The tiny island nation of Puerto Rico has produced some of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport.
Fighters like Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, Jose Torres, and Edwin Rosario are just a few of the ring legends for Puerto Rico who have been inducted in to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Miguel Cotto, Ivan Calderon and the great Felix “Tito” Trinidad should all be first ballot Hall of Famers as soon as they are eligible.
So who is the next the Puerto Rican icon in the sport of boxing?
Juan Manuel Lopez looked to be on his way, but after suffering two vicious knockouts at the hands of Mexico’s Orlando Salido, he may never be the same fighter again.
Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. was also on his way to reaching hero status until he suffered a couple of setbacks against Jorge Arce and Nonito Donaire. His next fight is against Mexico’s Rafael Marquez. With a win over Marquez, he could be back on his way to the reaching icon status in Puerto Rico.
For this list I will focus on young fighters who have not yet tasted defeat in the ring.
Although he’s never lived in Puerto Rico, Philadelphia native Danny Garcia is a Boricua fighter through and though.
Danny is currently WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion of the world. He holds wins over Amir Khan, Eric Morales and Nate Campbell, all former world champions.
At only 24, there is no telling how far Danny could go. With his career-altering upset knockout win over Amir Khan in his last fight, Danny put Puerto Rico and the world on notice that a new star in boxing has arrived.
I expect a huge Puerto Rican contingency to make their voices heard when Garcia headlines the first fights ever held at the new Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 20.
Thomas Dulorme seems to be a favorite prospect amongst boxing writers. With 16 wins in as many fights and 12 knockouts, there’s certainly a lot to be excited about.
Dulorme holds a 10-round unanimous decision win over division gatekeeper DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley. Since that loss, Corley has put his name back in the mix in the division with a couple big wins, which makes Dulorme’s near-shutout victory that much more impressive.
The WBC already rates Dulorme No. 1, but I wouldn’t expect to see him in with WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. any time soon. I have a feeling that Mayweather will drop the title or Dulorme will fight for an interim version.
A team of promoters that includes Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella and Javier Bustillo promotes him. With those kinds of connections, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dulorme become a regular on Showtime or HBO in the near future.
At only 22, Dulorme appears to have a long career ahead of him paved with championship gold.
Abner Cotto is a second cousin of future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto. With the last name Cotto and his family’s boxing pedigree, it’s pretty easy to see why this kid is on the list.
Cotto was a highly decorated amateur and represented Puerto Rico in tournaments throughout the world. As a pro, Cotto has an impressive record so far of 14 wins, no losses with six knockouts.
Cotto, 25, fights in the lightweight division just one weight class down from where his famous cousin won his first world title.
If Abner can accomplish half of what Miguel has, he could be on his way to one day having a cult following like his cousin does.
Dusty "The Beltway Boricua" Hernandez-Harrison (8-0, 4 KOs), like Danny Garcia, is not a native of Puerto Rico, but he is of Puerto Rican decent. He wears his heritage proudly into the ring, sporting trunks emblazoned with the flag of his mother’s homeland every time out.
Hernandez-Harrison made news last year when the decorated amateur, rather than chase a chance at Olympic glory, decided to turn professional at the age of 16 and had his pro fight just days after turning 17.
Since then, Hernandez-Harrison has been pursued by the biggest names in boxing. Top Rank, Golden Boy and Al Haymon have all reached out to the Washington, D.C., native.
With only eight fights under his belt as a pro, he is the least experienced fighter on the list, but he had close to 200 fights as an amateur.
During the next four months, Hernandez-Harrison is scheduled to fight three more times, and at only 18, the sky is the limit for this Puerto Rican fighting phenom.
The fighting Arroyo brothers, McWilliams and McJoe, of Ceiba, Puerto Rico, also could potentially become huge stars in their homeland and around the world. I know there are two of them, but I couldn’t put one on the list and not include the other twin.
Though McWilliams has already had a loss early in his career, he still has plenty of time to bounce back. He is actually considered by some the better prospect of the twins despite already suffering a defeat.
McWilliams competes in the flyweight division and has 10 knockouts in his 12 wins.
McJoe Arroyo fights a few pounds north of his brother at bantamweight, and he sports an undefeated record of 10 wins with five knockouts.
The Arroyos will most likely become stars together; they have been featured on many of the same cards. The brothers will next see action on Sept. 27 in Puerto Rico, when they both will fight in regional title matches.