Boxers Most Deserving of Their 1st Chance to Win a Title
In earlier eras, boxers often had to plug away for years before getting their title shot. There are all-time greats like Holman Williams who never fought for a belt.
But in today's alphabet-soup era, title shots are relatively cheap. A talented rising prospect like Thabiso Mchunu is more than ready for a world-championship fight. I'd argue that the veteran Luis Carlos Abregu is overdue.
In today's scene, it's not the belt that makes the fighter, it's the fighter that makes the belt. Still, collecting titles is an important step in a potential star's career.
The fighters on this list are ready to take the next step.
8. Jermell Charlo
Jermell Charlo's twin brother Jermall was the one scheduled to fight for a title last March against IBF champion Carlos Molina, but the bout fell through when Molina was taken into custody by Nevada authorities due to an outstanding warrant from Wisconsin.
But it's Jermell who has truly done more to win a crack at a major belt. Since early last year, he's beaten nothing but top prospects and veteran journeymen, including Demetrius Hopkins in June 2013 and the always tough Gabriel Rosado last January.
His performance against Rosado was particularly impressive. He beat the Philadelphia veteran in a one-sided manner that very few opponents have ever managed. There's a lot of competition for title shots at junior middleweight, but Charlo's turn should come soon.
7. James DeGale
James DeGale has already knocked off two undefeated contenders in 2014. In March, he stopped Gevorg Khatchikian in 11 and last May he stopped Brandon Gonzales in four.
The Gonzales TKO was particularly impressive. Gonzales is a highly regarded former amateur who got robbed when he was awarded a draw against undefeated Thomas Oosthuizen in June 2013.
DeGale's only loss came in 2011 by a razor-close majority decision to George Groves. A rematch against Groves should take place at some point.
But given the great success of Groves' two-fight series with champion Carl Froch, I think it makes a lot of sense to plug in DeGale as the next young rival for Froch's belt.
The IBF designated DeGale's fight with Gonzales as a world-title eliminator. So, DeGale should be next in line for a shot at "The Cobra."
6. David Lemieux
Middleweight David Lemieux suffered back-to-back losses in 2011 against much more experienced opponents, getting taken apart and TKO'd by Marco Antonio Rubio and losing by majority decision to Joachim Alcine. But Lemieux has come back strong since, winning seven straight, including six by stoppage.
His last victory over Fernando Guerrero was particularly impressive. Lemieux battered the former world-title challenger and stopped him in three.
There's always a bit of a log jam at middleweight, but Lemieux brings a lot of excitement to the table as a challenger. He's won 30 of his 32 victories by stoppage. The fact that he's a native of fight-crazy Quebec will count in his favor.
Lemieux's turn is coming soon.
5. Thomas Dulorme
Thomas Dulorme is a great athlete with punching power. There's been a lot excitement around the Puerto Rican native since early in his career.
But in 2012 he was handled with relative ease by veteran Luis Carlos Abregu, going down by TKO in seven.
Dulorme was just 22 at the time and has rebounded strongly since. He has turned to elite trainer Robert Garcia and reeled off a nice string of victories.
In his last fight he was back down at light welterweight, which is probably an ideal division for him. He looked outstanding against the very tough, undefeated Karim Mayfield, cruising to a 10-round unanimous decision.
4. Vyacheslav Glazkov
Vyacheslav Glazkov won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. Earlier this year, he picked up the biggest win of his career, beating two-division world champion and former Vitali Klitschko opponent Tomasz Adamek.
The victory over Adamek improved his record to 17-0-1. It's also propelled him to top-five status in the heavyweight division.
Glazkov is unlikely to get a title shot in the near future. He's already got another fight scheduled for August against experienced journeyman Derric Rossy.
But Glazkov has established himself as an obvious contender now. He'll likely stay active and sharp for another year or so against opponents like Rossy while waiting for his chance to open up.
3. Viktor Postol
At 30, undefeated light welterweight contender Viktor Postol seems to be coming into his prime. The Ukrainian beat Henry Lundy in 2013 and earlier this year turned in an impressive performance against Selcuk Aydin, knocking the former welterweight title challenger out in 11.
It was a decision win over Aydin in 2012 that helped earn Robert Guerrero his shot at Floyd Mayweather.
The fight with Aydin was recognized by the WBC as a world-title eliminator, so the win should guarantee Postol a shot at Danny Garcia. Garcia will be very tough to beat, but Postol is deserving of the opportunity—and as ready for it as he's ever likely to be.
2. Luis Carlos Abregu
The welterweight division is always stacked with talent, so standing out and getting noticed can be tough. Even so, Luis Carlos Abregu is way overdue for recognition.
If he's not directly in line for a title shot by now, his name should at least be in the mix for relevant fights. Abregu is 36-1 with 29 KOs. His only loss came to Timothy Bradley, when he was fighting with a broken hand.
In 2012, Abregu was brought in as an opponent for undefeated sensation Thomas Dulorme. Instead, Abregu broke him down and stopped him in seven.
Last April in his native Argentina, Abregu beat 30-0-1 Jean Carlos Prada by Round 8 TKO. Abregu is a tough fighter, with power and ring intelligence. It's time he had his opportunity to really shine.
Thabiso Mchunu is a great example of why the cruiserweight division needs to exist. Listed as a generous 5'11", he's simply too short for the modern heavyweight division.
But his compact and powerful frame would have to be fundamentally altered to reach the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds. "The Rock" is a true cruiser.
The South African came up through the notoriously tough and competitive African scene and made his big breakout last August when he beat former top heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers. Mchunu followed up by beating Olanrewaju Durodola last January to capture the NABF cruiserweight strap.
At just 26 and with strong back-to-back showings in the United States, Mchunu is poised to bring major attention to the cruiserweight ranks.