SCOTTISH boxing has been somewhat rejuvenated in 2012.
We now have a world champion proudly flying the saltire high for all to see but in addition, Scotland has a new breed of young fighters that have burst onto the domestic scene. So as a result, we at ScotBoxNation are now revealing our top 20 Scottish boxers to look out for throughout the year.
It doesnt’ matter if they are old, young, champions or challengers, any fighter that we believe will get people talking in the months to come is included. This list is not ranked by who is a better fighter, it is instead ranked as to who will make the biggest impact throughout the rest of the year. Please do get in touch with me on Twitter @CiaranShanks and share your opinions or comment on the blog itself!
20. GARY MCMILLAN (13-3-1) – Despite losing and drawing his first two professional fights at welterweight, the 25-year old has built up a solid reputation. The only other blemishes on his record have come against Gary Young and the recently retired Kevin McIntyre. After defeating Peter McDonagh last November, McMillan will hope for similar success against William Warburton on Alex Arthur’s Meadowbank card this Saturday.
19. STEVEN BANKS (4-0) – Another 25-year-old that could have a promising career ahead of him. After turning professional almost a year ago, the light middleweight from Motherwell will hope for increased success throughout the year.
18. KRIS HUGHES (15-2) – “Badger” is hoping to bounce back from his Commonwealth super bantamweight loss to the champion Carl Frampton back in January, only his second loss. The 24-year-old has previously defeated top domestic fighters including Michael Harvey and Youssef Al Hamidi and any future victories will certainly earn him another shot at the belt.
17. SCOTT HARTLEY (1-0-1) – The London-based rookie has been raising eyebrows down south, despite having only made his debut last November. The Alloa-born fighter is hopeful of conquering the light heavyweight division but will need to show plenty of courage and skill in a very tough division.
16. JOHN SIMPSON (22-9) – The inclusion of John Simpson on this list may surprise many after losing two fights in a row. However, 2012 is a crucial year for the Greenock featherweight as it could determine whether he continues in the world of boxing. The former British champion was defeated by Stephen Smith and Lee Selby last year and if he fails to score a win in 2012 then his career is inevitably over.
15. DAVID BROPHY (4-0-1) – Middleweight fighter Brophy had a successful 2011, having won all four of his fights. However, despite a highly controversial draw against Lee Noble last weekend in Motherwell, the 21-year-old is sure to bounce back even stronger.
14. STEVIE MCGUIRE (17-1-1) – Former Celtic super middleweight champion McGuire is a somewhat forgotten star in Scottish boxing. The 30-year-old from Glenrothes has had regular spells of inactivity throughout his career but has knocked up a number of solid victories. His most high-profile fight came in 2008 when he was defeated by Irishman Brian Magee for the British super middleweight title and did not return to the ring until 2010. However he fought his first fight of the year in March when he defeated he defeated James Tucker on points in his hometown. Time will tell if this will be the year that McGuire decides to fight more consistently at put himself in contention for a future title shot.
13. GARY CORNISH (6-0) – The Highland giant has become one of Scotland’s few heavyweight hopes. In the process, Cornish has become a cult hero in his hometown of Inverness and set to top the bill at the Drumossie Hotel in May.
12. EDDIE DOYLE (10-0) – Glaswegian light welterweight Doyle made it a perfect ten of victories in February with an impressive TKO of Gary McArthur, knocking him down twice to win the British Masters title. A technically sound fighter that can punish an opponent if they slack off against him, definitely a fighter to watch.
11. STEPHEN SIMMONS (4-0) – Simmons is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s hottest boxing prospects. The 27-year-old cruiserweight represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and was quickly snapped up by promoter Frank Warren who clearly saw the potential of the Edinburgh man. Simmons made a good start to the year with a comprehensive TKO win over an ageing Hastings Rasani but the best is yet to come.
10. JOHN THAIN (6-0) – Another one of Warren’s Commonwealth starlets, Edinburgh pugilist John Thain aims to stand out from the rest. The 24-year-old light middleweight is tall, athletic and has tremendous punch precision. With more time to hone his skills, Thain will certainly progress to become a top contender and could eventually face the likes of Jamie Cox, Prince Arron or even current British champion, Brian Rose.
9. MICHAEL ROBERTS (7-0) – There is absolutely no reason why Michael Roberts cannot become Scotland’s next super featherweight king. The 25-year-old of Balornock, Glasgow has greatly impressed since his 2010 debut, having won all of his fights by comprehensive points victories. His most recent fight came on an Alex Morrison show in Glasgow last month where he easily defeated journeyman Pavel Senkovs. Hopefully Roberts can follow in the footsteps of Scott Harrison and Ricky Burns in dominating the super featherweight scene.
8. JON SLOWEY (8-0) – Undefeated super bantamweight Slowey made waves last year after debuting in February 2011. The 21-year-old is as slick as they come with his hand skill being crucial to his opponents downfall. 2012 is certain to be a big year for the Glaswegian and is allegedly being watched for a future fight with Frampton, Scott Quigg or Rendall Munroe. The youngster is certain to continue his success throughout the year where he can stand out as a serious threat in a crowded division.
