Boxing is not a sport that one can easily jump into.
Many times, fighters have to build an impressive resume with dozens of wins before they can even get a chance at a major title.
Sometimes, however, boxers show enough experience at an early stage and are readily recognized by the boxing community as top contenders. It is in these cases that much hype is placed on the fighter and expectations are set for a bright future.
In the following slides I have singled out the top 10 fighters with less than 20 fights to their name (exceptions included). Expect to see men of vastly different backgrounds and sizes. Some you'll recognize, and some you won't; if you encounter one of the latter, congratulations—you now have a new fighter to follow.
Let's get to it.
At 18-0 with 14 knockouts, Pirog is doing work in the middleweight division.
Pirog was essentially picked as a tomato can for the undefeated American Daniel Jacobs. Pirog not only knocked out Jacobs, he also won the WBO world title and has since defended it.
He’s got a long way to go before he gets to Sergio Martinez’s level, but be sure to keep an eye out for the Russian Pirog.
Hirales is making waves in the junior flyweight division.
Currently 16-2 with one no-contest, Hirales avenged his last loss to Jesus Geles by knocking him out in the fourth round and winning the WBO Light Flyweight belt.
His twin brother Raul Garcia is also the WBO Minimum-weight champion, so in a way they’re like the Klitschko brothers.
Only, you know, much smaller.
Shumenov is currently 11-1 in his professional career, with his lone loss to Gabriel Campillo already avenged.
In his tenth professional fight, Shumenov rematched against the aforementioned Campillo and won the WBA title. Along with winning the belt, Shumenov also set a record for becoming the quickest man to earn a light heavyweight championship.
He’s already expressed interest in uniting all the belts in his weight class. Perhaps this could be the man that gives Bernard Hopkins a run for his money?
Despite being only 15-0 in the sport, Helenius is already a consensus top-10 heavyweight. He holds knockout wins over fighters such as Lamon Brewster and Samuel Peter.
Hailing from Finland, Helenius is just another example of the so-called “Eastern European” era of heavyweight boxing, alongside other notable boxers such as Nikolai Valuev and the Klitschko brothers.
Whether he could actually defeat a Klitschko is another matter, but for the moment his future looks bright.
With only eight professional fights to his name, Ioka may be the most inexperienced fighter on this list, but he's far from the least capable.
As a matter of fact, he’s already won (and defended) the WBC Strawweight title, and is currently ranked the number two strawweight in the world by The Ring Magazine.
Not bad for a 105-pounder who’s career hasn’t yet hit double digits.
Currently 17-0, the aptly nicknamed “Knockout Dynamite” has finished 14 of his opponents, including his last three WBA title defenses.
Although not a household name in the United States, Uchiyama remains popular in his native Japan and is currently ranked the no. 3 junior lightweight in the world.
With a 20-fight unbeaten streak, Ramos is ranked as high as the no. 2 junior featherweight in the world.
He most recently defeated Akifumi Shimoda for the WBA Super Bantamweight title, knocking out Shimoda in the seventh round.
Knockouts for Ramos are not commonplace, however; he’s only ever KO’d 11 opponents. They can’t all be Mike Tyson (sigh).
Although Angulo has had more than 20 fights, he’s on the list because 1: his 21st fight just happened last Friday, and 2: he’s pretty damn good at boxing.
Although he’s fought just once in the past year due to injury, Angulo is currently ranked the no. 2 junior middleweight in the world, behind Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto.
After his latest KO victory Friday, Cotto vs. Angulo is making a lot of sense at the moment.
Just like Alfredo Angulo, Mares recently won his 21st straight fight earlier this month so he’s being included on this list.
Undefeated, Mares’ most recent victory came over Joseph Agbeko in a bantamweight title unification match on August 13th. The match was very close, but he pulled away with the majority decision.
Currently ranked as the no. 3 bantamweight in the world, Mares could prove a very strong opponent for the division’s top-ranked fighter, Nonito Donaire.
Yuriorkis Gamboa is the current no. 1 featherweight in the world.
In 20 professional fights, he’s knocked out 16 opponents and brutalized the other four that went the distance with him. Press play on the video to see just how vicious “El Ciclon” is.
Hailing from Cuba, Gamboa also won a gold medal in the flyweight division at the 2004 Olympics, so his accomplishments in the sport aren’t just at the prizefighting level.
Gamboa is exciting to watch, so make sure you tune in to his upcoming title defense in September.