THE year 2017 was off to a great start with that early fight of the year candidate in the Leo Sta Cruz-Carl Frampton rematch.

Sta Cruz has evened up with Frampton and a third installment looks to be a certainty within the year.

Frampton was one of the breakthrough fighters in 2016 and even won some votes for fighter-of the -year honors.

If he wins the rubber match this could be mean another good year for him. Of course, if Sta Cruz wins the same could be said of him.

So aside from this dynamic duo, who else could possibly be the breakthrough fighter for 2017?

Let me tick off a few names on my list who are really loaded with potential to become big stars this year.

ANTHONY JOSHUA. This undefeated behemoth sports a fearsome record of 18 wins all via the abbreviated route.

He currently holds the IBF heavyweight crown and is penciled to meet Wladimir Klitschko this April with the WBA belt also at stake.

As we all know, Klitschko lost to troubled fighter Tyson Fury back in 2015 and has been aching to regain his spot in the apex of the heavyweight division.

But at 41 years of age, I just don't see it happening. Joshua's physical advantages will be too much for "Dr Steelhammer" and if he wins, he could be the next great heavyweight to come from the UK.

VASYL LOMACHENKO. He was the Fighter of the Year last year but with only 7 pro fights to his name some are still wondering if he's really the real deal.

He is scheduled to face Jason Sosa in April in a unification match for the WBA and WBO belts.

Sosa is a no-nonsense banger and style-wise, this will be another good matchup for Loma for him to showcase his excellent boxing skills.

More importantly, this gives him a chance to prove that his victory over Nicholas Walters was no fluke.

OSCAR VALDEZ. This 26 year old from Sonora, Mexico has an exciting crowd pleasing style.

He's currently the WBO featherweight champion. Last year, he won all his fights via stoppage, becoming a champion in the process.

VERBATIM. " I guess I don’t really feel like I broke her, but I do know that coming off of a knockout, when I knocked her out, yes — that helped the fight with Nunes [end] faster. I don’t mean that in any rude way" -Holly Holm on Ronda Rousey's loss (MMAFighting.com)

LAST ROUNDS. Are on me, Atty. Pam Condat and my sis-in-law Claudine Navarro as we celebrate our birthdays this week. Cheers!