PBC Hot List: Top fighters who are scorching hot during the dog days of summer

Here’s a list of some of PBC's top rising stars. Boxers on this list are on a hot streak, like a slugger in baseball on a hitting streak or a running back in football who keeps posting 100-yard rushing games. They’re not ranked in any particular order. We’ll leave that to you—the reader.

PBC Hot List

Deontay Wilder, heavyweight (40-0, 39 KOs)

Following three months of failed negotiations to make a heavyweight unification bout with England’s 6-foot-6 Anthony Joshua, 32-year-old WBC king Deontay Wilder’s focused on returning to action in the fall toward improving to 51-0 with 50 knockouts, a feat that would surpass Floyd Mayweather Jr’s all-time record for career victories without a loss.

The 6-foot-7 “Bronze Bomber” ended his seventh straight stoppage in title defenses with a three-knockdown, 10th-round TKO of previously unbeaten southpaw Luis “King Kong” Ortiz 928-1, 24 KOs) in March, and faces a mandatory defense against former title challenger and once-beaten 2012 Olympian Dominic Breazeale.

Ortiz followed Wilder’s three-knockdown, first-round stoppage of Bermane Stiverne in November in Brooklyn, representing a rematch of the fight in which Wilder won the world title with a 12-round unanimous decision in 2015.

Mikey Garcia, 135 pounds, (38-0, 30 KOs)

Mikey Garcia, 30, will put his WBC 135-pound title up against the IBF crown owned by Robert Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) in a unification clash of unbeatens on July 28 at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Garcia earned his fourth world championship in a different division with a unanimous decision over IBF 140-pound champion Sergey Lipinets in March, scoring a seventh-round knockdown—the first of Lipinets’ career. Garcia has since vacated that crown.

Garcia won the 135-pound title on a third-round KO of Dejan Zlaticanin in 2017, later in the year, making a successful 140-pound debut with a unanimous decision over four-division champion Adrien Broner at Barclays in July.

Leo Santa Cruz, 126 pounds (35-1-1, 19 KOs)

Leo Santa Cruz has won three straight since a majority decision loss to Carl Frampton dethroned him as 126-pound WBC world champion in July 2016.

In succession, Santa Cruz won his rematch the same way over Frampton in January 2017, an eighth-round stoppage of Chris Avalos in October, and a battle of three-division champions by unanimous decision over Abner Mares last month’s rematch of Santa Cruz’s majority decision in August 2015.

Santa Cruz-Mares was declared an eliminator for the WBC crown held by southpaw Gary Russell Jr. (29-1, 17 KOs), but Santa Cruz also craves a trilogy with Frampton if not other 126-pound unifications opposite WBO champ Oscar Valdez or IBF titleholder Josh Warrington.

Efe Ajagba, heavyweight (5-0, 5 KOs)

A 6-foot-5, 230-plus Nigerian, Efe Alagba’s coming off a 35-second stoppage of Dell Long in May that represented his fifth knockout and fourth in the first round of as many victories without a loss during a 10-month career.

Nicknamed “The One And Only,” the 24-year-old Alagba shares corner man Ronnie Shields with and trains alongside two-division champ Jermall Charlo and former 154-pound titleholder Erislandy Lara at the Houston-based Plex Gym.

“Efe’s has the height, power, speed and instincts to be heavyweight champion of the world,” said Shields of the gold and bronze medalist in the 2015 African Games and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Marcus Browne, 175 pounds (21-0, 16 KOs)

Marcus Browne registered five knockdowns and three straight knockout wins during an 11-month period through January, and will pursue his fourth consecutive stoppage against Lenin Castillo August 4 at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale New York.

“Sir Marcus’” most recent victory was a first-round stoppage of Francy Ntetu on January 20 at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, where the left-handed, 27-year-old Staten Island native is 12-0 with eight KOs and 13-0 with nine KOs in the state of New York.

A 2012 U.S. Olympian who is rocketing toward title contention, Browne began his rise last year with KO victories in the sixth and second rounds over left-handed title challenger Thomas Williams Jr. and previously unbeaten Seanie Monaghan in February and July.

