By Jazz Gill:
Heavyweight – Magomed Abdusalamov (16-0, 16 knockouts)
Quietly going about his business in a spectacular yet efficient manner, Russian Magomed Adbusalamov has amassed a superb record undefeated record, with a highlight reel KO that makes him look like a white Mike Tyson.
A standout amateur, Abdusalamov lost to David Price in 2008 before he turned pro. Despite the physical disparities the two are very similar in status, both holding similar record and of similar age, with Abdusalamov also just as good at this stage. The 31 year old is short for a modern heavyweight at just 6ft 3in but he has a compact explosive style.
Although defensively he has looked a bit lax with a bit more nous Abdusalamov could have the perfect style to trouble the modern day giant heavyweight. With his huge left hook, the southpaw is right up there with anyone heavyweight today looking to fight a Klitschko. Having beaten former challenger Jameel McCline in his last bout the opposition is only going one way and with a win or two more he could be next up for a title shot.
Featherweight – Gary Russell Jr (22-0, 12 knockouts)
After showing promise as a young amateur when he became junior Olympic champion at 16 years old, Russell Jr was groomed towards winning a senior Olympic gold.
However, Russell Jr never got the luck needed to even get a chance to compete at the 08 Olympics, having passed out in an attempt to make weight and missed the weigh-in. So with less fanfare and without the gold he expected, the prodigy turned pro and has not disappointed so far.
Looking like a future legend in the mould of many of America’s greats, Russell Jr is a very skilled and gifted boxer, combining a accuracy and speed with a calm, intelligent approach. 22 fights into his career Russell Jr is now looking to step up and challenge for a world title.
In a division that is led by classy stubborn veterans like Orlando Salido and Chris John, becoming a respected world champion as a featherweight is going to be a difficult task but Russell Jr is a fighter that has it all there for him and could prove it all this year.
Super-bantamweight – Carl Frampton (15-0, 10 knockouts)
The protégé of Barry McGuigan has been something of a boxing marvel in Britain. Fighting in a style that belies his age, Frampton could arguably say at this stage of his career he has beaten better opposition than any one of his peers.
The 25 year old served his time as an amateur, fighting all over the world in over 100 fights and losing just eight. A boxer/puncher of real power, Frampton has a composed, measured style and has as of yet seemingly not got out of second gear.
In his last fight Frampton took on much experienced and established world champion Steve Molitor and just bullied him around the ring, eventually getting a 6th round TKO in a top notch performance. Frampton next will take on Spain’s knockout artist Kiko Martinez and will than look for big domestic clashes against the likes of Scott Quigg and Kid Galahad. McGuigan, through the Matchroom Promotions team, is guiding Frampton superbly, against a host of different fighters to get him the kind of experience he needs, especially with the likes of Abner Mares and even Nonito Donaire eventually on the horizon.
Middleweight – Peter Quillin (28-0, 20 knockouts)
The way most boxing pundits talk about the middleweight division, you would think that Gennady Golovkin and Sergio Martinez were the only fighters that existed. However, there is another champion in the division that is just as good and will be looking to prove it this year.
Born and raised in the USA but of Cuban heritage, ‘Kid Chocolate’ is a hungry, powerful fighter that at 29 years old is in the prime of his life. Were it not for nearly two years out through injury, by now Quillin could be a more established name but as it were, despite a host of impressive performances to match his exciting style, Quillin is still looking to gain the respect he feels he deserves – that of the best middleweight in the world.
In 2010 Quillin moved to L.A from New York to train under Freddie Roach and as an aggressive knockout artist, Quillin is a perfect match for Roach. One of the most intriguing things about Quillin’s rise up the middleweight division is that he has sparred many rounds against the other main contender for the middleweight crown, in Golovkin.
Having defeated everyone from up-and-coming contenders (Craig McEwan and Hassan N’Dam N’jikam) to wily veteran legends (Winky Wright), Quillin is ready for the best in his division and a huge fight beckons in 2013 for ‘Kid Chocolate’.
Light-middleweight – Cornelius Bundrage (32-4, 19 knockouts)
In a division headed by the biggest name in boxing and stacked with some of the most talented young fighters in the world, an experienced but still hungry veteran is looking to prove he is the biggest dog among the pack.
Former contestant on reality TV show ‘The Contender’, Cornelius ‘K9’ Bundrage is probably the most avoided champion in the world today. Schooled at the prestigious Kronk Gym of Detroit, the former student of Emmanuel Steward is a danger for anyone in his division right now. Very powerful and with decent skills, the devout Christian is convinced now is his time to shine.
A fight against fellow veteran and reality show contestant Ishe Smith is scheduled for February but from there Bundrage will be looking to continue on his run and is not scared of any comers, whether it be Floyd Mayweather, Austin Trout or Saul Alvarez. As the IBF title holder, one of these top names is going to have to look to fight him soon and at the age of 39 it could be now or never in 2013 for ‘K9’.