Boxing’s top 25 under 25: ‘Bam,’ Pacheco, Zayas – Who’s No. 1?

Boxing

Teofimo Lopez Jr. was ESPN’s best fighter under the age of 25 in 2021. After aging out, Devin Haney took the top spot in 2022. Now, with Haney having turned 25 on Nov. 17, the No. 1 spot belongs to Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez.

Like Lopez before him, Haney also became the undisputed lightweight champion, and “Bam” Rodriguez, who’ll fight for the second time this year on Saturday, Dec. 16 in a flyweight unification bout against fellow champion Sunny Edwards, could follow on their steps after capturing a flyweight world title back in April. Rodriguez is also a former junior bantamweight champion.

The next four fighters on the list under the age of 25 have fought three times in 2023. In a sport where inactivity has kept top fighters out of the ring, it is a good sign the future of the sport is delivering not only in terms of activity, but also performance.

Heavyweight Jared Anderson emerged after a strong 2023 campaign to secure the No. 2 spot. In a division dominated by big names like Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and others in recent years, it’s good to have young faces making their way up. And he’s not the only heavyweight on the list. Prospect Richard Torrez, who has fought four times this year, has been impressive with KO wins in all his seven fights so far.

Lightweight Keyshawn Davis, junior middleweight Xander Zayas and super middleweight contender Diego Pacheco complete the top 5, but who are the other 20 fighters on the list?

Our panel of Mike Coppinger, Timothy Bradley Jr., Ben Baby, Nick Parkinson and Michael Rothstein voted and here are the results.


1. Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez (18-0, 11 KOs)

WBO flyweight champion
23 years old
2022 rank: No. 2  

The fighter: Rodriguez moved down a division to become a world champion in a second weight class in April, when he earned a comfortable, unanimous-decision win over Cristian Gonzalez to win the WBO flyweight title. “Bam” broke his jaw in the fight, which he said “wasn’t the best performance”. But his achievements this year, as he prepares for a title unification fight with Sunny Edwards on Dec. 16 in Arizona, are still enough to see Rodriguez climb to the top spot after Haney turned 25.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Rodriguez’s win over Gonzalez does not surpass his finest moment, an eighth-round stoppage over the experienced Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the WBC junior bantamweight world title in June 2022. It was such a jaw-dropping performance from someone so young against such an experienced world champion, who had reigned since 2017 and beaten the likes of Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. Rodriguez, a southpaw, floored Rungvisai with a left hand in Round 7 and then finished him off with a barrage of punches in the following round.

Future outlook: Rodriguez, ESPN’s No 1 flyweight, can tighten his grip on the top spot in our list if he can overcome rival champion Edwards (20-0, 4 KOs). Edwards is the IBF champion and a skilful operator but failed to shine in his last performance against Andres Campos. Since Rodriguez and Edwards are both promoted by Matchroom, there is a path for Rodriguez, with a win, to go on and become undisputed at 112 pounds as the other two champions, Julio Cesar Martinez (WBC) and Artem Dalakian (WBA), are also with Matchroom. — Parkinson


2. Jared Anderson (16-0, 15 KOs)

Heavyweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: No. 8  

The fighter: Perhaps the best young heavyweight from the U.S., “Big Baby” Anderson has developed into a bona fide contender in boxing’s glamor division. Naturally, it remains to be seen if he can contend with the heavyweight elite like longtime sparring partner Fury, as well as Usyk, Joshua and Wilder, but Anderson has proven capable thus far against lesser foes. A two-time national amateur champion, Anderson is ESPN’s No. 6 heavyweight and possesses proper size for the division at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Anderson’s toughest test came in July when he faced former titleholder Charles Martin in a homecoming bout in Toledo, Ohio. Anderson appeared hurt at one juncture and didn’t come that close to putting Martin away (as Luis Ortiz did last year), but he did win virtually every round against a legitimate gatekeeper.

