The hardest category for this year's awards was the Fighter of the Year, with so many fantastic possibilities. There was Naoya Inoue, who destroyed Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano in just over 3 minutes; there was Donnie Nietes, who beat Juan Carlos Reveco and Kazuto Ioka and had a draw with Aston Palicte; there was Wanheng Menayothin, who scored 2 title defenses whilst moving to 52-0; Knockout CP Freshmart, who made 3 defenses of the WBA Minimumweight title and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, who went from debutant to WBA #1 in less than a year!
After going through all the possible winners, we're delighted to crown Kenshiro [拳四朗] as the 2018 Asian Boxing Fighter of the Year. He recorded 3 defenses of the WBC Light Flyweight crown, stopped 2 former champions and dominated his third challenger, whilst establishing himself as one of the sports most well rounded "little" men.
He began the year by rematch Ganigan Lopez, the man he had narrowly beaten for the title in 2017. This time there was no questions as to who the better man was, as Kenshiro stopped Lopez in the in the second round. This was only the second time Lopez had been stopped, with the other one coming way back in 2012 by the dynamite fisted Denver Cuello. He followed that win up by putting on a sensational performance to stop Milan Melindo in 7 rounds, becoming the first fighter to stop the Filipino who had only beaten Hekkie Budler a year earlier and gave Ryoichi Taguchi problems in a unification bout the previous December.
Following those two fantastic wins Kenshiro scored a stay busy defense on December 30th against Saul Juarez, taking a near shut out over the Mexican challenger.
Through his 3 bouts he lost just 2 rounds from a possible 21, he stopped two very durable world class fighters, showed just how much he has improved since winning the title from Lopez in May 2017 and put down a marker to the rest of the Light Flyweight division.
Whilst Hiroto Kyoguchi is the Ring Magazine champion, it's fair to say that Kenshiro is the top dog in the division, and his recent performances have really shown why. They have also shown why he is our Fighter of the Year.
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