Wale Omotoso may not be globally-known, but he's got the goods. (Photo by Werner Kalin)
Nigerian welterweight prospect Wale Omotoso may not be the most well-known prospect in the world, but he's got the game to back up a standing as top welterweight prospect out there today. Omotoso (18-0, 16 KO) lives in and fights out of Australia as a professional, and turned 26 this month. He's a right-hander, standing 5'10½" with a 67½" reach, and has won the Australian and OPBF titles at 147 pounds, and is currently defending an IBF regional trinket. He claims an amateur record of 47-1, and says the great Nigerian champion Dick Tiger is his idol.
He's got a mental toughness that comes from a very, very rough background in Lagos, where he was a gang member, it seems, out of necessity more than choice. In the ring, he's a very cool customer, doesn't get rattled, moves around well, has good speed, can punch, and works behind his jab very well. He dominated both Sam Colomban and a faded but still annoying Emanuel Augustus.
Competition isn't all that stiff in Australia for him anymore, and he could use a change of scenery if he's going to become a serious contender. He wants a shot at Jan Zaveck's IBF title, but doesn't appear to be quite on the radar just yet. Physically, his reach is a bit short for a welterweight despite good height.
Other Welterweight Prospects
Akron's Shawn Porter (18-0, 13 KO) has brought himself down from 154 and is giving hints that he's headed all the way to 140, but he's at 147 for now. He's been a sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao, preparing the Filipino champ for both Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley. I like him a lot, though some are a bit cautious about his prospects. Porter's Ohio rival Willie Nelson (16-1-1, 10 KO) is 6'3", but is basically tall and nothing else. His flaws were seriously exposed last time out by Vincent Arroyo (11-1, 7 KO).
Golden Boy's Keith Thurman (15-0, 14 KO) is a good-looking prospect in most respects, but he doesn't fight enough. Currently, he's been off since November, and he fought just three times last year. The best American prospect out there might be 28-year-old Brad Solomon (17-0, 7 KO), who learned to box in a Louisiana penitentiary. He's not my favorite, but his style has led to some easy wins over decent fighters.
The UK has some very nice prospects in the division. Chief among them at the moment is Kell Brook (23-0, 16 KO), who is already among the best fighters in the shallow division. He has recently left Frank Warren for Matchroom, a move he hopes will get him bigger and better fights, as he had stalled under Warren's care. There's also Frankie Gavin (10-0, 8 KO), who is a great prospect in terms of talent, but looks like he still belongs at 140, and was lethargic in his last fight. Commonwealth champ Denton Vassell (17-0, 9 KO) is probably the best prospect under the Hatton Promotions banner. And Lee Purdy (15-2-1, 8 KO) recently captured the British title from Craig Watson. The two will rematch on July 16, and Purdy might well be a gritty one-hit wonder more than anything.