Unfortunately as there were so many brilliant bouts it was really hard to decide on the fight of the year, and infact there were 2 very good bouts outside of Asia that featured Asians and a host of top bouts that deserve a notable mention.
Terdsak Kokietgym Vs Orlando Salido-In September we had a bout that was more up-and-down than a yo-yo with Thailand's Terdsak Kokietgym dropping Orlando Salido 3 times whilst being dropped himself 4 times, including a staggering KO in the 11th round. This bout was one of the best bouts fought in the west though at times it did seem a little bit one sided, and that was reflected somewhat in the scorecards which read 96-91 in favour of Salido at the time of the stoppage. A great bout with a lot of drama though one that had become one-sided by the end.
Katsunari Takayama Vs Francisco Rodriguez Jr-In August we had another thriller in Mexico as Katsunari Takayama traded blows with Francisco Rodriguez Jr in a bout to unify Minimumweight titles. If you enjoy wars, toe-to-toe slug fests, action, heart and mindless bloody violence this is a must watch. It had everything a fight fan could want with both drama in the ring and real significance. Unfortunately it also had a blind man, John Madfis, at ringside turning in a repulsive 119-108 scorecard that really was unbelievably bad.
Akira Yaegashi Vs Roman Gonzalez-Another bout of major significance saw the all action Akira Yaegashi battle against Nicaraguan sensation Roman Gonzalez. The bout was brilliant in a lot of ways though in the end the brave Yaegashi was just simply beaten into submission by the brilliant Gonzalez, who become a 3-weight world champion with this win.
Kongfah Narkornluang Vs Den Sithsaithong-A real hidden war in Thailand saw the unbeaten Kongfah Nakornluang go toe-to-toe with Den Sithsaithong in a bout that was little more than a 6 round phone booth war. For us this was our “favourite” bout of the year but couldn't really be a contender for Fight of the Year given it's total lack of significance and it's real lack of skill, thankfully however it was exciting. (Note Sithsaithong is named Den Baansuan Samlansaraburi in the linked video)
Koki Eto Vs Ardin Diale-For much of the year this was our pick for the best fight and it appeared to tick all the boxes. It had knockdowns, it had competitiveness, it had action, soul and heart and it was brilliant. Diale, for the most part, was brilliant and through 7 rounds was well ahead with Eto looking almost certain to lose...until he managed to turn it around in the 8th round with an effort that bordered on the ridiculous. It was an insane come back a brilliant ending and ridiculously great fight.
We know we're a bit controversial but we believe we saw a perfect fight. That was the OPBF Minimumweight title bout between the then champion Ryuji Hara and the ultra-fast rising Kosei Tanaka. The bout had 2 unbeaten prospects in action in a bout that was going to send the winner on to the verges of a world title fight. Not only were both men unbeaten but both were sensationally well schooled, lightning quick and brilliant to watch. The fight wasn't a war but was an incredibly high speed and aggressive game of chess. For 8 rounds this was pretty much equal with Tanaka finally pulling away from his more experienced for in round 9 and answering questions about his stamina in the process. The bout may not have been the most violent contest of the year but it managed to combine fighting with boxing and gelled it all into a perfect bout that saw both men coming out better fighters than they had been when they had stepped into the ring. Really sensational stuff from both.