Jermell Charlo, 154 pounds (31-0, 15 KOs)

Jermell Charlo declared himself “the best fighter at 154 hands down” before his third WBC title defense, last month’s majority decision over Austin Trout. In victory, “Iron Man” improved to 5-0 (four KOs) against southpaws in the past five years, and remained on a collision course with unified counterpart Jarrett Hurd, whose first title defense was a 10th-round TKO of Trout in October.

Charlo, 28, flattened previously unbeaten southpaw Erickson Lubin in the first round in October, and in his previous fight, similarly starched left-hander Charles Hatley in the sixth round in April 2017. Trained by Derrick James, Charlo has sparred with left-handed welterweight champion Errol Spence, Jr., before each of his past three bouts.

Charlo made history with an eighth-round KO of John Jackson in May 2016 to win his crown, joining his twin, Jermall, as the first siblings to simultaneously hold 154-pound titles. Jermall made his 160-pound debut with a fourth-round TKO of Jorge Sebastian Heiland in July before earning an interim crown by second-round stoppage of Hugo Centeno in April.

Carl Frampton, 126 pounds (25-1, 14 KOs)

A 31-year-old two-division champion, Carl Frampton next fights on August 18 in his native Belfast against 2012 Olympic team captain Luke Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs) of Australia to follow up his unanimous decision over four-division title winner Nonito Donaire in April for the WBO’s 126-poud interim crown

“The Jackal” desires 126-pound unification bouts against WBO champ Oscar Valdez, WBC king Gary Russell Jr., or IBF titleholder Josh Warrington in order to force are a trilogy fight with WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz. Frampton has split bout with Santa Cruz, dethroning him as WBA champ by majority decision in July 2016 before losing their rematch the same way in January 2017.

By defeating Santa Cruz, Frampton became the second Irish two-division champion and first Northern Irishman to do so, joining former 160- and 168-pound champion Steve Collins and being named the PBC’s 2016 Fighter Of the Year after winning world titles in two weight divisions against a pair of undefeated champions.

Stephen Fulton, 122-126 pounds (13-0, 6 KOs)

A 5-foot-7, 23-year-old boxer-puncher from Philadelphia, Stephen Fulton weighed 122 ¾ for last month’s ninth-round stoppage of Jesus Ahumada, who entered their bout at 14-1 with 9 KOs but was stopped for the first time on the undercard of 147-pound champion Errol Spence’s first-round KO of Carlos Ocampo at The Star in Frisco, Texas near his home of Desoto.

Fulton prepared by sparring with two-division world champion Carl Frampton at the VIP Boxing Gym in Manchester, England, before Frampton’s unanimous decision over four-division title winner Nonito Donaire in April.

“Stephen Fulton was very similar to Donaire, but fresher, younger and a little bit stronger. With his strength and his weight in sparring, Stephen made it more difficult,” said Frampton. “Stephen’s an enormous talent and I’m very impressed with him. I genuinely think Stephen has the potential to be a future world champion.”

Tugstsogt Nyambayar, 126 pounds (10-0, 9 KOs)

Tugstsogt Nayambayar, a 26-year-old Mongolian silver medalist in the 2012 Olympics, rose from a first-round knockdown to secure a five-knockdown, third-round knockout of ex title-holder Oscar Escandon in May.

A threat at 122 or 126 pounds, “King Tug” has not faced a fighter with a losing record since his first pair of victories, and represents Mongolia’s biggest world title hope since Lakva Sim earned the WBA’s vacant 135-pound title via fifth-round TKO of Miguel Callist in April 2004.

Errol Spence Jr., 147 pounds (24-0, 21 KOs)

Errol Spence scored his 10th- and 11th- straight knockout victories in his first and second world title defense with one-knockdown eighth and first-round stoppages of two-division champion Lamont Peterson and previously unbeaten Carlos Ocampo.

“The Truth” vanquished Peterson in January at Barclays Center, and Ocampo (22-1, 13 KO) with a body shot in June at The Star in Frisco, Texas near his home of Desoto.

Spence, 28, earned his crown in May 2017 by 11th-round knockout of Kell Brook in Sheffield, England, making him the first American to earn a world title from an English champion on foreign soil since Tim Bradley upset Junior Witter in Nottingham, England for a 140-pound title in 2008.

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