In November we counted down a number of honourable mentions for our 20 for 20. Now it's time to look at the 20 fighters who have managed to make it into the list properly, and they come from all over Asia and all over the weight classes. Some of these you may already be aware of, some are perhaps less well known, but either way these 20 men are going to be well worth following in the new year as they look to push forward in their career and move towards major success.
For these fighters we will look at the the reason why you should follow them, our expectations for them in the coming year and the issues they may face going forward. The one rule with all of these fighters is that they can't have fought for a world title at the time of writing.
Some of these are world ranked, and some of these may well be set for world title fights in the near future, but so far they have not had that top level bout.
Without any further ado, lets take a look at the man we have ranked #20 in our list of Ones to watch in 2020, and began our count down to the man we rank #1
Carl Jammes Martin (14-0, 13)
With Manny Pacquiao, Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire all looking like their best years are behind them the Philippines needs a new star and although he's on the raw side there are few fighters in the Philippines as magnetic and TV friendly as Carls Jammes Martin. The all action youngster is a thrill a minute joy ride to watch and with such an exciting style he is the sort of fighter that a channel like ESPN5 can really get behind. Of course he needs to be given development fights in 2020, but that alone is a reason to watch him and see him make the improvements needed to become a legitimate contender at the higher levels.
Sadly at the moment it's unclear what ESPN5's plans ate for 2020 and although Martin looks like the type of fighter who can help any TV channel in the Philippines it really does take a channel to actually show boxing for someone like Martin to attract a fan base. If ESPN5 are out of the fan base it would be a major issue for Martin and whilst he'll still be worth tracking down streams of, even dodgy facebook streams put on by the GAB, it would be a massive kick in the teeth to treat a fighter with such potential star power like Martin in such a way, but his style really is amazing to watch and he is worth jumping through hoops to see.
What do we expect?
It would be downright foolish to rush Martin into a world title fight over the next couple of years, however seeing him mix on the oriental title picture wouldn't be a bad idea at all, and that's where we expect him to be by the end of 2020. The OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific titles might be out of reach for him by the end of the year but the WBA Oceania title, or the WBO Oriental title would be great stepping stones for the youngster. We also expect to see him taken rounds this year as he gets the right developmental fights to build on his natural skills.
If ESPN5 can push Martin then there is a real chance he could end 2020 as one of the key faces of Filipino boxing, and the brightest rising star.
On the other hand if ESPN5, the channel that looked like it was going to be a huge positive for Filipino boxing, is withdrawing from the sport the expectations we have for for Martin really do come down, and rather than being on the verge of big fights there's a chance that his 2020 will see him toil, and almost fade away. If that happens then it would be a massive shame, and slow the momentum he has been building over the last couple of years.
As we're alluded to through this entire article the big concern for Martin is exposure and ESPN5's dwindling interest in boxing. If they don't re-emerge in 2020 as a serious broadcaster then Martin's rise really will have had the handbrake shoved on it. His bouts will still get attention among hardcore fans but that attention will only be a fraction of what it should be, or rather would be, if ESPN5 continued to back him. As well as the limitations in exposure the lack of ESPN5 backing could also be a major financial problem for the fighter, who may lack the ability to lure over interesting opponents, or develop his skills in the way he needs to.
If ESPN5 do drop boxing, as seems likely, there is also a horrible risk of Martin being taken from his homeland and needing to be the opponent for other fighters. If this happens then any chance of Martin becoming a star will be significantly reduced. We have seen Filipino fighters go on the road and make a name for themselves, but we suspect that Martin needs more time, more fights and more experience before he follows that route. What he needs is developmental fights, not opportunities to try and upset the applecart, at not quite yet.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features