Who’s got next: Five rising boxing prospects under 25 ready to become future superstars


If everything lines up as planned, professional boxing will make a return to live programming in the United States on June 9 when Top Rank promotes WBO featherweight titleholder Shakur Stevenson against Felix Caraballo in Las Vegas. 

It has been a long two-plus months for boxing amid the coronavirus pandemic as the sport has largely sat quietly while its combat brethren mixed martial arts — specifically, UFC president Dana White — pushed vigorously to become the first sport to return. 

But as the sweet science prepares for a summer return, it remains to be seen whether the biggest stars of today, like unbeaten welterweight champions Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., will be willing to cross network and promotional lines to declare who is the face of the sport at the moment. 

Just as interesting is trying to determine which fighters will be right behind them in, say, five years or so as boxing’s next great stars who combine commercial appeal with pound-for-pound greatness. 

The following is a countdown of the top fighters aged 25 and under who have the best chance to be on top of the sport in 2025 as the latest group of household names. 

5. Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), 21, lightweight

With over 6 million followers on Instagram alone, “KingRy” has built himself quite a crossover following, particularly as it pertains to the young female audience. Yes, he will likely continue to face criticism that he’s nothing more than a “pretty boy” inside the ring, which is the same myth his promoter (Oscar De La Hoya) and stablemate (Canelo Alvarez) were able to smash before him. A recent switch to join camp with Alvarez under trainer Eddy Reynoso has seemed to do wonders for Garcia’s confidence while helping smooth out a few of his technical wrinkles. 

Pros: Lightning-quick hands and good pop to go along with his growing, 5-foot-10 frame. His matinee-idol looks and cocky swagger could also help him surpass everyone on this list in terms of stardom should his talent catch up quick enough with his marketability. 

Cons: We have yet to see his chin and resiliency tested at a serious level through 20 pro fights. 

4. Devin Haney (24-0, 15 KOs), 21, WBC lightweight titleholder

Tabbed for greatness at an extremely young age, Haney fought off advances from every major promoter before agreeing to sign with Matchroom Sport’s Eddie Hearn in 2019 after much deliberation. “The Dream” is exactly that when it comes to combining all of the physical attributes to become the next great star in the sport. A perfect blend of power and speed with maturity and poise, Haney has only helped himself during the quarantine by working out with Floyd Mayweather, which has fueled speculation as to whether “Money” might be interested in training him. Either way, the comparisons Haney has drawn to great welterweights from Mayweather to Sugar Ray Leonard can’t be overlooked. 

Pros: From highlight-reel knockouts to slick boxing, Haney can literally do it all. Of all the fighters on this list, he has the brightest ceiling as it pertains to his P4P potential. 

Cons: He was essentially gifted his 135-pound title after the WBC’s controversial decision to name Vasiliy Lomachenko its “franchise” champion, meaning Haney never had to capture the belt from an established champion. Also, his decision to align with Hearn and DAZN could keep him out of facing welterweight fighters competing “across the street” with PBC once he moves up in weight. 

3. Teofimo Lopez Jr. (15-0, 12 KOs), 22, IBF lightweight titleholder

Without question, Lopez is the one fighter on this list who seems most ready to find out how great he can be right now. He wants all the smoke. Despite his outspoken father and trainer, Teofimo Sr., often nudging him by talking trash into fights his critics may not always feel he’s ready for, Lopez has passed every test. But what about Lomachenko, the Ukrainian wizard and P4P stalwart whom Lopez is expected to face later this year in a unification bout? Is that a bridge too far? Only Lopez, with his explosive finishing ability, can truly answer that question. Lucky for him, Lopez possesses such an incredibly unorthodox style that is difficult to prepare for, which has drawn him comparisons to Roy Jones Jr. from none other than the legendary fighter himself. 

Pros: Already a married man, Lopez is incredibly mature for a fighter his age and has navigated some difficult family drama to get to the top. He also learned a hard lesson from a distracted and flat decision victory over unbeaten Masatoshi Nakatani last July that proved to be a blessing in disguise. 

Cons: We still don’t know if Lopez is more style than substance when it comes to his pure ability to box when he needs to. It’s also too early to tell whether the influence of his father and the aggressive matchmaking will prove to be more harmful to his career than helpful. 

2. Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs), 25, WBA “regular” lightweight titleholder

“Tank” has far more headlining experience as a proven ratings draw and ticket seller than anyone on this list. He is also three years removed from having won his first world title. The problem, however, is that Davis has yet to consistently challenge himself from a matchmaking perspective, even as he enters a likely move to the pay-per-view level later this year against Leo Santa Cruz. His head start from a marketing standpoint is key. Promoted by Mayweather and presented as one of Al Haymon’s most important fighters under the PBC banner, Davis has created a crossover following within the hip hop and urban community. 

Pros: He has been described as the Mike Tyson of the lower weight classes given his explosive power and seems to possess a stronger ability to box than many of his biggest fights have demanded from him. 

Cons: Without question, Davis’ most dangerous opponent is himself. Having been no stranger to troubles with the law (including a recent viral video appearing to show him strike a woman in public), he has also had a consistent issue making weight. Davis must prove his focus and professionalism are on par with his potential as a breakout star. 

1.Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), 22, WBO featherweight titleholder 

Upset alert! As hard as it may seem to have Stevenson above much more complete fighters on this list like Davis and Haney, or more popular ones than Lopez and Garcia, there’s just something — call it an “it” factor — about him that’s hard to ignore. A silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics, the cocksure southpaw who was named after the late rapper and actor Tupac Shakur has largely toyed with opponents since turning pro and appears as if he hasn’t come close to showing how great he can be. Co-managed by former P4P king Andre Ward, Stevenson also has the right people around him, including another key mentor in Crawford, who has served as a sparring partner and “big brother” of sorts.

Pros: With world-class speed, the kid can box for days and appears to have an incredibly high fight IQ. He’s also an incredibly untapped star in waiting on the microphone with a charismatic personality and a love for trash talk. 

Cons: The question of whether he has enough punching power to defeat the top lightweights and welterweights he’ll eventually face in his path is an interesting one. So are fears over his maturity following a brush with the law after a fight in a parking garage. 

Honorable mentions: Vergil Ortiz Jr. (15-0, 15 KOs), 22, welterweight; Jaron “Boots” Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs), 22, welterweight, Daniel Dubois (14-0, 13 KOs), 22, heavyweight





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