Future outlook: Following that win over Martin, Top Rank’s matchmakers stepped him back with a fight against Andriy Rudenko, and Anderson delivered with a fifth-round TKO victory. There’s no doubt Anderson possesses the power to compete at the top level following wins over Jerry Forrest and George Arias that didn’t reach Round 4, but Anderson will soon have to prove he can with some truly dangerous opponents if he’s going to be heavyweight champ. That test likely won’t come against the heavyweight division’s big 4 in 2024, but sooner or later, he’ll need to fight someone in the top 10. — Coppinger


3. Keyshawn Davis (9-0, 6 KOs)

Lightweight prospect
24 years old
2022 rank: No. 12  

The fighter: Davis, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist has showcased exceptional hand speed, skill, punching power with incredible accuracy, and technical prowess in his fast-driven young pro career. With a versatile style and a firm grasp of boxing fundamentals, Davis adapts to different opponents and situations. His commitment to hard work, dedication and continuous improvement mirrors excellence. Davis’ pursuit of boxing perfection aligns with that of a champion. A few more testy matchups and the lightweight division will be on guard.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: In just nine pro fights, Davis boasts an impressive record, having faced opponents with a combined 177 wins, 29 losses and eight draws. His standout moment came when he dismantled Anthony Yigit, stopping him spectacularly in the ninth round. Yigit had a lot of experience going into that fight, having been in the ring with current lightweight champion Rolando Romero and former junior welterweight titlist Ivan Baranchyk, and the way Davis stopped him shows his overall skills and full potential.

Future outlook: Following Davis’ majority decision win on Oct. 14 against Nahir Albright, Davis’ tested positive for marijuana and the result was changed to no contest. Consequently, he is currently serving a three-month suspension, which has delayed his scheduled fight against experienced veteran Jose Pedraza in December. However, upon his return, Davis is determined to proceed as planned, with Pedraza still in his sights as a stepping stone towards a championship opportunity. — Bradley


4. Xander Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs)

Junior middleweight contender
21 years old
2022 rank: No. 9  

The fighter: Zayas is an incredible young boxer who has caught everyone’s attention. Even though he’s only 21, his boxing skills and physical strength have reached new levels. Even more impressive, he started his professional career when he was still in high school. Xander is super dedicated and focused on his goals, which makes him stand out from the rest. He has a great team of experts supporting him, and his promoter, Top Rank, has all the resources to help him become a champion and, hopefully, a Puerto Rican boxing legend.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Zayas’ biggest moment came against KO artist Robert Venezuela Jr., who demonstrated devastating punching power by securing 20 knockouts out of his 21 victories. There are still concerns about Zayas’ defensive skills but his composed performance against Valenzuela displayed remarkable maturity and focus, with his commanding jab dictating the fight and resulting in a knockdown and eventually stopping Venezuela in the fifth round.

Future outlook: On Saturday in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Zayas returns for his third fight in 2023, facing off against Jorge Fortea in the co-main event of Robeisy Ramirez vs. Rafael Espinoza featherweight title fight. With some regional junior middleweight titles already won, Zayas has ascended to contender status, leaving no room for error. As he progresses, his development must outshine his competition, silencing any lingering doubts. — Bradley


5. Diego Pacheco (20-0, 17 KOs)

Super middleweight contender
22 years old
2022 rank: No. 22  

The fighter: The 6-foot-4 super middleweight contender has been in prolific knockout form this year, registering three successive KO wins. After fourth round wins over Manuel Gallegos and Jack Cullen, Pacheco continued his development with a stunning finish in November, when he stopped for Marcelo Coceres with a right uppercut. The towering Los Angeles-born fighter is trained by Joe Benavidez Sr., father of David Benavidez, ESPN’s No. 2 at 168 pounds.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: The win over Coceres was impressive. Coceres had some success (one of the three judges even had it a draw at the time of the stoppage) but Pacheco mostly controlled the fight before finding a beautifully executed finishing shot in the ninth round. Coceres, who lost to Billy Joe Saunders in a world title attempt four years ago, was a harder test for Pacheco than his other two opponents this year. Pacheco was cut and lost rounds before finding the decisive opening, but this fight was very important for his development.