7. IAIN BUTCHER (3-0) – The Motherwell man is the youngest fighter on the list at only 19 years of age but he is set to make a big impact in the months and years ahead. The flyweight starlet was last week snapped up by veteran promoter Frank Maloney who believes Butcher has all the potential to become Scotland’s best flyweight since Paul Weir. His blistering hand speed and punching skill caught the Englishman’s eye and he is set to make his debut for Maloney on the undercard to the David Price – Sam Sexton fight next month. Without question, Butcher is Scotland’s next hope and could very well become a world champion with the raw talent he possesses
6. LEE MCALLISTER (34-3) – Had “The Aberdeen Assassin” defeated European light welterweight champion, Denis Shafikov in February, McAllister may have been much higher on the list. However, the 29-year-old retired on his stool in the eight round after taking a beating at the hands of the cool and clinical Russian. McAllister has been one of the most notable names on the domestic scene and has racked up an impressive number of victories against the likes of Stuart Green and Craig Docherty. However his losses have been when it has mattered most, against Shafikov and for the British lightweight title against John Murray in 2009. McAllister now needs an impressive run of victories to bounce back and prove his doubters, that believe he is simply not good enough, wrong. He talked up the possibility of fighting the likes of Amir Khan at Pittodrie Stadium if he had defeated Shafikov. If he wants to make that dream a reality, he needs to regroup quickly.
5. PAUL APPLEBY (18-3) – South Queensferry’s native son is hoping for even more success later on this year after winning the vacant Celtic super featherweight title from Stephen Ormond by unanimous decision on the Burns-Moses undercard last month. After a punishing loss to Liam Welsh last year for the Commonwealth title, Appleby will be looking to avenge that with a good run of victories that will see him climb his way back up the ladder. He has already been earmarked as a challenger for Gary Buckland’s British title and even though Appleby has been known to bite off more than he chew, you have got to fancy his chances.
4. SCOTT HARRISON (25-2-2) – His inclusion on the list is bound to be scoffed at by a number of readers. However 2012 could be the year that Scott Harrison makes his long-awaited return to the squared-circle. Ten years ago, “The Real McCoy” became WBO super featherweight champion and immediately wrote his name into Scottish boxing folklore. However his endless personal issues have plagued him throughout and culminated in him spending time in a Spanish jail for assaulting a police officer. More recently, he was arrested for causing a disturbance at a Tesco store in Glasgow and urinating on the shop window. This was before he was scheduled to fight on his promoter, Frank Maloney’s show in Blackpool on March 31st. Anything is possible with Harrison, just when it seems he has conquered his demons he immediately falls back into the abyss. He claims he will become world champion again by September, time will soon tell.
3. CRAIG MCEWAN (19-2) – While every other fighter on this list competes on the British domestic scene, Craig McEwan has been creating his own American odyssey. The 29-year-old middleweight is set for his first ever fight in Scotland, on the bumper Meadowbank show on Saturday having fought all his other fights in the US with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Despite losing his last two fights to top contenders Andy Lee and Peter Quillin, McEwan has already established himself as a solid competitor. If he can get a couple of good wins under his belt, then a rematch with either Quillin or Lee will be very much at the top of his to-do list.
2. KENNY ANDERSON (15-1) – Kenny Anderson has not had the best of starts to this year. The Edinburgh-born super middleweight king was supposed to face English prodigy George Groves in a rematch for the British title last month but Groves pulled out with an alleged back injury.
After suffering his only blemish in his fight with Groves for the Commonwealth title in 2010, Anderson went into a vigorous training regime in order to seek revenge. Anderson was furious with Groves for pulling out but he will now face Wayne Reed on Alex Arthur’s Meadowbank show. With Groves now challenging Robert Stieglitz for the WBO title, it is expected he will vacate the British title making way for Anderson to possibly fight Liverpudlian Paul Smith for the vacant title. Anderson possesses animal-like power but does not simply lash out with wild haymakers but instead opts to technically break down his opponent. It could be a very bright year for the 29-year-old.
1. RICKY BURNS (34-2) – It should come as little surprise as to who tops the list. Ricky Burns is Scotland’s shining star as the reigning WBO Lightweight champion and has built up a solid reputation as one of the toughest fighters in Britain. Having started as a super featherweight, Burns recovered from earlier career losses to Alex Arthur and Englishman Carl Johanneson to become Scotland’s only current world champion.
His inspiring victory over Roman Martinez in 2010, made him an unlikely national hero and has continually proved his doubters wrong with impressive wins over wiley Australian veteran Michael Katsidis and tricky Namibian fighter, Paulus Moses. After his defence against Moses last month, Burns is all but set for a summer showdown with a top contender.
English lightweight star Kevin Mitchell is the preferred choice of the fans and promoter Frank Warren but other options including European champ Gavin Rees and British title holder Anthony Crolla. Time will tell if Burns is able to take an even further step up and seek to become the absolute best that not only Scotland has to offer but Britain as a whole.