2022 prospect of the year: Keyshawn Davis
Plus the rest of the top 15 in order; past winners year-by-year
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For decades, Top Rank has excelled in signing top Olympic boxers and guiding them to world titles and star status: Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Shakur Stevenson, to name a few.
Lightweight Keyshawn Davis, a multi-dimensional talent, appears to be next in line.
The 2020 U.S. Olympic silver medalist has been flawless so far as a professional and checks every box a talent evaluator wants to see from a young fighter: amateur pedigree, power, speed, reflexes, skills, defense, ring IQ and work ethic. His maturity, outgoing personality and charisma are bonuses.
Davis, who calls himself “The Businessman,” appears to be the total package and won’t need to be held back. He’s on the fast track to the top and by this time next year it is likely he will be a contender. But for 2022, Davis is the Fight Freaks Unite prospect of the year.
Davis was a promotional free agent — managed by his mother, Wanda — when he turned pro in February 2021 and landed spots on the Canelo Alvarez-Avni Yildirim and Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders undercards for two of his first three bouts. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn put on those events and was interested in signing Davis, as were other promoters.
Then Davis, who had claimed silver medals at the 2019 World Championships and Pan American Games, and had accumulated enough points to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, accepted a late invitation to join Team USA on the eve of his third professional fight. Three months later he was at the delayed Games that took place in Tokyo in August 2021.
With professionals now allowed to box in the Olympics, Davis took advantage and turned in a silver-medal run, which only enhanced his marketability. In late 2021, he signed with Top Rank and now seems well on his way to the big time.
The 23-year-old Davis, of Norfolk, Virginia, was 3-0 in 2022 — a non-Covid illness wiped out another fight — and he looked more like an experienced veteran than someone with less than two years of pro experience, even as he stepped up his competition and moved from scheduled six-rounders to eights and was placed on major cards.
Davis, who shares trainer Brian “Bomac” McIntyre with welterweight titlist Terence Crawford, was shutting out one-loss Esteban Sanchez before stopping him in the sixth round in April; knocked out veteran Omar Tienda in the fifth round in September; and shut out former featherweight and junior lightweight world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos over eight rounds on Dec. 10 in a fight in which he was so thoroughly dominant that Davis admitted to being a bit bored in the later rounds and said he wants to face much better opposition.
Top Rank plans to match him against stiffer opposition in 2023 — if it can find willing foes.
The rest of the best
(Name, record, division, age, hometown, promoter)
2. Jared Anderson (13-0, 13 KOs), heavyweight, 23, Toledo, Ohio, Top Rank
The 2021 prospect of the year remains on track as the best heavyweight prospect in boxing. “The Real Big Baby” is 6-foot-4, a muscular 240 pounds, light on his feet and a devastating puncher with a strong amateur background, including as the 2017 and 2018 U.S. national champion. But Anderson, who is managed by James Prince and trained by trained by Darrie Riley, is not only about landing one big punch. He has a solid jab, sound fundamentals and, by all accounts, a superb work ethic. He has gained tremendous experience by sparring around 100 rounds with heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who raves about him. Hand surgery limited Anderson to only two fights in 2022 but he stepped up his opposition against fringe contender Jerry Forrest on Dec. 10 for his first scheduled 10-rounder (though he has yet to be extended past six). After being briefly rocked by Forrest in the first round, Anderson brutally beat him down in an impressive second-round knockout.