WHO will comprise the next generation of boxing superstars?
This is the question on the minds of fight fans who follow the game religiously. Never mind what any commissioner, promoter, manager, trainer or another gullible wordsmith waxing poetic wants you to believe the truth is that not one of the many youngsters cornered the boxing market this year.
This signals danger for the future. Only two - Thomas Oosthuizen and Jason Bedeman - did well. But winning international belts automatically disqualifies them from being nominated for the Prospect of 2009 award.
So who should be considered for this award? Sowetan punts Johnny Muller, Jackson Chauke, Joey Stiglingh and Michael van Heerden.
Muller, 20, turned professional in April and is undefeated after five fights with four stoppages. He amazed the boxing fraternity with a first-round knockout of Sean Santana on September 24. He is trained by Peet Bothma.
Chauke, 24, turned professional on October 7 on his return from the Beijing Olympics where he was SA Boxing's sole representative. Trained by Colin Nathan, Chauke chalked up four wins before leaving Nathan for Manny Fernandez, who guided him to a second-round stoppage of Sandile Mxabanisi on December 11. Chauke has three stoppages from five wins.
Stiglingh, 21, turned pro in September under Nathan, who has helped him to win seven fights with four stoppages.
Van Heerden, 25, has been a professional fighter since August 2007 under Nick Durandt.
Together they have achieved seven wins (5 KOs), a loss and one draw. Van Heerden showed guts and a big heart on October 30 when he stopped tough-as-nails Theophilus Mpakane in seven rounds for the Gauteng junior middleweight title.
It's a dead heat for the four, any of whom deserves the Prospect of 2009 award.