Future outlook: After dispatching Coceres, Pacheco called for a fight to be made against Edgar Berlanga. Coceres took Berlanga to points in 2021 (Berlanga won by scores of 96-93 on all three judges’ scorecards) and Pacheco’s Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is going to explore a possible clash between the two for 2024. After starting his career with 16 KO wins in the first round, Berlanga has not looked lethal in recent fights whereas Pacheco is flying with confidence, and many will favor the younger contender. — Parkinson


6. Brandun Lee (28-0, 23 KOs)

Junior welterweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: No. 10  

The fighter: Lee was creating buzz in 2021 following a string of emphatic KO victories, but his momentum has slowed down considerably following just one knockout win in his last four bouts. Perhaps most troubling, Lee was extended the 10-round distance by journeyman Pedro Campa in April in his most-previous outing. Still, there’s a reason Lee is so high on this list: he’s proven capable of defeating gatekeeper types and has shown flashes in the past.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: His victory over Will Madera in August 2022, when Lee was dropped for the first time in his career. He survived the knockdown and went on to defeat Madera via unanimous decision, proving his mettle against a veteran opponent.

Future outlook: As he approaches his age-25 campaign, Lee will need to step up both his competition and his performances to prove he’s more than just a formerly highly touted prospect. Certainly, he possesses the athleticism and power to fulfill his potential. But he’ll need to be more active after only one fight in 2023. — Coppinger


7. Jesus Ramos (20-1, 16 KOs)

Junior middleweight contender
22 years old
2022 rank: No. 15  

The fighter: It’s been a mixed year for the southpaw. After registering a seventh-round win over the previously unbeaten Joseph Spencer in March, Ramos lost a unanimous decision to one-time world title challenger Erickson Lubin in September. That defeat in the eliminator for the WBA junior middleweight title was a blow to Ramos’ progress, but he is still among the world’s top 10 at 154 pounds. There was some disagreement in the scores (117-111, 116-112 and 115-113), as statistics revealed Ramos outpunched Lubin (145-92).

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Even though he lost to Lubin, Ramos showed he is already good enough to compete at the top level. The decision caused debate and the entertaining fight has elevated Ramos’ profile. He remains as the No. 4 contender with the WBC and WBO governing bodies, so it was not a damaging defeat.

Future outlook: Ramos’ reaction to his first loss was a positive one. Rather than dwelling on defeat and blaming others, Ramos immediately spoke about improvement. “Next time, more pressure, more aggression. This is a learning curve,” he said. The best fight for Ramos is a rematch with Lubin, to avenge the controversy. A shot at WBC, WBA and IBF champion Jermell Charlo or WBO titleholder Tim Tszyu seems unlikely in 2024. — Parkinson


8. Edwin De Los Santos (16-2, 14 KOs)

Lightweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: De Los Santos embraces every challenge that comes his way. Youthful yet bold, his ambition knows no bounds. He possesses the agility of a cat, and his lightning-fast reflexes, plus his punching power, leave opponents skittish. A unique attribute lies in his mastery of the southpaw stance. This deliberate choice has given him an edge inside the ring, honing his skills and unleashing razor-sharp, devastating combinations that make his opponents fearful of engaging with him.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: After rebounding from his first loss in early 2022, De Los Santos delivered three stunning victories against top opponents: Luis Acosta, Jose Valenzuela and the hard-punching Joseph Adorno. This remarkable streak earned him the biggest fight of his career against Shakur Stevenson. Their bout was unforgettable and needed no replay, but served De Los Santos to gain some experience for future title fights.

