The Six Fighters To Watch From Matchroom/DAZN in 2021
At the end of the year, everyone loves lists, and especially if your state is currently in shelter-in-place due to the national pandemic.
This year we have taken this to heart and wrote a series based around each of the four major promoters, Top Rank, Golden Boy, Matchroom/DAZN, and a grouping of the remaining promoters so you can look for these fighters moving into next year, if you have missed boxing this year, are just falling in love with the sport, or fell out of love with the sport, and are coming back to see what you missed.
Let me explain the categories, THE PRESENT – fighters who are in their prime and I see as the forefront of the company they represent, THE FUTURE – fighters nearing their prime and generational talents, THE BUZZ – fighters with an immense buzz around them and excitement within fight fans and the industry, THE BREAKOUT – fighters who I expect to have an exceptional 2021, and THE PROSPECT – an up-and-coming fighter with not a ton of fights who should be on your radar.
Today we focus on the fighters to watch from Matchroom USA,
The Present – Anthony Joshua, Katie Taylor
Anthony Joshua is Matchroom. His events are the super-bowl for the promotion, and Joshua is up there with Canelo in terms of stardom, albeit he is one of the rare boxing stars, who has seemed uninterested in going to America, for long-durations, only fighting in the U.S., once, might I add he lost that fight, and am doubtful we see many more U.S. fights from him in the future.
Joshua has never been my favorite of the modern heavyweight as he feels like the Tim Duncan of these heavys, good at most things, but rather unassuming. His recent finish of Kubrat Pulev displayed some of the bad habits that got him caught by Andy Ruiz Jr., his sole loss, which is reaching in with punches as most heavyweights don’t have the ability to slip punches with their feet set, so he can get away with it. At the same time, Joshua showed his power, his ability to box, and his well-roundedness that made some, especially U.K. fans love his style.
Joshua is fun, he is one of the major heavyweights of this era, and if you’re from the U.K., he is the last heavyweight since Lennox Lewis that is formidable and totally repped their country well on a global stage. The thing is – Joshua is no Tyson Fury, he isn’t Muhammad Ali, but he is the tier below those, which is fine – it just seems the hopes are that he’d be so much more.
Joshua success in the ring directly correlates with the future of Matchroom, and for that matter DAZN, as he is the biggest exclusive asset they have. Every fight Joshua is in is a big fight.
Katie Taylor is a decorated amateur, who had instant success as a pro, and essentially, not unlike Claressa Shields is already a hall-of-famer, if all things are fair, one of the best women to ever fight.
The 173 win amateur, who has the country of Ireland behind her, has made inroads at propelling women’s boxing to new heights, as her last card, was an all-women’s fight card largely built around her.
Taylor had two fights this year, defeating Delfine Persoon, whom she had an extremely shaking majority decision win against last year, and Miriam Gutierrez.
Taylor has a few more years left in her career and is going to be involved with some of the biggest events Matchroom puts forth in 2021.
The Future – Devin Haney
Devin Haney has a lot of things he can do in the ring, and sometimes it feels like he gets stuck in a fight because he has too many options to choose from. Haney is young and emerging, tapping into a vibrant fanbase, as he is in a sense the “urban Justin Bieber of boxing”, as people have grown-up watching Devin Haney’s life on the internet, now have a relationship with him for their whole life, so they’re invested in his journey as a pro. Sort of like why vloggers are so successful, right? On top of that, Haney can really fight.
Haney is a talent and has a vision of ownership, as he has his own promotional entity “Devin Haney Promotions”, in which Darren Cunningham III is signed to, and top amateur Amari Jones quite possibly could be under their banner in the near future as well.
Not just does Haney have skills, Haney has vision larger than boxing, so his fans will be not just boxing fans, but people who have vast interests that crosspatches with Haney, give him the ceiling of being a superstar.
Haney outside of Joshua is the biggest thing on the network and platform currently.
The Buzz – Oleksandr Usyk
I am not sure many people watch the cruiserweight division, but Oleksandr Usyk earned everyone’s respect by fighting the world champions of the World Boxing Super Series in their hometowns and beating them.
It also spawned my realization that elite cruiserweights leave that division, and don’t stay there, as the heavyweight purse is a lot more than a cruiserweight purse.
Since that triumph of unifying all four world titles at cruiserweight and being the consensus boxer of the year, Usyk has made viral videos based on his quirky and humorous personality, but hasn’t quite gotten the same momentum in the ring.
Usyk who recently beat Dereck Chisora is by no means a vicious heavyweight, he is a craftsman, who is looking to fatigue opponents, and morally debilitate opponents by making them miss so often. Usyk has looked shaky at heavyweight so far, but he might also be fighting down to the level of the opposition he faces, as we go into 2021, Usyk will have to get a meaningful fight based on the respect he has within this promotion and his ranking within the division.
Two fights seem logical for Usyk currently, a bout with Anthony Joshua which would be a major event in which I feel the public would be split on who to take, or a rematch from the amateurs with surging contender Joe Joyce, who is coming off the biggest win of his career, stopping Daniel DuBois.
At 18-0, with 13 of his wins coming by way of knockout along with fighting in two divisions – Usyk is ready for an opportunity.
The Breakout – Savannah Marshall
The only person to beat Claressa Shields as an amateur is also making a name for herself outside of that achievement, as she stopped Hannah Rankin, a very durable female boxer who went the distance with Alicia Napoleon and Claressa Shields.
Marshall is currently 9-0 with 7 wins by way of knockout, and that is a record that is not common in women’s boxing, at all.
I have a lot of respect for the Fury family, and especially Peter Fury, and with Claressa Shields focusing more on MMA, I think we will see Savannah Marshall next year become a formidable fighter, who picks up steam and buzz in the pro ranks, not to mention I believe she will not just win a title next year, but also unify a title next year as well.
What is impressive to me the most about Marshall is how she has transitioned to the pros, and how her power is very REAL!
The first female fighter trained by Peter Fury looks to be a good one.
The Prospect – Marc Castro
Marc Castro was one of the dominant fighters in the amateurs, who had one of the best amateur careers in recent memory, but sadly was unable to compete at the Olympic Trials.
Castro is turning pro this week on Canelo’s card, and has a come-forward pressure style like Gennady Golovkin with high-volume. Beyond that, Castro gone viral multiple times, before even stepping foot in the ring.
I know some will hate the pick since he has stepped foot in the ring, but Castro is special and more than likely will be moved quickly.
Castro, who trained by his father, Tony, and managed by boxing power-broker Keith Connelly, has a solid foundation to go to the next level.