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Three Hot Prospects Poised for a Breakout Year in 2019

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  • Three Hot Prospects Poised for a Breakout Year in 2019

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    By Matt Andrzejewski

    THREE PUNCH COMBO -- Last year Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez had breakout performances that opened the eyes of many in the sport. They went from being considered promising prospects to potential superstars.

    So which prospects in 2019 could have the breakout type years that Haney and Lopez enjoyed in 2018? Here are three names to keep an eye on.

    Shohjahon Ergashev

    Ergashev (pictured) is a 27-year-old, 140-pound prospect who currently holds a record of 15-0 with 14 knockouts. Sometimes glossy records are not what they seem, but that does not appear to be the case for Ergashev.

    Ergashev hails from Uzbekistan and is a former member of the Uzbekistan national team having reportedly racked up over 200 wins as an amateur. He was also a four time Uzbekistan National Champion and holds an amateur win against 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakhram Giyasov.

    After Ergashev won his first six professional fights, all by knockout and all in Russia, he signed with Salita Promotions with the plan of eventually coming to the United States. Ergashev made his US debut three fights later with a second round stoppage of journeyman Marquis Hawthorne on the Jacobs-Arias undercard in New York. But it was Ergashev’s next fight on January of 2018 that opened plenty of eyes.

    Ergashev was matched against Sonny Frederickson on a ShoBox card at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY. Fredrickson entered the ring with an undefeated record of 18-0 and was himself considered a solid prospect. Most ring prognosticators considered this to be a 50/50 fight. However, Ergashev dazzled that night, putting on a display showcasing both his exceptional boxing skills and punching power in stopping Fredrickson in the third round.

    Ergashev would continue to be active in 2018 winning four more times with three of those wins coming by knockout. But many of these fights were not televised so he has been flying a bit under the radar.

    An aggressive southpaw by nature with very fast hands, Ergashev possesses legitimate one-punch knockout power in both fists. His footwork is exceptional and he is a master of using his feet to set up angles to land pinpoint power shots on his opponents. His potential is off the charts and 2019 may be the year where Ergashev’s career heads to that next stratosphere.

    Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov

    Continuing with the theme of power punching aggressive southpaws from Eastern Europe, there is Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov who currently holds a record of 13-0 with 10 knockouts. Fighting out of Russia, Rakhimov fights in the 130-pound division and is coming off a strong 2018 that has him positioned to make a big move in 2019.

    Rakhimov was a decorated amateur in his native Tajikistan and turned pro December of 2015. He has fought strictly in Russia since turning pro and has not received the fanfare of many other top prospects. At age 24, he has been on somewhat of a fast track and has been getting better and better each time he has set foot in the ring.

    After starting his career 11-0, Rakhimov took a leap up in class in his 12th pro fight when he faced Malcolm Klassen. A former IBF world super featherweight champion, Klassen came into the contest having won six of his last seven fights with the only loss coming by close decision to undefeated prospect Mikhail Alexeev. In what was supposed to be a test, Rakhimov dominated Klassen from the opening bell, putting the former champion down twice before stopping him in the eighth round.

    Next time out, Rakhimov took an even bigger step up in class in facing former world title challenger Robinson Castellanos. Many considered this fight to be a toss-up. And it certainly appeared to be so on paper with Castellanos considered by many to still be a top 130-pound contender having come off a close technical decision loss to then undefeated 130 pound champion Jezreel Corrales. But Rakhimov absolutely destroyed Castellanos, putting him down four times before the bout was waived off in round two.

    As stated, Rakhimov is an aggressive power punching southpaw. He likes to press forward working behind a stiff right jab and look to set up angles using some subtle advanced footwork to set up his power shots. Rakhimov is a committed body puncher and looks to bring his opposition’s hands down to set up openings upstairs. And the power is real in both hands. Defensively, he once had some issues but has considerably tightened things up of late. Showing a lot of improvement in 2018 with still more upside in his game, Rakhimov is a name to watch and one that may break into that next level in 2019.

    Ruben Villa

    While Ergashev and Rakhimov are aggressive power punchers, 15-0 featherweight prospect Ruben Villa is the opposite. A skilled technician, Villa, another southpaw, already is off to a strong start in 2019 and bigger things may soon be on the horizon.

    As an amateur, Villa, 21, racked up over 150 wins as well as a pair of National Golden Gloves championships. Of note, as an amateur he scored two wins over 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson.

