Here’s a list of some of PBC's top rising stars. Boxers on this list have been 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. Other than alphabetical, they’re not ranked in any particular order. We’ll leave that to you—the reader.
Mario Barrios, 140 pounds (18-0, 10 KOs)
At 6 feet in height, 21-year-old San Antonio resident Mario Barrios is all tall order in the 140-pound division, where his past two victories were second- and sixth-round stoppages of Claudio Rosendo Tapia (December 2016) and Yardley Armenta Cruz (March 4), respectively.
Barrios has strategically moved up in weight since making his professional debut at 122¼ pounds in November 2013. In 2015, he scored five knockouts in seven fights while fighting at 130. He fought three times last year, including unanimous decisions over Edgar Gabejan (April) and Devis Boschiero (July) at 135 and 130 pounds.
Gervonta Davis, 130 pounds (17-0, 16 KOs)
When Floyd Mayweather Jr., says you’re going to become his heir apparent, people need to listen. Baltimore native Gervonta Davis, 22, has arrived and he will defend his 130-pound world title Saturday against Liam Walsh in London. It’s the first time Davis will fight overseas.
The 5-foot-6 southpaw won the belt in January with a seventh-round TKO over Jose Pedraza at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Davis is the first Baltimore fighter with a world title since heavyweight Hasim Rahman upset Lennox Lewis in April 2001.
Justin DeLoach, 154 pounds (17-1, 9 KOs)
Justin DeLoach is poised for important fights this year. The 154-pound boxer-puncher from Augusta, Georgia, has won his last four fights against opponents who were a combined 57-1-1 coming in. DeLoach ended 2016 with a 10-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Domonique Dolton before scoring a second-round KO of southpaw Chris Pearson in February.
“What I did in 2016, and the start of this year with Chris Pearson, no other prospect has done that. I was the only young prospect who was fighting the lions,” DeLoach said. “I think I was the underdog in all those fights. So, for me to come in and sweep those guys, I feel like I really made a statement and put the world on notice.”
Robert Easter Jr., 135 pounds (19-0, 14 KOs)
Standing nearly 6 feet tall, Robert Easter Jr. will defend his 135-pound world title on June 30 in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, against southpaw Denis Shafikov. Easter, 26, won his title with a hard-earned split decision over Richard Commey in September. Easter rebounded from an eighth-round knockdown and nearly stopped Commey in the final round of the Fight of the Year contender.
“My nickname is ‘Trouble,’ and I’m trouble for everybody in my weight class, so why not put our titles up against each other,” said Easter, whose ninth round with Commey was selected as PBC's Round of the Year. “Let’s make the fights happen. I know I have what it takes to out-class all of my opponents. If I could, I’d have all three of them in the ring at the same time.”
Mikey Garcia, 135 pounds (36-0, 30 KOs)
After nearly two years of inactivity, Mikey Garcia has returned with a vengeance. The 29-year-old Californian became a three-division world champion in January with a third-round KO of 135-pound titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin.
With the victory, Garcia improved to 7-0 with six KOs against current or former world champions. “I’m available to unify any of the titles,” he said. “If we can get the organizations to come together and unify the titles, we would love to do that. If not, maybe I’ll move up to 140 pounds by the end of the year.”
Jarrett Hurd, 154 pounds (20-0, 14 KOs)
Jarrett Hurd has stormed to top of the 154-pound division by stopping his last six opponents and eight of his past nine, capped by a title-winning ninth-round TKO of Tony Harrison in February. The six-foot-1 Accokeek, Maryland, native has a 76½-inch reach and possesses a splendid combination of speed, power and athleticism.
He earned his shot at the title when it was vacated by unbeaten Jermall Charlo, who is pursuing 160-pound opportunities. “We kind of had a couple of conversations that Jermall Charlo was going to vacate,” the 26-year old Hurd said. “After winning the belt, I was going to try to ask if I could [have] a hometown fight. Just to be able to be a world champion and fight [in Maryland], that’s definitely a goal of mine.”
Sergey Lipinets, 140 pounds (12-0, 10 KOs)
Sergey Lipinets is a rising 140-pound contender who has knocked out his last four opponents, including an eighth-round KO of Leonardo Zappavigna in December in a title eliminator. The 28-year-old Kazakhstan native doesn’t want to be compared to his fellow countrymen who have found success in the United States. If anything, he wants to stand on his own.
“I don’t want to be identified as a guy who resembles [Vassiliy] Jirov, [Gennady] Golovkin or [Beibet] Shumenov. I’m not trying to emulate any of them. I’m my own fighter with my own style,” Lipinets said. “I’m standing on my own and creating my own legacy, and that’s what I want to do.”
Erickson Lubin, 154 pounds (18-0, 13 KOs)
Orlando, Florida, native Erickson Lubin is hoping to land a title shot soon in the 154-pound division after defeating Jorge Cota by fourth-round TKO on March 4 in a title eliminator.
The 21-year-old southpaw has a chance to become boxing's youngest world champion. Currently, Japanese two-division champion Kosei Tanaka, who defends his 108-pound world title on Saturday and was born 3½ months before Lubin, holds that distinction. “My right hook has knocked out 11 people,” Lubin said. “Every time I throw that right hook, I throw it with bad, bad intentions.”