It's fair to say that 2013 has been a great year for both ourselves and for boxing. Sure for us it's been our first year as a site, for boxing though it's been an excellent year with a number of brilliant fights almost on a weekly basis, plenty of controversies, a handful of upsets and some great KO's. In all honesty it's been on of the best years that we can remember with everything a boxing fan could dream about.
With that in mind we've decided to celebrate 2014 with our first ever “Annual Awards”. This award system will be our way of recognising the key fights, fighters and performances of the year. Of course, with this site being “Asian Boxing” we have tried to keep things to fights in Asia for the most part.
Fighter of the Year
Kazakhstan's Middleweight sensation Gennady Golovkin has possibly been the stand out fighter this year despite stiff competition from a number of fighters. Any year where a world champion defends his world title 4 times is impressive, even more when he stops all 4 men and never looks in any trouble. Not only did Golovkin defeat Gabriel Rosado, Nobuhiro Ishida, Matthew Macklin and Curtis Stevens but he also did it without losing more than a round or 2 between those 4 fights.
Sure the opponents weren't great for Golovkin but the WBA Middleweight champion is quickly proving to be an avoided fighter and with good reason. He's taking out the B grade Middleweights whilst the top guys seem happy to avoid a clash with him. If he continues to take out all willing challengers in 2014 he may well be forced to go to Super Middleweight just to look for willing dance partners.
Notable mention (1)
One man who has arguably impressed everyone this year has been Takashi Miura who has had a career defining year no matter what happens in 2014. He began the year by becoming the WBC Super Featherweight champion courtesy of a demanding victory over Gamaliel Diaz and since then has gone from strength to strength. In his first defense he went to Mexico and won a thriller with Sergio Thompson then ended the year by dominating Dante Jardon in what we expected to be a tough bout. Not only has Miura had a year to remember but he's also become the new Mexecutioner.
Notable mention (2)
After losing to Kazuto Ioka in a Minimumweight title unification bout in 2012 some may have expected to see Akira Yaegashi slowly fade away. Instead Yaegashi has had a 2013 to remembered and a year to genuinely celebrate. He jumped from Minimumweight to Flyweight and despite struggling with Thailand's Saenmuangloei Kokietgym in his first fight at the weight Yaegashi would end the year as the WBC and Linear champion. Yaegashi's year saw him scoring 4 wins including really notable ones over Toshiyuki Igarashi and Edgar Sosa and a very credible one over Oscar Blanquet.
Prospect of the Year
There was little doubt who'd be getting this award this year because Naoya Inoue was the one stand out candidate. The 20 year old from Kanagawa scored 4 wins this year and showed everything a fighter had to show. He destroyed Thailand's Ngaoprajan Chuwatana, boxed the socks off Yuki Sano, beat up the brave Ryoichi Taguchi and then dismantled Jerson Mancio. In the process of those 4 victories Inoue became the Japanese and OPBF champion whilst also becoming world ranked and viewed as one of the worlds fastest rising stars.
Although the 18 year old Kosei Tanaka only made his debut this year he's already looking like a fighter heading to the top. Tanaka took on the well regarded Oscar Raknafa on debut and made a statement dropping Raknafa en route to a comfortable 6 round decision. His year wasn't as impressive as Inoue's but his performance showed the hall marks of a young fighter going a very way in the sport. Don't be shocked if this youngster is mentioned as the stand out prospect at the end of 2014.
Female Fighter of the Year
This was one the easier categories with Japanese Super Flyweight Naoko Fujioka having a year to really remember. She may have only fought twice this year but her win over Naoko Yamaguchi for the WBC female Super Flyweight title was the stand out performance of any Asian female this year. The former Minimumweight champion appears to be like a fine wine and despite being 38 years old she is still improving as shown as she defeated Yamaguchi and proved to be our female fighter of the year.
Korean boxing might not be riding a crest of a wave but they do have a shining light in the form of WBO Minimumweight champion Su-Yun Hong who defended her title twice this year. He first defense, over Buangern OnesongchaiGym, may not have been anything great but the fact that she then followed that up with a victory over Mari Ando left us with no doubt that Hong deserved a mention on here. What made her victory over Ando so impressive is that Ando herself went up and finished the year a world champion herself.
Performance of the Year
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (v Yota Sato)
Back at the start of May we expected Yota Sato, the then WBC Super Flyweight champion, to travel over to Thailand and defeat Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a man who we admittedly knew little about at the time. Instead of Sato defending his belt and creating history we instead saw Srisaket have the break out performance of the year and stamp his name on the sport with one of the most notable and outstanding performances of the year.
Notable mention (1)
Koki Eto (v Pornsawan Porpramook)
Japan's Koki Eto may be little known outside of Japan and Thailand and might never again make a statement on the world stage but his memorable battle with Pornsawan Porpramook was one of those great performances and the type of thing that will live on. Eto went in to the bout with everything against him. No Japanese national had won a world title bout in Thailand, he was facing an experienced and well known world level fighter and the crowd were certainly behind Porpramook. Despite the deck being stacked against him Eto managed to upset Porpramook with a stirring performance.