Future outlook: De Los Santos is a problem in the lightweight division and has some potential lucrative showdowns with PBC stablemates Gervonta Davis, Isaac Cruz, or Frank Martin, which will promise to be must-see TV. With his old-school mentality, De Los Santos is determined to challenge himself against the best in the sport. — Bradley


9. Gabriela Fundora (12-0, 5 KOs)

IBF flyweight champion
21 years old
2022 rank: No. 17  

The fighter: Fundora, the younger sister of former WBC interim junior middleweight titlist Sebastian Fundora, captured her first full world title before her brother could do the same. Like her big brother, Fundora owns imposing size for her division at 5-foot-9, 112 pounds. She packs impressive power and has the amateur credentials to back it up. And now a world title, too.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Fundora won her first title in incredible fashion when she scored a fifth-round KO of Arely Mucino in October to win the IBF flyweight title. There aren’t a lot of KOs on the women’s side of boxing, especially with two-minute rounds, but it was no problem for Fundora in her toughest test yet. She unloaded punches on Mucino to score two knockdowns and hand Mucino her first loss since 2015.

Future outlook: Fundora appears to be a force to reckon with. She’s ESPN’s No. 2 flyweight and it might not be too long until she’s on the pound-for-pound list as well. With her considerable height and reach, Fundora appears likely to claim titles in multiple weight classes and she’s still just 21 years old. Soon enough — if not already — Sebastian will be known as the other Fundora. — Coppinger


10. Ricardo Rafael Sandoval (23-2, 16 KOs)

Flyweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: After losing a close decision to David Jimenez in an eliminator for the WBA flyweight title in July 2022, “El Niño” Sandoval has regained momentum with three impressive wins in 2023. First, he knocked out Jerson Ortiz with a body shot in the second round in February, before decision wins over Rocco Santomauro and Victor Sandoval. Ricardo Sandoval is exciting, a threat with his body punches that will inevitably feature in world title fights sooner than later at 112 pounds.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Sandoval’s left hook finish to the body to deal with Ortiz was impressive, but his punching power first caught the attention of the boxing world when he traveled to the U.K. in 2021 and dropped Jay Harris twice with the same shot in an eighth-round KO win. “I’ve never been hit like that,” said Harris after losing that IBF title eliminator. Harris had previously taken Julio Cesar Martinez to points in an unsuccessful attempt at the WBC title.

Future outlook: Sandoval has a top ten ranking with three of the world governing bodies, but a title shot is perhaps too optimistic for 2024. A great fight would be a rematch with Jimenez, who is in a similar position to him. With two of the champions at 112 pounds (No. 1-on-this-list “Bam” Rodriguez vs. Sunny Edwards) due to fight each other before Christmas, and then the winner possibly progressing to another title unification fight, opportunities are going to be limited at flyweight for contenders in 2024. — Parkinson


11. Elijah Garcia (16-0, 13 KOs)

Middleweight contender
20 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Just 20 years old, Garcia is already fighting on PPV undercards due to his talent and exciting fighting style. Trained by his father and grandfather, Garcia began boxing at age 11 and went on to win a U.S. National championship in 2017. He turned pro at 16 in Mexico since he couldn’t be licensed at that age in the U.S., but it wasn’t long before he was knocking out foes stateside, too.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: His best win came in March when he handed Amilcar Vidal Jr. a four-round beating that ended with Vidal laying on the ropes. Garcia fought two more times in 2023 and punctuated the campaign with an eighth-round TKO of Jose Armando Resendiz on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez-Jermell Charlo in September.

Future outlook: It speaks volumes that Garcia is already receiving placement on the PPV undercard of boxing’s top star, Alvarez, and it shouldn’t be long before Garcia challenges for a title in the shallow 160-pound division. He owns a good height for the division at 6 feet, packs a good punch and isn’t afraid to mix it up. It would be quite an upset if Garcia didn’t win at least one title. — Coppinger


12. Ginjiro Shigeoka (10-0, 8 KOs)

IBF strawweight champion
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: The Japanese boxer has emerged as one of the leading fighters at strawweight this year, capturing his first world title at age 23. He is the latest star from Japan in the lightest weight classes, aiming to emulate the success of Naoya Inoue, the three-weight champion, former undisputed bantamweight champion and current unified junior featherweight titlist, who’s also among the world’s best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Like Inoue, Shigeoka has thrilling knockout power. In April, he also knocked out former champion Rene Mark Cuarto with a body shot in the ninth round.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: After a no-contest with former champion Daniel Valladares last January, the southpaw Shigeoka won the rematch by fifth-round stoppage in October. Shigeoka dropped Valladares in the first round and dominated the fight until the stoppage. Shigeoka stunned Valladares with a right hand and then stopped him on the ropes.

