This year, 2014, things were even more complicated with 2 days of top quality action featuring a potential upset of the year and a potential fighter of the year, among others. To put it into perspective, those who decided to jump ahead may have gotten numerous awards very wrong and almost certainly 1 award wrong by simply being a little bit too impatient.
We'll start with that award, the Fight of the Year award for 2014. Going into the final week of the year there were 4 men in the running with one of those men having a fighter in the finals days of the year. It was that man who literally grab the award at the last minute and made a statement that saw boxing fans around the world sit up, take notice and began talking about both him and the super Flyweight division.
Firstly the runners up:
Manny Pacquiao- The Filipino congressman had a somewhat quiet year but yet one that really was worth making a note of as he beat two unbeaten world champions with a combined record of 51-0-0-1. They were Timothy Bradley, who he beat back in April, and Chris Algieri, who he beat in November. On paper the wins, both by decision, look great though in reality they were expected wins.
Gennady Golovkin- The Kazakh power puncher scored 3 wins this year, all by stoppage, including a an eye catching 3rd round KO against former unified champion Daniel Geale and opening round stoppage over tough Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio. Sadly Golovkin's issue for the year is that he is simply too good for the other Middleweights out there and even the top guys in the division don't really make for appealing fights with him. He, like Pacquiao, beat men he was supposed and although he did quickly, a combined 12 rounds, it does feel like he is treading water in the hope of finding a suitable challenge.
Amnat Ruenroeng- This Thai was a relative unknown when the year began though he quickly became one of the 2014 break out fighters and a genuine Fighter of the the Year with 3 notable scalps. The first of those was tough Filipino Rocky Fuentes in January for the IBF Flyweight title, in what was Amnat's 12th professional bout, just 4 months later he was in Japan where he out pointed the then unbeaten Kazuto Ioka in a genuine upset. He ended the year with a very narrow win over McWilliams Arroyo. On paper a 3-0 record against those 3 is very impressive though the controversy around his win over Arroyo has been a black mark against him.
We suspect you may have been able to guess but the winner is.... the Monster from Kanagawa Naoya Inoue. Inoue, like Golovkin, went 3-0 (3) for the year and though unlike Golovkin he managed to make a splash and then another splash. The first came when he set a Japanese record by winning a world title in 6th professional bout, battering Adrian Hernandez into submission in April to claim the WBC Light Flyweight title. A weak defence in September may not have been great but a jump up 2 divisions to Super Flyweight in December saw him decimating Omar Andres Narvaez to become a 2 weight world champion in a world record setting 8 professional bouts.
Whilst the result on paper were excellent what was even better were the performances and watching his beat down of Narvaez was a joy on the eye. It was clinical, destructive, and even a bit magical. We know a lot of fans world wide have taken notice of Inoue now and we hope that their interest will expand beyond Inoue and help fans get into the Super Flyweight division and the rising Japanese super prospects such as his young brother Takuma Inoue and the equally fast rising Kosei Tanaka.
(Image courtesy of Hideyuki Ohashi's blog)