The 21 Boxers To Watch In 2021
This is not a list of the 21 best fighters in the world, this is a list of the 21 emerging fighters and stars of the sport you should be aware of, who will emerge and go on to have great fights, and if you want to periodically check-in-and-out of boxing. These are the boxers I’d advise you to keep tabs on next year.
Here it is –
01. Canelo Alvarez – middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight
The face of boxing, what more can you say? Canelo Alvarez who only fought once this year, is now, a promotional free-agent after leaving Golden Boy Promotions, and is looking to have a career year in 2021, with more freedom than ever, and a slew of opponents to choose from Billy Joe Saunders to David Benavidez and more, it is hard to not get excited about the options for the biggest draw, and best fighter in the sport.
02. Tyson Fury – heavyweight
Tyson Fury might be the best heavyweight ever, as Fury dismantled Deontay Wilder in their pay-per-view bout in February, but sadly, that was his lone fight in 2021. Fury is a massive star, a massive personality, and only has a few fights left. In short, you need to watch every one of his last bouts, especially if he fights Anthony Joshua.
03. Errol Spence Jr. – welterweight
Errol Spence made a Vinny Paz-like comeback, as he recovered from a self-induced car accident to return to the ring against a top-5 welterweight Danny Garcia, and won decisively. Spence now holds the IBF and WBC welterweight championship, and along with Terence Crawford is in the top of the division. Spence is in his prime, and one of the best to do it currently.
04. Teofimo Lopez – lightweight
The young Teofimo Lopez is unlike anything we have ever seen before as catchphrases like “Against All Odds” and “The Takeover” captivated, his win over Vasiliy Lomachenko won most fight fans hearts. As Lopez won a form of every major title in only his sixteenth professional fight. Now, Lopez is the leader of the next generation, by taking and win such a high-risk fight, as, from this point on, Lopez will be a million-dollar fighter.
05. Charlo Brothers junior middleweight (Jermell Charlo) / middleweight (Jermall Charlo)
The Charlo brothers, Jermell and Jermall, have accomplished so much already, Jermall winning belts in two divisions, and Jermell becoming the modern-day Gerald McClellan with highlight-reel KOs. Beyond that they have now broke through into the mainstream with an appearance in GQ Magazine, as well as being quite possibly the best interviews in boxing. The Charlo brothers are what the world wants, whether the world knows it or not. The twin brothers also co-headlined a PPV beating two formidable opponents, as Jermell unified 154 lbs division, and Jermall Charlo defeated a man, many thought gave Golovkin a run for his money.
06. Terence Crawford – welterweight
Terence Crawford quite possibly could be the best modern fighter since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, but he is getting to his mid-30’s and needs a truly epic fight, sometime soon. Crawford’s skills are not the reason he is lower on this list than he should be, it is the fact that it has been hard for him to secure marquee fights, and content around his fights are very similar for each fight, making the fight week less exciting. Crawford, who stopped Kell Brook this year – is hopefully going to face Shawn Porter and Errol Spence in his next few bouts in career-defining fights.
07. Shakur Stevenson – super featherweight
The modern great – Shakur Stevenson. A master boxer, a silver medal Olympian, and already a featherweight world champion, as he is looking to via for his second world title, as he is the mandatory for Jamel Herring’s WBO super featherweight, to my knowledge hasn’t even addressed Stevenson, publicly. Stevenson has cat-like reflexes, supreme speed, a great ability to control the distance and one of the meanest stepbacks in the game currently. Stevenson is must-see-TV, and one of the centerpieces of boxing in the next decade.
08. Devin Haney – lightweight
With Devin Haney it isn’t just the in-ring action, as Kevin Gates, Lil Durk, and many more, A-list celebrities have walked him to the ring. Haney has all the tools in terms of ability being able to box, bang, and out-think foes, but one of his greatest attributes is his work ethic, as Haney is a tireless worker in the gym training hours on end, making it so, so conditioning and preparation will never be an issue.
09. Ryan Garcia – lightweight
Garcia is trickier than people think. Though he does pull straight back, and doesn’t “cut the pie” (angle out to the side), Garcia has a lot of power, length, and strength at the 135 lbs division, and on top of that his fighting style will create for entertaining fights. Garcia is an icon on social media, and for many people, Garcia is the only boxer, they know of, and Garcia has an appeal-like Oscar De La Hoya to grow the sport amongst different groups of people, who might not have enjoyed the sport prior.
10. Gervonta “Tank” Davis super featherweight/lightweight
Gervonta “Tank” Davis is another one of these transcendent stars of the sport, my only concern is what weight class he will campaign in, in the future, as Davis has as much talent as anyone on the list, the challenge will be to keep him focused and motivated during these marquee bouts. Davis is coming off a dramatic KO win over Leo Santa Cruz, a great Mexican fighter, who moved up to attempt to win a world title in yet another division. Davis like Haney has deep ties to the music industry and an explosive knockout style that will capture fans attention. Now we just have to see him keep this great momentum from this year going.
11.Naoya Inoue – bantamweight
In terms of skills the supreme talent of Japan’s Naoya Inoue might top the list. A devastating power puncher, climbing up the ranks has already obtained a world title in three different division. Inoue has exceptional timing, and is a generational talent, the big question now will the bantamweight fighter be able to capture the imagination of the general public.