Future outlook: Shigeoka is No. 2 in ESPN’s strawweight rankings and a fight against No 1. Oscar Collazo (8-0, 6 KOs) makes sense. Another unification title fight against the WBC champion seems unlikely though, as Yudai Shigeoka is Ginjiro’s elder brother. There are also big fights in the next division at flyweight for Shigeoka — fellow Japanese boxer Kenshiro Teraji is the WBC and WBA junior flyweight champion. Shigeoka will need to climb up the weight divisions to get bigger fights and recognition, but he has shown he has the power to do it — just as Inoue has. — Parkinson


13. Raymond Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs)

Featherweight prospect
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Ford, a 2018 National Golden Gloves champion, is a speedy southpaw with pop in both hands and the swagger to match it. At 5-foot-7, Ford possesses imposing size for a 126-pounder and the strength to handle foes on the inside. Slowly but surely, he’s been built into a contender by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Ford is coming off by far his best win, a unanimous-decision victory over former junior featherweight champion Jessie Magdaleno in April in San Antonio. The fight was Ford’s first 12-rounder and was a massive leap in competition after he fought mostly unrecognizable opponents. But in his first bout against a former champ, Ford rose to the occasion. He floored Magdaleno in Rounds 3 and 11 for the lopsided decision victory to get closer to a title shot.

Future outlook: Ford is slated to fight Otabek Kholmatov in early 2024 after Top Rank won the purse bid for the WBA vacant featherweight title fight. Kholmatov isn’t well known, but he’s a formidable fighter who is likely to be favored to win this contest that features two boxers fighting for their first title. The belt is up for grabs after Leigh Wood vacated the title to move up to 130 pounds. With a victory, Ford could be poised for big things in a division dominated by fighters outside the U.S. — Coppinger


14. Abdullah Mason (11-0, 9 KOs)

Lightweight prospect
19 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: A violent puncher with power in both hands, Mason has made mincemeat of nearly every opponent who’s stepped inside the ring with him. The southpaw likes to attack from the opening bell with blinding speed and can hook off the jab in an instant, making him dangerous in close quarters.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Mason picked apart Jose Cardenas with a one-punch KO last month, a straight left hand that his opponent never saw. Cardenas was puzzled by a throwaway jab and the finishing blow came right behind it. Suddenly, Cardenas was flat on his back for the count, further proof that Mason is a dangerous puncher.

Future outlook: At just 19, the boxing industry is already buzzing about Mason as not just a surefire future champion, but perhaps a pound-for-pound boxer in the making. Naturally, it’s too soon to say for sure given his limited opposition, but there aren’t many flaws in Mason’s game, particularly when it comes to the way he sets up his punishing shots. The sky is truly the limit for this Top Rank fighter. — Coppinger


15. Emiliano Vargas (8-0, 7 KOs)

Lightweight prospect
19 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: A dynamic puncher with quick hands and explosive combinations, the son of former champion Fernando Vargas possesses serious star qualities. At just 19 years old, Vargas has already received ample exposure on ESPN as he develops. He’s scored several crushing KOs against overmatched opponents, and so far, he looks the part.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: In his greatest opportunity yet, Vargas made easy work of Brandon Mendoza last month on the Top Rank undercard during Formula 1 Week in Las Vegas with a second-round KO. A series of chopping right hands sent Vargas’ opponent face first for the TKO win.

