Predicting Which Boxers Will Win Their 1st Career Title in 2014
It's no secret that alphabet-soup titles are cheap in today's boxing scene. But that doesn't mean Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola won't be scrapping for all they are worth when they face off next year in a rematch with the vacant WBC heavyweight strap up for grabs this time around.
A gold belt might not mean what it meant three or four decades ago, but it is still a must-have item for any boxing star on the rise.
Carl Frampton at Super Bantamweight
Carl Frampton of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is a star waiting to happen. He's an exciting and talented fighter.
The undefeated boxer has already beaten IBF world champion Kiko Martinez by TKO. The alphabet-soup groups sanction interim world champions at the drop of a hat at the lower weight classes like 122 pounds.
So something will be wrong if Frampton isn't some kind of world champion by the end of 2014.
Raymundo Beltran at Lightweight
To many North American fans, Raymundo Beltran should have won his first world title in 2013. His draw against WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns in Scotland last September is one of the most unpopular decisions of the year.
He is the kind of hardworking veteran whom hardcore fans get behind. He's a longtime sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao who has consistently suffered from questionable decisions.
Even so, Beltran has fought his way up the food chain. If he doesn't get the rematch he deserves with Burns in 2014, he will at least get a shot at some type of belt.
Terence Crawford at Lightweight
The lightweight division is desperate for star power, and Terence Crawford will start 2014 in position to move up and provide some.
The former amateur standout is 22-0 with 16 KOs as a professional. He's shown high-level skill and fight-ending power against a fairly decent level of competition.
Expect 2014 to be the year that he makes a strong claim to supremacy at lightweight.
Kell Brook at Welterweight
Welterweight is the toughest division to win a title in. But England's Kell Brook has been positioning himself for a shot for the past couple of years.
He remains undefeated, and his most recent performance—a Round 4 TKO against former WBA champion Vyacheslav Senchenko last October—is probably the best he has ever looked. The fight was an IBF title eliminator.
Expect him to get a shot at a title belt against a beatable opponent in 2014.
Bermane Stiverne at Heavyweight
Last April, Bermane Stiverne broke Chris Arreola's nose and won a wide-margin unanimous decision. The fight was a WBC title eliminator and was supposed to earn him a shot at Vitali Klitschko.
But earlier this month Klitschko vacated the belt to focus all of his attention on the political situation in his native Ukraine. The WBC has ordered Stiverne and Arreola to rematch for the title.
Arreola rebounded well from his loss, demolishing Seth Mitchell by Round 1 KO last fall. He was five pounds lighter for the Mitchell fight than he was against Stiverne.
But Stiverne looked impressive against Arreola, and he can do the same thing again with the title on the line. In 2014, expect Stiverne to become Canada's first heavyweight champion since Tommy Burns more than a century ago.