12. Gennadiy Golovkin – middleweight
Gennadiy Golovkin has stated he wants to have a Bernard Hopkins-like career fighting into his 40’s, but it is hard to believe if you’re being honest. The man who held the throne for a set period of time at middleweight, is looking more refined with Jonathan Banks, but his body, and reflects appear to show to be that of someone of his age. Golovkin is an underrated boxer, but what got him to the dance was great power, and even better chin, I just don’t want Golovkin to stay in the game so long, we start to see him as a fighter passed his prime. This very well could be the last year Golovkin fights as a professional, if not, I believe we have a two-year window.
13. Juan Francisco Estrada – super flyweight
The great Mexican super flyweight is coming off a lousy performance against Carlos Cuadras in which Estrada appeared to regress, and looked very mortal, having some believing career long foe, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, will beat him, again in their rematch March 13th, on DAZN. Estrada is an action-fighter with a good sense of balance, sound punching technique, sadly – we’re seeing the great fighter towards the end of his career, like a lot of the lower weight fighters. Estrada is a great talent well worth a watch this year.
14. Kazuto Ioka – flyweight
Kazuto Ioka has been a star in Japan for nearly his whole career, and rather silent in the U.S. despite fighting on the Super-Fly 3 undercard, Ioka never got huge traction in the U.S. probably partially because HBO left boxing around the time of him coming to America, would’ve occurred. Ioka just beat Kosei Tanaka, who was a betting favorite against him, and now has himself in position for big fights if he chooses to move up a weight class against Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez.
15. Anthony Joshua – heavyweight
Anthony Joshua will always be a draw, and will always be an overachiever, as his accomplishment are crazy for how late he came into the sport of boxing (gold medal, multiple time heavyweight world champion). The new question will be, if he fights Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, realistically does he win? The question is iffy at best. Joshua is showing a lack of punch resistance to big shots, as well as at times spotty defense, and his biggest net asset – power, could be a risky one against those two names. Joshua has at least five more years in the sport, so Joshua is someone you can follow, and get familiar with for quite some time.
16. Vasiliy Lomachenko – lightweight/super featherweight
Vasiliy Lomachenko is one of the special fighters of his generation but will go down more so by how he responds to his loss to Teofimo Lopez this year. Lomachenko a major favorite, over Lopez, was soundly beaten and now the excuses are pouring out from his own social media accounts. Lomachenko, who had been struggling to become a boxing star, despite the achievements of two gold medals at the Olympics and winning a world title in three fights against Gary Russell Jr. Lomachenko will be looking to shake off the labels of “bad sportsmanship” and “entitled” in the coming year, as a generational talent, faced adversity for one of the few times in his career.
17. Deontay Wilder – heavyweight
Wilder went from being one the must-see heavyweights of this era, to become a figure that seems to be a product of the social media era. Not unlike Lomachenko after losing to Tyson Fury, and having at-the-time coach Mark Breland stop the fight, Wilder has blamed everyone, but himself, even making viral videos with very bold claims of tampering, conspiracy, and other awful acts upon mankind in a competitive sport. It was a sad year for one of the most exciting heavyweight who has one of the biggest punches the sport had ever seen, as everything that could go wrong did. Hopefully, 2021 places him back in the top-10 where he rightfully belongs.
18. Artur Beterbiev – light heavyweight
Light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev retired Oleksandr Gvozdyk in his last fight an impressive feat but hasn’t fought since. The fight prior he fought in Gabriel Flores Jr’s hometown and most of the fans left during his bout. Beterbiev is a top-5 all-time light heavyweight in my opinion, but we have to find a suitable foe to get us to invest seconds of our lives. In terms of talent, Beterbiev is there, but now we have to get him the exposure. Beterbiev’s next bout, a world title defense in Russia, against a lesser-known fighter, should serve as an appetizer for potential clashes with Joe Smith Jr., Dmitry Bivol, and even Canelo Alvarez.
19. Caleb Plant – super middleweight
You could put Caleb Plant or David Benavidez in this spot, but since Caleb hasn’t had the issues when it comes to weight, and losing a belt, we will include Plant as the guy to watch. Plant is an exciting boxer-puncher, who has the ability to move as well as solid power. A dynamic feature to Plant is his life story and his intensity inside the ring. Plant is a fighter who will be in marquee bouts.
20. Jose Ramirez – super lightweight
Many would put Josh Taylor here, but I still favor Avenal, California’s own Jose Ramirez, as Jose has picked up two world titles and will look to unify with Taylor this year. Ramirez is a homegrown star from the central valley of California who has moved into becoming a national star with marquee wins. Ramirez fights in a similar fashion as Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., and hopefully 2021 will see Ramirez get the acknowledgment he deserves.
21. Gabe Flores Jr. – super featherweight
A generational talent with a great following in his native Stockton, California, who people forget will only turn 21-years-old just this year. A young OG in the boxing game, who is wise beyond his years, is grinding hard in the gym and awaiting a big 2021, so he can begin to get mentioned with the greats of his era. Flores Jr is a special fighter, and one to keep on your radar as I expect him to be in a world title fight in 2021, or at the very least a title eliminator.