Future outlook: Vargas has the pedigree, the fighting last name and the support of Top Rank’s proven matchmakers. Now, he just needs time and experience to realize his potential as an athletic puncher. With his charisma and offensive-minded style, Vargas has the ingredients to become a bona fide star if his fighting ability matches up. — Coppinger


16. Micaela Milagros Lujan (14-1-1, 5 KOs)

Former IBF junior bantamweight champion
24 years old
2022 rank: No. 23  

The fighter: Lujan is the former IBF junior bantamweight champion, but the Argentinian has struggled to get significant fights in the last year and is now without a title after a rematch with Irma Garcia did not happen. She has had to make do with routine wins over opponents outside the elite in 2023 while Irma won the vacant IBF belt.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: In a first defense of the IBF belt, Lujan turned in a dominant display to outpoint Nataly Delgado by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 99-91 in November 2021. It was an impressive display from Lujan, then 22, in front of a big crowd and highlighted her potential.

Future outlook: Lujan’s best hope of climbing the pay ladder is to fight one of the junior bantamweight champions, or step up a division or two. When other women boxers have found themselves limited for opportunities, they have rolled the dice and fought at a different weight class. Lujan will also have to travel to get bigger opportunities and with this comes risk, but also the chance of bigger rewards. A big fight at home in Argentina would be against the experienced Debora Dionicius (36-5, 6 KOs), the former junior featherweight world champion. — Parkinson


17. Angel Ayala-Lardizabal (17-0, 7 KOs)

Flyweight contender
23 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Ayala hasn’t won a title yet, but he’s well on his way. He owns victories over two former champions and appears to be the next in a long lineage of Mexican action stars in the lower weight classes. A powerful puncher with a 12-round motor, Ayala throws punches with bad intentions, particularly for a 112-pound fighter.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Perhaps that came in his last fight, a controversial, razor-thin decision victory over former champion Felix Alvarado in October. Ayala showed his mettle by surviving a first-round knockdown, and with blood streaming down his face, rallied to outpoint Alvarado. But given the disputed decision, you might look at his victory over another former champion in Cristofer Rosales last year. That decision was definitive, with a shutout on one of the cards.

Future outlook: Ayala is ESPN’s No. 6 flyweight and is in line to fight for two different titles. He’s the mandatory for the WBC title held by countryman Julio Cesar Martinez, and he’s also in line for a shot against the winner of this month’s title unification bout between “Bam” Rodriguez and Edwards. Ayala has a good chance to defeat Martinez, so that matchup could loom next. — Coppinger


18. Caroline Dubois (8-0, 5 KOs)

Lightweight contender
22 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: If it wasn’t for Katie Taylor, the talented Caroline Dubois may even be a world lightweight champion by now despite having only eight professional fights. Dubois holds the fringe IBO belt, while Taylor has been in possession of the four major titles at lightweight for more than four years. Dubois is the younger sister of heavyweight contender Daniel Dubois and is a safer bet out of the siblings to win a world title in 2024. She only turned professional in February 2022, and hopes to fight for an interim belt if she cannot challenge Taylor next year.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Dubois won her title with a convincing, unanimous decision over Magali Rodriguez in September, flooring her opponent three times. It was an important step for Dubois, who took the women’s championship distance of ten rounds for the first time in a comfortable victory.

Future outlook: Taylor, who is 15 years older than Dubois, defeated Chantelle Cameron at junior welterweight in their rematch on Nov. 25, and Dubois may not feature on Taylor’s shortlist of opponents she wants to face before retirement. Dubois might have to be patient and wait for her chance at one of the titles if Taylor vacates and then work to establish herself as the new queen at lightweight. Fights against Cameron and Sandy Ryan will feature in an exciting future for Dubois at 140 and 147 pounds. — Parkinson

19. Richard Torrez (7-0, 7 KOs)

Heavyweight prospect
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Torrez, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist, epitomizes the adage that size is no match for heart, guts and bullish effort. A true buzzsaw in the ring, Torrez starts fights explosively and unleashes merciless combinations from his dynamic southpaw stance. But his acute decision-making sets him apart, enabling him to maintain composure amidst heavy exchanges while remaining keenly alert and athletically agile.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: On Aug. 27, 2022, at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Torrez delivered a viral-worthy knockout, flooring Marco Antonio Canedo twice in a spectacular fashion. This pivotal moment — in only his third fight — solidified Torrez’s rising star status.

