-0), is set for a big year in 2021.

Despite being dropped in the second round of his fight against Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell on January 2, Garcia came back and became the first fighter to ever take the Brit out inside the distance.

Something that the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko and Jorge Linares couldn’t do.

While a little too flashy for many fans, Garcia is perhaps the most marketable young sportsman on this list. A social media sensation, the Mexican-American is the man that Oscar De La Hoya believes can fill the massive void left in his stable following the departure of Canelo Alvarez in late 2020.

Garcia has a future in the sport. But 2021 should tell us a little more about just how far he can go in the game.

Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Garcia is an outstanding prospect. But as far as Mexican-Americans go, no one comes close to Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Ortiz (15-0) has knocked out all of his opponents thus far. Samuel Vargas, a former opponent of Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia, and Amir Khan, is the only man to have taken him past the sixth round. A knockout machine, the 22-year-old now stands at the precipice of glory.

Oscar De La Hoya referred to his prospect as “the future of boxing” in the summer of 2020, and it’s hard to argue with the former pay-per-view king.

Ortiz could emulate the likes of De La Hoya and Canelo to secure himself as boxing’s PPV king, providing he continues to dazzle inside the ropes.

The next twelve months will be crucial for The Ring magazine Prospect of the Year of 2019.

Jaron Ennis

Philadelphia has a reputation around the world for producing absolute killers.

Can Ennis (26-0) join the likes of Jersey Joe Walcott, Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, and, erm, Rocky, as one to remember from the “City of Brotherly Love?”

It’s far too early to predict that level of legend for “Boots,” but from what I have seen of the 23-year-old, he’s on track to be in the mix with the top welterweights on the planet within the next couple of years.

Ennis was well on his way to securing the IBO welterweight crown against South Africa’s Chris Van Heerden in December, only for a clash of heads to spoil his party.

Artur Beterbiev

Russia’s Beterbiev has been around for quite some time but has seen his career suffer due to boxing politics.

But, fans can hardly complain. Beterbiev is 15-0 and currently holds the WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles, making him one of the least likely candidates to secure a charitable, lifetime supply of tissues.

A powerful puncher with severely underrated boxing skills, Beterbiev can rule the light heavyweight division for the foreseeable. But he does have competition in Dmitry Bivol (17-0).

What a fight that will be. Make it happen, boxing gods.

Shakur Stevenson

Stevenson is as slick as they come.

Regarded by many as the premier young talent in US boxing, Stevenson (15-0) first caught the eye of the wider boxing world when he picked up a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.

The youngster signed on with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, making his professional debut the following year. He is a former WBO featherweight champion with exemplary boxing skills and a pang of genuine hunger to become the very best in the business.

Could Stevenson take over from Floyd Mayweather as the greatest technician in the sport? We will find out a lot more about the 23-year-old this year. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he has in store for us.

Teofimo Lopez

2020 was an insane year for this man.

Lopez (16-0) did what many boxing enthusiasts saw as highly unlikely when he beat then consensus pound-for-pound number one, Vasyl Lomachenko.

But he went one further than simply winning the fight with the Ukrainian icon. He outclassed him towards a unanimous decision to become the first undisputed lightweight champion since all-time great Pernell Whittaker. 

Lopez is a man with a target on his back, in a division of sharpshooters. Mouthwatering fights with Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, and a rematch with Lomachenko are all on the agenda. However, Lopez could decide to leave the 135-pound division behind him to move up to light-welterweight.

With that said, Lopez’s manager came out to dispel any notion that his fighter would be upping sticks, claiming that he will defend his titles at lightweight as early as March.

Naoya Inoue

Japan’s Inoue (20-0) fought just once in 2020, knocking out Australia’s Jason Maloney.

That was his first fight since returning from eye socket fractures in his incredible fight with Nonito Donaire in 2019. And boy, did he look good.

Inoue is ranked at #2 in the official Ring magazine pound-for-pound rankings, and it is tough to find any reason why he should not be in that position. Simply put, there are fewer fighters as devastating as “The Monster” in the sport of boxing.

In 2021, Inoue will continue to impress and will likely see his profile raised even higher. Now a member of the Top Rank stable, you just hope that the 27-year-old gets the big fights in 2021.

A fighter you cannot take your eyes off.

Tyson Fury

The talent on this list is colossal. But there is no one as bigger in the sport of boxing right now than Tyson Fury.

Fury (30-0-1) is my choice for boxing’s 2020 fighter of the year. And with a major fight against Anthony Joshua coming up in 2021 — I’ll tell you how you can bet on the fight a little later — he could easily end this year in the same position.

I can’t wait to see the “Gypsy King” in action again. He has revitalized the heavyweight division, ending the dominance of Deontay Wilder in the process.

If he can get past Joshua, Fury will become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the world since Lennox Lewis. Sure, his legend is already certain among fans, but there will no questions remaining of Fury’s ability inside the ropes with a dominant victory over AJ.

Predicting Boxing’s Best of 2021

Jeez, where do I start?

There is a lot of boxing ahead of us this year, and I’m confident that the ten guys above will be among the big standouts in the game. At the very least.

Look, we also have Canelo, Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Juan Francisco Estrada, Josh Taylor, Oleksandr Usyk, Manny Pacquiao, and countless other fighters that will be looking to further their legacies in 2021. But the ten guys above should all have a big twelve months ahead of them.

In that case, make sure to check in regularly on our boxing picks section as well as our blog for boxing in order to get the latest odds, bets, predictions, and insight ahead of the big fights in boxing in 2021!

Oh, and I almost forgot. I promised that I would share some Fury vs. Joshua betting content with you, didn’t I?

I’ll leave you with the following betting guide for what should be the biggest British fight in history…

Until next time!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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