He hasn’t made it to the Top Ten yet, but some of us are of the opinion that after just 11 pro fights, Jared Anderson is a heavyweight contender. Regardless of that opinion, the 22-year-old from Ohio is BoxingScene’s Prospect of the Year for 2021.

How does “Big Baby” stand on the whole prospect / contender debate?

“I'll leave it up to the people, if you ask me,” Anderson laughs. “I know what I'm capable of, and people don't know what I'm capable of yet, but I'm ready for whatever tests they have for me and whoever stands in front of me. I'm a fighter. I don't get into the politics of it. I'm here to fight and win.”

That’s all we can ask from the former amateur star, and that’s everything he’s done since turning pro in 2019. In that debut against Daniel Infante (1-2), which Anderson ended in 54 seconds, it marked the first and last time he faced an opponent with a losing record. Since then, he’s steadily worked his way up the ladder under the guidance of his promoter, Top Rank, and in 2021, he stepped on the gas, fighting and knocking out four opponents who sported a combined record of 60-4-3.

“That's why people like you consider me a contender already, because I didn't fight anybody with a losing record and stuff like that,” Anderson said. “And yeah, that's definitely a design and our game plan.”

In October, Anderson won the vacant NABF junior heavyweight title with a second-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Vladimir Tereshkin at T-Mobile Arena, and two months later, Oleksandr Teslenko suffered an identical fate in Madison Square Garden. In 2022, the stakes get higher.

“It (2021) was an excellent year as far as boxing goes,” he said. “And I definitely think this year will be the year to start getting in the rankings.”

It must be something in the water in Ohio, a state that has seen the emergence of not just Anderson, but Charles Conwell, U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Oshae Jones and Albert Bell, as well. 

“Iron sharpens iron,” said Anderson We all help each other out and we're working for the same goal.”

That goal? World domination. Apparently the sooner the better for Anderson, the consensus pick as the United States’ future of the heavyweight division. But he’s in no hurry. He’s an old school fighter in a young man’s body, so he’s willing to get to the top by picking off everybody in front of him, one by one.

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”

Runners-up (in alphabetical order): 

Keyshawn Davis

Keyshawn Davis had quite a year in 2021. Not only did he start off by turning pro and reeling off three wins, but then he took the summer “off” from the punch for pay ranks to go win a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Not satisfied, the 22-year-old finished the year with a second-round TKO of Jose Zaragoza in Madison Square Garden in December.

Yoelvis Gomez

Cuban southpaw turned pro in 2019, but it was in 2021 that he took off with a pair of first-round knockout wins – first over 21-4 Jesus Pina Najera in April and then an eye-opening stoppage of 2020’s boxing cult hero Clay Collard on Christmas Day that have all eyes on the 24-year-old this year.

Frank Martin

There’s always “that guy” among hardcore boxing fans who is like that band you watch every Friday night in the club and wonder why the world doesn’t know who they are yet. Frank Martin has been that guy, but his New Year’s Day blast out of Romero Duno took the 15-0 “Ghost” from the club to a major label deal from here on out.

Jose Valenzuela

The lightweight division keeps on giving in 2022 thanks to fighters like 22-year-old Jose Valenzuela. Perfect as a pro at 11-0 with seven knockouts, Valenzuela put five wins on the board in 2021, four by knockout, but one of the most impressive victories in that stretch was a decision over veteran Deiner Berrio in September.

Xander Zayas

If not for Jared Anderson, Xander Zayas would have likely wrapped this award up across the board. On track to becoming the next Puerto Rican star in the sport, the 19-year-old continued to roll in 2021, improving to 12-0 (9 KOs) thanks to six wins and four knockouts. Expect to see a step up in competition for him in 2022, as he’s proven to be ready for the next level at 154 pounds.