Around a month ago we looked at 5 Korean prospects to keep an eye on this year. Today we run a similar feature but shift from the Korean peninsula to the north and head into China.
The country right now is of course having an horrific outbreak of coronavirus which has essentially put all sport in the country on ice to try to help curtail the outbreak. Despite that Chinese boxing is strong, and when we finally see Chinese boxing start again the fans in the country will have a lot of fighters to get excited about.
For the sake of this article we aren't going to include anyone who is world ranked, for us they don't count as prospects, they are, almost by definition, contenders.
Jianhao Diao (2-0, 2)
Former WSB fighter Jianhao Diao made his professional debut last year at Lightweight and despite being 27 years old when he made his debut he instantly became one to watch. On debut he stopped Indonesian veteran Rivo Rengkung in 4 rounds and around 8 weeks later he stopped Filipino veteran Jaime Barcelona in 2 rounds, giving Barcelona his 8th stoppage loss in 108 bouts. Sadly quality footage of his two pro bouts have been hard to come by, but his time in the WSB showed us more than enough to be very excited about his potential. He's a solid southpaw boxer-puncher and he genuinely has the ability to be moved quickly. He's found his groove in the pros and the longer distances seem like they will suit him. Fingers crossed we see him in an 8 or 10 rounder next time out.
Zhong Liu (16-0, 6)
Unbeaten Super Bantamweight prospect Zhong Liu has been a pro for a little over 4 years and really he should have been on our radar very quickly, but wasn't. His debut came against a 7-0 and his second bout was against another unbeaten man. Those wins should have caught our eye, but didn't and then he sort of went backwards and fought a string of novices through 2016. In recent bouts he has stepped up, massively, and he beat Jess Rhey Waminal, John Kenan Villaflor and Ryan Lumacad in 2019. Although he's in a very tough division the 28 year old has got the potential to work himself into a world title fight in the next year or two. It would be a huge ask to see him world a world title, but we thought the same when we used to look at Can Xu.
Xiang Li (6-0, 5)
The 25 year old Super Featherweight/Lightweight Xiang Li is an interesting hopeful. We've seen him look bad, but in reality been matched matched hard and we're glad we've seen him being forced to dig in and earn his wins, despite his last 5 coming inside the distance. Li, not to be confused with a Light Flyweight with the same name, looks a rather raw boxer-puncher at times, but he's proven to have legitimate pop in his hands, a genuine will to win and a willingness to wait. We saw him being tested against Arvin Yurong at the start of 2019, and being forced to work even harder against Do Jin Lee last August and those tests will have done him the world of good. He's a long way from a world title fight, but is certainly someone worthy of attention at this very early stage of his career.
DianXing Zhu (5-0, 4)
We see the Minimumweight division as one that is ready for a shake up after the long, and frustrating, reigns of Knockout CP Freshmart and Wanheng Menayothin. We don't see both the Thai's keeping their titles to 2021, and we see a number of exciting youngsters making a climb through the division. One of those that managed to remain under the radar so far is 23 year old Chinese fighter DianXing Zhu. Zhu only debuted in early 2019 but has already proven to be destructive, exciting, very strong has moved up to 10 rounds bouts. He's not as polished as the Shigeoka brothers, but he looks bull strong and he's likely to be the country's ready made replacement for the now retired Xiong Zhao Zhing
Nan He (1-0)
A bit of a wild card to close off is 18 year old Featherweight Nan He, who debuted last August and upset the then 5-0 Haiyun Duan. In that bout He really impressed us. Technically he looked sharp for a debuting teenager, he put his shots together really nice, and didn't look like a debutant at all. In fact he looked like the 5-0 fighter. He had a tight defense, smart boxing, a good work rate and was so much crisper with his work than Duan was with his. It wasn't a flawless performance, for from it, but it was a really impressive debut and the type that put him on our map immediately. Fingers crossed we see him back in action when the coronavirus is finally defeat.
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