2016, while it certainly had its highlights, was largely a dark year for boxing.

Big fights fell apart, the proliferation of performance enhancing drugs in the sport seemed worse than ever and the tragic passing of Scottish welterweight Mike Towell in September showed just how cruel this sport can be.

It was a year to forget but January represents a fresh start and with some huge fights already in place and a host of rising talent set to breakthrough, 2017 could potentially be a massive year in the boxing world.

Below is a list of fighters that look set to make an impact in the ring over the next twelve months. Some already hold world titles, some will be hoping to fight for their first, while others are expected to make a breakthrough on the British fight scene.


De La Hoya

Diego De La Hoya

With over 250 fights, the undefeated super-bantamweight Diego De La Hoya has a stellar amateur pedigree behind him and is the current holder of the WBC Youth Championship.

Cousin to Oscar De La Hoya, the 22 year-old Mexican is also signed to the former world champ's own Golden Boy Promotions.

De La Hoya had a decent 2016 that included a stand out stoppage win over the previously undefeated Rocco Santomauro on the Canelo-Khan undercard in May.

With GBP's backing, don't be surprised to see Diego challenge for a world title himself this year.


Oleksandr Usyk

Ukrainian cruiserweight Usyk had a phenomenal year in 2016. He captured the WBO title in just his tenth professional outing and in doing so set the division record for fewest fights to a world title, breaking the mark of 12 held by Evander Holyfield.

Hard-hitting with neat footwork, 11-0 (10) Usyk is considered by many as the best in the division and the 2012 Olympic gold medallist wants to unify the division before moving up to heavyweight.

Expect a showdown with Britain's Tony Bellew at some point.

Smith Jr.

Joe Smith Jr.

New York's Joe Smith Jr. well and truly came from under the radar in 2016.

In June, the light-heavyweight obliterated the formidable Anderzej Fonfara inside a round. Considerably more impressive when you take in to account that it happened in his opponent's adopted hometown of Chicago.

Not one for sentimentality, he capped off the year by quite literally knocking future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins out of the ring.

The secret's out now and he'll be looking to mix it with best the division has to offer including Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev.

Honourable mentions: David Benavidez, Errol Spence Jr, Claressa Shields



Jack Massey

Derbyshire's hugely-popular and highly-talented Jack "One Smack" Massey looks set to have a busy 2017. The 11-0 fighter has recently been picked up by BoxNation and is set to fight on the channel several times over the next year.

With his popularity growing, Massey is going from strength to strength and is on course to become a British boxing star.


Josh Taylor

Backed by Barry McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions and trained by Shane McGuigan, Scottish super-lightweight Josh Taylor gets more and more impressive with each fight.

Currently 7-0 and with a 100% KO record, 'The Tartan Tornado' will be looking to build on his Commonwealth title win and an all-Scottish showdown with Ricky Burns has already been mooted for 2017.


Ohara Davies

Unbeaten super-lightweight prodigy Ohara Davies has the potential to be Britain's next big thing. Overcoming a series of tough tests in the ring in 2016, Davies looks like the real deal.

The Hackney-born fighter, who turned pro in 2014, picked up his first title when he stopped Andy Keates for the English lightweight strap last April.

Keep an eye out for the grudge match between him and Derry Mathews scheduled for the Haye/Bellew undercard.

Honourable mentions: Hughie Fury, Liam Williams, Craig Richards

Who did we miss? Who do you think will make an impact in the ring this year? Let us know in the comments.

Kieran Spratt


Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock comment cursor facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp ODDSbible