Future outlook: Standing at a generous 6-foot-2, Torrez’s compact yet tenacious physique with enormous leg strength makes him a handful for anyone. By all accounts, his size positions him as a sleeper in the heavyweight division. With a high-revving motor and an unbreakable spirit, he is determined to make his mark in the division. As his competition progresses, we will see exactly what his ceiling is. — Bradley


20. Floyd Schofield (16-0, 12 KOs)

Lightweight prospect
21 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: After an up-and-down amateur career with just six KOs in 54 fights, Schofield turned professional in October 2020 and has already amassed 12 KOs in his first 16 fights, all victories. Schofield is an athletic orthodox puncher who’s been featured on notable cards. And he’s delivered with an eye-catching style and plenty of power. He’s also been active, fighting four times in 2023 under the Golden Boy Promotions umbrella.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Schofield’s domination of veteran Haskell Rhodes in July was impressive. He knocked Rhodes down three times and won all 10 rounds in decisive fashion. But his first-round KO of Ricardo Lopez last week was his best outing so far. He landed 14 total punches and knocked down Lopez four times. That’s one knockdown every three punches or so in the 91 seconds the fight lasted.

Future outlook: “Kid Austin” Schofield is getting the attention of the boxing world. Jake Paul posted on social media after Schofield’s fight that he would like to see him against one of his Most Valuable Promotions’ fighters, undefeated lightweight Ashton Sylve. “Oscar let’s set up H20 versus Floyd for 2024. MVPs top prospect versus Golden Boys,” Paul posted on X to Schofield’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya. While Schofield won’t be fighting for a title in 2024, he’ll be one of the fighters to watch next year. — Coppinger


21. Jose Angel Gabriel Rosa (23-0, 17 KOs)

Junior welterweight contender
23 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: The southpaw Rosa has been busy in 2023, registering four stoppage wins from five fights all on home soil in Argentina. Rosa is exciting to watch and in great form, but remains adrift of title opportunities. His best ranking is No. 10 with the WBC.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Rosa demonstrated his steep curve of improvement when he faced Elysson Marquez in October. Rosa dropped Marquez in the third round before his opponent’s corner stopped the fight. In March, the pair had fought with Rosa triumphing by a unanimous decision.

Future outlook: Rosa is ready for a step up in class, to fight someone from the top ten which could accelerate his journey towards a title shot and bigger paydays. That means traveling beyond his native Argentina but he has shown he has the firepower to trouble anyone in the top ten at 140 pounds. — Parkinson


22. Dave Apolinario (19-0, 13 KOs)

Junior welterweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Apolinario comes from the Philippines, where legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao was born. The Philippines is famous for producing brave and determined fighters. Like his idol, Apolinario has mastered the same boxing stance and uses a powerful, straight left hand to knock out his opponents. Although he currently competes in the flyweight division, which is not well known, if he continues to win impressively and move up to higher weight classes, boxing fans will quickly start paying attention to him.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Apolinario secured a monumental victory with a spectacular first-round knockout of South African southpaw Gideon Buthelezi in July 2022, who was boasting a record of 23-5, 5 KOs at the time. This triumph stamped his status as a rising contender.

Future outlook: I admire his skill, patience, and passion in every performance, but what truly sets him apart in the ring is his punching power, a quality he possesses in abundance and that will eventually earn him a title fight. Remember Apolinario’s name, as his future looks incredibly promising in a tough division. — Bradley


23. Hamzah Sheeraz (18-0, 14 KOs)

Middleweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Sheeraz’s progress this year has been slowed by an ear injury, which will prevent him from fighting again until early 2024. Sheeraz stopped Dmytro Mytrofanov in two rounds in August for his 12th stoppage win in a row, but he is not all about power and has a commanding, long jab and can box as well. Ranked at No. 5 and No. 6 with the WBC and WBO, respectively, Sheeraz is destined to have multiple world title fights.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: Sheeraz continued his knockout form in his last fight when he stepped out of his comfort zone to quickly dismantle Mytrofanov in Poland. Previously, Sheeraz had boxed exclusively at home, but against Mytrofanov he successfully repeated what he had been doing in British rings. The 6-foot-3 middleweight dropped Mytrofanov four times and it caught the eye of fans since he was fighting on the same card as WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Usyk’s title defense against Dubois.

