Boxing Along The Beltway
Rookie Of The Year: The boxer who had the most impact in his first year between January and November 2015. The Beltway had 11 boxers turn pro during that time period in 2015 (those who started after that period will be put in the 2016 class).
This year’s choice faced the most experienced competition as a first-year boxer, moving into scheduled six-round competition while continuing to advance a family dynasty.
The Beltway Boxing Rookie of the Year for 2015 is:
Antonio Russell, (5-0, four KO’s), bantamweight, Capitol Heights, MD
Russell, who was named the Outstanding Boxer of the 2013 National Golden Gloves, made his pro debut in Philadelphia, PA on January 31 and scored a second-round knockout of Harold Reyes. Russell was quickly put on the undercards of big bouts -- His second contest was on the undercard of the James DeGale-Andre Dirrell bout on May 23rd in Boston, MA. Russell stopped Brandon Garvin in the first round.
Russell traveled to Tampa, FL on July 11 and went the distance for the only time in his career, capturing a four-round unanimous decision over the always-tough Jaxel Marrero on the Keith Thurman-Luis Collazo card.
Russell moved up to the scheduled six-round bouts and scored a second-round TKO over Manuel Rubalcalva on September 12 in Mashantucket, CT on the undercard of the Cornelius Bundrage-Jermall Charlo title bout. Russell ended 2015 with a third-round TKO of another veteran -- Eduardo Melendez -- on October 30 in Orlando, FL. Look for Russell to make a step up in competition as it seems that he is on a fast track.
Honorable Mention (in Alphabetical Order):
Eric “El Torito” Hernandez (6-0, four KO’s), lightweight, Leesburg, VA
Hernandez was the busiest member of the 2015 rookie class having his six bouts come in just a four-month period. Hernandez made his debut on June 20th in Woodlawn, MD, winning a four-round unanimous decision over Mason Wicket. Hernandez notched three straight knockout wins in his next three contests -- July 18 in DC against Fernando Serrano in the second round, September 26 in Norfolk, VA over Anthony Dave in the third round and a second-round TKO over Alfredo Ellis, Jr. on October 10 in Greensboro, NC. Hernandez won a six-round contest against Benjamin Olinga on October 23 in DC before ending his rookie year with a first-round knockout of Brandon Hinnant just eight days later in Goldsboro, NC. Hernandez is an exciting fighter who already seems to be willing to take on all comers.
Drayvontay Speed-Rawls (4-0, two KO’s), lightweight, Glenarden, MD
The nephew of Beltway Boxing legend Eugene “Sonny” Speed had a tough contest in his pro debut winning a four-round split decision over fellow debuting boxer Joel Young on April 23 in Parkville, MD. Speed-Rawls improved in his second bout with a solid four-round unanimous decision win over Jorge Soto on July 24 in Baltimore, MD.
The hand speed of Speed-Rawls started to become a focal point of his offense and led to back-to-back first-round knockouts in his final two bouts of the year. Speed-Rawls stopped Brian Raglin on August 22 in Washington, DC and ended the year with a win over Shonta Barnes on November 14 in Springfield, VA. The speed of Speed-Rawls may be a major part of his advancement in 2016.
Previous Beltway Boxing Rookies of the Year:
2006: Jessie Nicklow
2007: Bayan Jargal
2008: Fernando Guerrero
2009: Dominic Wade
2010: Nick Kisner
2011: Dusty Hernandez Harrison
2012: Duane Mobley
2013: Mike Reed
2014: Lamont Roach, Jr.
Tomorrow: The Prospect of the Year!
(Award winner photo created by Ross Molovinsky)