Zsolt Daranyi Junior prompts the referee to stop the contest.

On January 24th, 2015, I showed up early to the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado to catch the second fight on a card that hosted several interesting prospects but was headlined by Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios III. The Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Russia’s Konstantin Ponomarev, and Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez had all gotten my attention beforehand, but Zsolt Daranyi Jr. was new to me.

Out came a wiry, Hungarian-borne 152-pounder who exhibited learned craft, no doubt the product of an extensive amateur career which saw him win the Hungarian and Canadian National Championships multiple times—four in Canada, two in Hungary. He made sure to jab first and did so to the head and body against the Nebraska-based, Luis Marquez. That early strategy helped him establish distance and dominate the geography of the fight. Just over the 30-second mark of the first round he followed his left stick with a right cross that landed flush on the face, rocking Marquez to the ropes and leaving him defenseless. Daranyi followed up with a quick right hand and then two left hooks, prompting a stoppage by the referee. That performance became etched in my mind.

“The Phenom”, his applied nickname, has scored stoppages in every fight since, minus one 6-round decision against ring veteran, Gilbert Venegas, which he dominated. That brings his total to a tidy 13-0, 12 KO’s. Come the 24th of this month, it’s likely to improve to 14-0 with 13 knockouts.

Next up is a small step against Argentine battler, Diego Adrian Marocchi, who has a record of 17-3-1, 13 KO’s, but whose resume is built on a string of sub-.500 opposition. Marocchi has been halted early twice, with one of those occurring in 2016 to fellow Canadian Brandon Brewer, who is good in his own right, but doesn’t possess the goods Daranyi has, especially the power.

Though it’s incremental progress, there is no denying Zsolt has the potential to be a key player at whichever division he participates in. Daranyi just needs to stay focused and avoid the potholes along the road. Taking a foot off the gas can have disastrous results in a cold and lonesome sport like boxing, as was saw in Felix Verdejo’s major hiccup against the hard-cracking Antonio Lozada Jr.

I don’t expect that from Zsolt Daranyi, however. He has been putting in the laborious hours that make boxing champions since he was a 9-year-old dreamer. He is now a 6’1”, 23-year-old swift-handed boxer-puncher who isn’t afraid to take your legs away with a shot to the breadbasket.

Put this kid on your watch-list.