Notable mention (2)
Takashi Miura (v Sergio Thompson)
Japan's Takashi Miura travelled around the planet to make the first defense of his WBC Super Featherweight title and take on mandatory challenger Sergio Thompson. Miura was the under-dog and the partisan crowd were clearly behind Thompson though they didn't prevent Miura from putting on a performance to remember as he and Thompson traded leather with reckless abandon. The fight wasn't Miura's first world title fight but was the fight that put him on the map as a real champion and a fighter who wasn't to be taken lighting.
Revelation of the Year
(The fighter than came out of nowhere to become a top tier fighter in 2013)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
To start 2013 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai was an unknown fighter with a record of 16-3-1 (15). The only notable things about him were his early career losses to Akira Yaegashi and Kenji Oba. In 2013 however Srisaket went 7-0 (6) won the WBC Super Flyweight title dominating Yota Sato and made a defense of that title stopping Hirofumi Mukai.
The American based “Siberian Rocky” Ruslan Provodnikov was viewed by many as a second tier fighter, an “ESPN fighter” if you will. This year though we saw Provodnikov proving that he was a world level warrior as he put on 2 fight of the year candidates. Although he came up short, narrowly, against Timothy Bradley his performance against Mike Alvarado solidified him as one of the revelations of 2013.
KO of the Year
Takashi Uchiyama (v Jaider Parra)
We all know that Takashi Uchiyama is one of the hardest punchers pound-for-pound on the planet though earlier this year we saw just how hard he hits as be destroyed the mid-section of Venezuelan challenger Jaider Parra with a single thunderous body shot. The shot may be forgotten by many but for us it was one of the best body shots in recent memory, destructive.
Notable mention (1)
Gennady Golovkin (v Nobuhiro Ishida)
Like Uchiyama we all know that Gennady Golovkin is a major puncher and he showed it with 4 stoppages this year including 2 KO of the Year candidates. Of those 2 KO's we've gone with his single right hand KO of Japan's Nobuhiro Ishida, a shot that was vicious, concussive and spiteful. We're not sure what was more striking, the shot or the way Ishida went down with half of his body lying out of the ring. It was devastation of the highest order.
Notable mention (2)
Ryo Miyazaki (v Carlos Velarde)
Although Ryo Miyazaki may have ended the year with an unexpected loss to Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr one thing that no one can take away from him was his KO of the year contender against Carlos Velarde. This KO, which came way back in May, was probably the best 2-punch combination Miyazaki has ever landed and was simply a perfect combination that sent Velarde crumbling instantly to the canvas. It genuinely was a beautiful highlight to Miyazaki's first world title defense.
Fight of the Year
Takashi Miura v Sergio Thompson
This was by far the hardest category out there though we've gone with Miura v Thompson as the winner. This war, fought in Mexico was nothing short of breath taking with both men being sent down, both men being hurt, both men unloading and both men needing to dig deep. Neither man looked likely to survive the distance and neither man looked likely to be the same fighter ever again. This was one of those wars that will live on with all those that saw it and will grow and grow as the men themselves become more famous.
Notable mention (1)
Ruslan Provodnikov v Timothy Bradley
When we talk about Fight of the Year we think of bouts with momentum shifts, styles that contrast well and a mix of the action. That's exactly what we got when Provodnikov put his name on the boxing map with his performance against Timothy Bradley. Of course Bradley played his part as had to battle through a serious shellacking and showed off the classy boxing we know he has in his arsenal. The bout had it all and best of all seemed to cause the birth of a new boxing star in Provodnikov.
Notable mention (2)
Koki Eto v Pornsawan Porpramook
Japanese youngster Koki Eto was a relative unknown to the world stage until he travelled to Thailand and put on a real show with Thai tank Pornsawan Porpramook. The both saw both men going to war in a real battle of attrition that eventually saw Pornsawan dropped to the canvas in round 12. It turned out that it was the knockdown that sealed the deal for Eto and won him the WBA “interim” Flyweight title. Unfortunately Eto would lose the title in his first defense showing that the bout had taken it's toll on him.
Notable mention (3)
Kohei Kono v Liborio Solis
We said it was a tough category and the fact that Kohei Kono's war with Liborio Solis is all the way down in the 3rd notable position says it all. This fight could well have been our fight of the year in previous years as both men went to war, both men gave it their all and both men got knocked down in a bout that saw Solis unifying the WBA and WBA “interim” Super Flyweight titles.
Comeback of the Year
When a fighter goes 1-3-0-1 in their previous fights you tend to feel their career is on the wane and that it's time to think about retirement. For Katsunari Takayama however 2013 has been his year as he's scored 2 wins and put himself back on the map. Not only did he claim a world title, the IBF Minimumweight belt, with a memorable performance against Mario Rodriguez in Mexico but he then returned to Japan to win his first fight in the country since 2009. Takayama, aged 30, looks to be a man who has turned his career around this year and now looks like a very difficult man to beat.
Before we close out our awards we want to say thank you to all the fighters, promoters, organisations and everyone else that has made our sport so great over the last 12 months. It's been an honour to watch these warriors in action.
One more thing before we end this, we'd also like to say, from the entire team, thank you to...you. Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting the site and thank you for supporting boxing, the greatest sport in the world. Hopefully 2014 will be an even better year with more great fights, more amazing KO's and more of the action that has made us all love this fantastic sport.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).