For us the decision to pick a particular prospect was very tough. On paper the man who accomplished the most, whilst remaining a “prospect” was Takuma Inoue (6-0, 1). Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya, fought twice claiming and defending the OPBF Super Flyweight title. The 20 year old claimed the OPBF title in his first bout of the year, taking a clear decision over Mark Anthony Geraldo in July, and defended it against Rene Dacquel in December.
On paper those two wins were excellent, even if the youngster himself wasn't happy with either performance. Both saw him show flaws, drop off in the middle of fights and, in both, he was the clear betting favourite.
Despite feeling that Takuma the most of any prospect this year, he's not actually our prospect of the year. That honour instead belongs to Daigo Higa (8-0, 8), pictured with Kenya Yamashita who didn't at the same level of Inoue but did show a more sizeable improvement in his performances and “proved” himself more compared to what he had done in the past.
For Takuma the wins were impressive but in 2014 his competition was similar to what he faced in 2015. For Higa that wasn't the case.
Higa fought 5 times in 2015, winning all 5 by stoppage. Coming in to the year he had faced 3 very limited opponents and had been fighting in 4 round under-card bouts in Tokyo. By the end of the year he had fought in Thailand and Korea, he had claimed the WBC Youth Flyweight title and had become a name on the lips of the hardcore fans with many suggesting his title winning effort, in Thailand, was one of the best performances of any young fighter during the year.
Higa's stand out win was that one in Thailand, where he battered Kongfah CP Freshmart into submission in the 7th round. As well as that win he also scored notable stoppages over Cris Alfante, stopping Alfante quicker than either Florante Condes or Knockout CP Freshmart, and Filipino champion Renren Tesorio, doing what former world champion Toshiyuki Igarashi failed to do.
Not only did he perform at a substantially higher level than he had but he also proved a lot more in the last 12 months than Takuma did. We knew already that Takuma
We suspect it'll be a controversial choice but for us Higa has outshined the likes of Iwan Zoda (8-1, 7), Ken Shiro (6-0, 3), Mark Magsayo (12-0, 10), Riku Kano (8-1-1, 4) and Hinata Maruta (1-0), who in our eyes claimed the most impressive single win of any prospect in consideration for this honour.
(Image thanks to Kenya Yamashita)