Future outlook: Sheeraz’s fight against Liam Williams has been pushed back to early 2024 after Sheeraz suffered a perforated eardrum in training. Sheeraz will continue to train in Los Angeles until he faces Williams (24-4-1, 19 KOs), who represents the biggest test of Sheeraz’s potential. Williams has previously fought for a world title, when he took Demetrius Andrade the distance for the WBO title in 2021, in a unanimous-decision loss. It will be a big fight on the U.K. scene and a chance for Sheeraz to increase his profile. “It’s a good fight for me at this stage of my career,” said Sheeraz. — Parkinson


24. Carl Jammes Martin (22-0, 17 KOs)

Junior featherweight contender
24 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Due to injury, the southpaw has fought just once this year, extending his unbeaten record with a wide decision win over Oscar Duge in August. His team has been working to secure a U.S. visa in order to take his career beyond the Philippines.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: A second round KO win over one-time world title challenger Komgrich Nantapech in December 2022 underlined how good Martin is. Nantapech took Donnie Nietes the distance in an IBF flyweight world title in 2017.

Future outlook: Martin is the No. 4 challenger for IBF champion Marlon Tapales. Fighting fellow Filipino Tapales (37-3, 19 KOs) would be a bold move for Martin, but don’t rule it out for 2024. Tapales has the formidable task of fighting Inoue to decide an undisputed champion at 122 pounds on Dec. 26. Veteran John Riel Casimero (33-4-1, 22 KOs), a former flyweight and bantamweight champion, is another highly ranked Filipino who will be linked to fighting Martin in the future. — Parkinson


25. Adam Azim (10-0, 7 KOs)

Junior welterweight prospect
21 years old
2022 rank: N/R  

The fighter: Like British star Amir Khan before him, Azim’s parents are from Pakistan, but the parallels don’t stop there. Azim is also an Englishman with quick hands and athletic footwork, and he’s burst onto the U.K. scene with some explosive KOs. With just 10 pro fights under his belt, “The Assassin” Hazim is unproven, but he did show his chops on the amateur circuit with 10 national titles and a No. 1 world ranking as a youth.

Biggest moment or accomplishment: That came in his latest outing, a 10th-round TKO of Franck Petitjean on Nov. 18. Petitjean was his most experienced opponent, and Azim proved he could carry his power late in the fight after flooring his foe in Round 5, too. Azim has gone the 10-round distance in his two previous bouts, so it was a good showing for him to stop his opponent in his first scheduled 12-rounder.

Future outlook: Azim has the charisma, style and skills to become a star in the U.K. in the mold of Khan, even if he never quite reaches those lofty heights. Promoter Ben Shalom seems to be moving Azim at an accelerated pace, too, with a 12-round bout in just his 10th pro fight. At this rate, Azim could face a real test by the end of 2024. — Coppinger


Other fighters receiving votes: Luis Reynaldo Nunez, Ernesto Mercado, Hopey Price, Adrian Curiel, Yoenis Tellez, Jim Sasaki, Joey Spencer, Joseph Adorno, Angel Garcia, David Cuellar, Callum Walsh, Vito Mielnicki Jr., Luis Rodriguez, Jose Valenzuela, John Orobio, Omar Aguilar, Floyd Diaz, Marc Castro, Phannarai Netisri, Sophie Alisch, Paddy Donovan, Moses Itauma, Pierce O’Leary, Justin Huni, Amari Jones and Nico Ali-Walsh.

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