12 U.S.A. Amateur Boxers To Watch Heading Into 2021
So who are the young fighters you should take heed of, and put energy towards? This is always a tough question as 1) most people don’t give any love to amateur boxing, 2) often we’re blinded by our love of the sport, and not what is actually happening, and our too proud to say when we’re wrong.
When you make lists like this it feels good, and it is helpful for those who don’t follow the sport, but it is also an open window of criticism around rankings. The rankings don’t mean much, I am looking at fighters who I have been drawn to – to put it simply, nothing more or less.
Not all will make it to the 2024 Olympics, but we are looking at the fighters not on the 2021 Olympic U.S. Team, and as of right now are still amateur boxers.
01. Nathan Lugo – Georgia
The 21x national champion Nathan Lugo trained by his father Mike Lugo, a formidable fight for anyone, having competed at multiple weight classes, and having brutal strength that will translate well to the pros.
When assessing young fighters, often people say a fighter has a pro-style, but Lugo truly has a pro-style, yet Lugo has been a winning amateur as well. Lugo took first place in Bornemissza Tournament international tournament as well as dominated U.S.A. nationals from 2017 onward consistently winning tournaments.
Lugo has a fan-friendly style and is getting knockdowns and stoppages when most don’t typically do that in the amateurs, repeatedly against the highest level of competition.
02. Steven Navarro – Southern California
The 10x national champion holding the #1 spot at 85 lbs, 95 lbs. and, 106 lbs, Navarro is right up there with Lugo, the only thing putting him at number two for me is his current size. Navarro fighting at a lighter weight currently which as a pro might mean fewer eyeballs potentially. Navarro comes from a fighting family as two of his relatives, Jonathan Navarro and David Navarro are both professional, and undefeated.
Steven is a southpaw, who is slick, but throws in combinations, in an L.A.-style, with solid head movement, and tremendous athletism. Navarro will be a hard person to beat out for the Olympic team if he chooses to go for 2024.
03. Joel Iriarte – Central California
17x national champion Joel Iriarte is earning respect, and then some. The pressure fighter from Bakersfield, California, has been split time between training with his father, and Robert Garcia’s gym in Riverside, California.
Iriarte throws at tremendous volume and looks up to a great Mexican legend, and combination puncher in “Finito” Lopez. If every someone wanted to label someone Jose Ramirez 2.0, this could be it as he has some of Ramirez’s strengths, plus the advantage of time, to learn from others’ mistakes.
Joel Iriarte will be a force in the pros and the amateurs, and is true Mexican-American fighter.
04. David Lopez – Northern California
“The Young Destroyer” David Lopez took time off from the sport of boxing, but recently was in camp with Ryan Garcia as well as is spending time in Las Vegas, Nevada, honing his skills, as he preps for competition.
Lopez has a great ability to gage distance, good timing, solid punches, and being brought along by season veterans. His father, Kris “Lightning” Lopez had David in the gym with veterans from an early age, and the local pros helped raise and give advice to Lopez, who is the most complete Bay Area fighter in some time.
Lopez will be a fighter worth-watching for.
05.Demontaze “Juicy” Duncan – Kentucky
Demontaze “Juicy” Duncan brings a lot of pressure at the middleweight division. Duncan is another fighter, who has a lot of a volume and a lot of power, and if one gets complacent, they could be in trouble.
Nicholas Bareis, Duncan’s coach, and guardian, has been pivotal in Duncan’s career, and there want to fight and spar the best has improved Duncan, immensely.
With refinement (simply time), Duncan could be one of the best fighters in this class, Duncan just has to work on not getting hit cleanly which can happen at times, but his pressure is none stop.
06.Cam’ron Patton Tennesse, Obed Bartee-El – Alabama TIE
Obed Bartee-El is a no-non-sense fighter, who is dedicated to his craft. Bartee-El has a work ethic that makes him stand out as well, as Bartee-El brings a level of intensity to fights not often seen, and fights like a veteran, very composed.
Bartee should emerge as a good fighter over the next few years.
Cam’ron Patton is an emerging heavyweight fighter, who all should keep their eyes on. We rarely in modern times have heavyweights who choose to box, and fill-out for the heavyweight division, as Patton is an athlete, with coordination, and a skillset.
Patton could be a major focus of the 2024 Olympic boxing team if he keeps progressing.
01.“Right Hook Roxy” Iyana Verduzco
21x national champion “Right Hook Roxy” Iyana Verduzco has all the making of the next women’s boxing superstar. With the talent, the look, the power, and working with her mom and Buddy McGirt, we could be looking at someone who leaves a lasting impact on the sport.
I doubt we will see Roxy amateur much longer, but as of now, I have her on the top of the list based upon the complete package she will bring to the professional ranks.
02. Citlalli Ortiz – Southern California
The 4x Mexican national champion, 7x U.S. national champion, and 2017 youth world champion, Ortiz has quite some credentials
The biggest puncher in all of the women’s boxing that I have seen coming out of the ammy’s is Citlalli Ortiz. Ortiz is a massive power puncher, who is currently looking to compete for the Mexican Olympic team in 2021.
Ortiz has a style that, if she chooses to turn pro, could capture the attention of many fight fans, as in many ways she is sort of like a female Gennady Golovkin
I know this is somewhat cheating since she will be in the 2021 Olympics for Meixco, but Ortiz doesn’t get enough praise so I included her.
03. Lupe Gutierrez – Northern California
The 4x national champion and 2019 Olympic Trials winner Lupe Gutierrez should’ve been the 2021 Olympian as she won the Olympic trials, but since the process isn’t solely based on the Olympic Trials, anymore she didn’t make the Olympic team. That being said, Gutierrez probably is the most skilled boxer at her age and is continuing to progress.
Gutierrez will become an Olympian in 2024, and is one of the fighting prides of Sacramento, California, a fight-rich city.
04. Sa’rai Brown-El – Georgia
The Georgia-based fighter trains with Mike Lugo, an elite trainer, has dominated the amateur scene winning every tournament she entered from 2017 onward.
Brown-El is a formidable foe for anyone, and such a promising fighter, USA Boxing sent a press release recently proclaiming her the future of boxing.
The 12x national champion is someone to keep on your radar as she could change women’s boxing in the upcoming future.
05. Sandra Tovar – Central California
5x national champion Tovar is a pure athlete and has been committed to boxing at a young age, in terms of the talent heading into the 2024 Olympic Games, Tovar to me is at the top of the list based on her foundation along with athleticism.
The fighting pride of Turlock, Ca, is will be a formidable foe for all, as Tovar has invested years into the sport of boxing, and has a diverse skillset.
06. Sierra Martinez – Texas
In the last two nationals, Martinez has beaten Faith Mendez, twice, Isabel Vasquez, twice and has given Fei Faiva her only two losses ever. In that time she has been selected to be the boxer of the year by USA Boxing and Under Armour, the year prior.
Add to this, that she won the gold medal in Canada against Alexa Kubicki and won the gold medal in the Silesian Games in Poland.
You’re looking at a special fighter.