    Signed to a co-promotional deal with Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing, Villa has been very active since turning pro in July of 2016. After finishing the second half of 2016 with three fights, Villa fought six times in 2017 and five more times in 2018.

    Villa already has one fight in the books in 2019 with a dominant eight round decision win against Ruben Cervera. Cervera entered the contest with a 10-0 record with nine of those wins coming by knockout and many thought he posed a threat to Villa. But Villa handled the step up in class brilliantly, showcasing his superior boxing technique in what was his U.S. television debut (the bout was broadcast on Showtime’s ShoBox series).

    Villa may not be a “sexy” pick to be a breakout star due to his slick southpaw style as well as lack of punching power but his skillset is impressive. I don’t make comparisons often but what I do see in Villa is a cross between Guillermo Rigondeaux and Paul Spadafora.

    Like Rigondeaux, Villa is hard to hit clean. Also like Rigondeaux, Villa can be patient and wait for his opportunities. He is quick to pick up on his opponents weaknesses and patiently waits for moments to exploit those weaknesses while not putting himself in danger of being countered.

    But like Spadafora and unlike Rigondeaux, Villa will have his moments where he becomes more aggressive. He will stand in front of his opponents baiting them to throw first. When they do, Villa is slick enough to generally avoid being hit clean in the pocket and then quickly unloads with precision combinations. It’s a risky tactic that not many in the sport have perfected but Villa has shown an ability to pull it off with his athleticism, hand speed and defensive prowess.

    Villa is probably not going to score highlight reel knockouts but he can dazzle with his boxing ability. Only 21, there is still plenty of room to grow and as 2019 progresses I suspect we see a few more performances from Villa like the one that opened the year.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel



  • #2
    I don't know how you know this much about these guys!

    Honestly I have not heard of, or from, any of the three.

    I'd say keep your eyes on:

    Nico Hernandez, the Kansas flyweight.

    And Daiyar Yeleussinov, the Kazak welterweight.





    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by KO Digest View Post
      I don't know how you know this much about these guys!

      Honestly I have not heard of, or from, any of the three.

      I'd say keep your eyes on:

      Nico Hernandez, the Kansas flyweight.

      And Daiyar Yeleussinov, the Kazak welterweight.




      I like Hernandez, think he has potential. Not familiar with Daiyar Yeleussinov but definitely trust your judgement and will be checking him out on YouTube.

      Comment


      • #4
        In my opinion, Ergashev has every bit the potential of the more hyped Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez. I think all three have quite a bit of potential but Haney and Lopez fought more on television than Ergashav (and his main tv fight was in January whereas the others had fights on tv later in the year) so they got the attention. But keep an eye on Ergashev and mark this down...in five years he will have accomplished more than Haney and Lopez.

        Rakhimov and Villa each also have quite a bit of potential as well as differing styles. Rakhimov is a bulldozer and a massive puncher. He could be a 130 pound version of someone like Beterbiev. And Villa is so slick and skilled. We saw that on Friday on ShoBox. He also holds wins against Shakru Stevenson in the amateur ranks. That says something about just how good he is.

        Comment


        • #5
          Boxing needs a "Rookie of the Year" award like baseball.

          Comment


          • #6
            Ergashev returns to the ring on Feb. 15 on a ShoBox card in the Wichita suburb of Mulvane, Kansas. His opponent will be beanpole Mykal Fox (19-0, 5 KOs), the younger brother of middleweight Alantex Fox. The Showtime press release states that Ergashev was 202-14 as an amateur.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ArneK. View Post
              Ergashev returns to the ring on Feb. 15 on a ShoBox card in the Wichita suburb of Mulvane, Kansas. His opponent will be beanpole Mykal Fox (19-0, 5 KOs), the younger brother of middleweight Alantex Fox. The Showtime press release states that Ergashev was 202-14 as an amateur.
              Really interesting undercard fight too on that show between Jesse Hernandez (12-1, 7 KO's) and Thomas Patrick Ward (25-0, 4 KO's). I saw Hernandez at Turning Stone last January (along with Ergashev) and he struggled against Ernesto Garza. But he has talent and one of those fighters who I think can learn a lot from such a tough fight. He should be tested too against Ward, very interesting fight in my opinion.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ergashev is a hot prospect.

                Another Eastern Bloc warrior.


                It will be interesting to see how he goes (when in) against someone that can capitalize on those (minor, but noticeable) defensive lapses and punch back . . . .

                Hard.


                Happy New Year Ceak Wunts.

                No, seriously, I love you all.



                Cheers,

                Storm.

                 

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