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 (19-0, 11 KOs)
At 6 feet in height, 22-year-old San Antonio resident Mario Barrios is a tall order in the 140-pound division. He landed a vicious left to the liver of Jose Luis Rodriguez on June 11 that resulted in a seventh-round knockout, his third straight stoppage under trainer Virgil Hunter.
Barrios’ previous two victories were second- and sixth-round stoppages of Claudio Rosendo Tapia (December 2016) and Yardley Armenta Cruz (March 4) as he’s strategically risen in weight since making his professional debut at 122¼ pounds in November 2013.
In 2015, Barrios scored five knockouts in seven fights while competing at 130 pounds, and added three more victories last year as he made the jump to 135.
David Benavidez, 168 pounds (18-0, 17 KOs)
Training with champions before he was old enough to drive has prepared 20-year-old David Benavidez for his big moment, and he’s now on track to become the youngest 168-pound world champion in division history.
The 6-foot-2 Benavidez showed impressive power on May 20 when he scored three knockdowns during an eighth-round stoppage of former title challenger Rogelio Medina. Before making his pro debut in August 2013 at the age of 16 with a first-round KO of Erasmo Mendoza, the Phoenix native worked out with Gennady Golovkin at the 160-pound champion's camp in Big Bear, California, and has also sparred with former champions Kelly Pavlik and Peter Quillin.
Trained by his father, Jose Benavidez Sr., “El Bandera Roja” (The Red Flag) was 7-0—all knockout wins—before his 18th birthday, and has registered 13 of his 17 knockouts within two rounds.
Gervonta Davis, 130 pounds (18-0, 17 KOs)
When Floyd Mayweather Jr., says you’re going to become his heir apparent, people need to listen. Baltimore native Gervonta Davis went across the pond on May 20 to London, where the 22-year-old defended his 130-pound title with a third-round stoppage that included a final-round knockdown of previously unbeaten Liam Walsh.
The 5-foot-6 southpaw fought overseas for the first time in the initial defense of a crown he won 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 a clash on July 30 against southpaw former title challenger Fernando Guerrero. 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, 23, 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.”
Errol Spence Jr., 147 pounds (22-0, 19 KOs)
Errol Spence lived up to his nickname as “The Truth” on May 27, when the talented southpaw displayed two-fisted power, speed, accuracy, resiliency and athleticism on the way to earning his ninth straight stoppage victory and his first world title with an 11th-round knockout over British champion Kell Brook in Sheffield, England.
“I came here to his backyard. That’s what real champions do. I fought a real champion tonight and I proved to non-believers that I can fight,” Spence said. “I’ve proven I have a chin and I have true grit.”
Although slightly down on the scorecards after six rounds, the 27-year-old Spence, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, showed his toughness in the second half of the fight as he downed Brook in the 10th round before finishing him in the 11th, fracturing the Brit’s left eye socket in the process.
“I want to unify divisions. I want all the champions,” Spence said. “I want to fight the best, just like true champions do.”