If we're being honest there wasn't many fighters who really had much of a comeback in 2019, hence this award coming out before the year ends. Looking both regionally and globally the short list here, was a very short list. So short in fact that we saw some people making up their global short list with Keith Thurman, a man who went 1-1 in the year with no genuine top level win.
Globally the winner was an obvious one, Jean Pascal, who has some how ended the year with with decision wins over Marcus Browne and Badou Jack despite being written off...repeatedly in recent years.
For Asia the list was really, really tiny, and left us really with only one option. Ryota Murata.
The Japanese Middleweight was embarrassed in 2018 when Rob Brant dominated him. He used him as a human punch bag and it was a 1-sided beating from the first round to the last, as Murata walked forced, trudging towards Brant and eating more leather than was good for him.
It seemed like the Japanese fighter was set to face a repeat set back in July when the two men rematched, but instead Murata mowed through the American in style. Ripping up the pre-fight expectations. Brant had entered the bout as a 1/3 favourite, but Murata battered him in just 2 rounds in one of the most impressive performances from Murata so far. Some may argue about the stoppage but the reality is that Brant could have been stopped earlier in the round as Murata unloaded power shots with little coming back.
Whatever had caused the loss in the first bout wasn't clear, but that loss seemed to have ignited a new fire and anger in the Japanese fighter who suddenly looked a rejuvenated force.
In December Murata notched his second win, securing himself the Asian Comeback of the Year award, by stopping Steven Butler in 5 rounds.
This saw Murata go from being written off as someone ready to retire, to someone who ended the year ready for mega fights with global stars at the Tokyo Dome. It's hard to argue that anyone has had the turn around Murata has had this year.
In 2018 we saw a lot of fighters end lengthy breaks from the ring, and show they still had more to give us. We had fighters like Kazuto Ioka return from retirement to fight for a world title at the end of the year, Shohei Omori return from a broken jaw to put himself back in the world title mix and Akira Yaegashi go from being stopped in a round by Milan Melindo to score a win in a FOTY contender against Hirofumi Mukai.
For us however the Comeback of the Year was Nonito Donaire, who looked who looked old and tired when he lost to Carl Frampton back in April, but a move down in weight and having a chance in the World Boxing Super Series saw him upset Ryan Burnett in November to become the WBA Bantamweight "Super" champion.
Whilst he was helped by Burnett suffering a bad injury it was still an ultra competitive bout before the injury and it looked like Donaire had gone from a washed up 35 year old, who couldn't pull the trigger, to being a top Bantamweight once again, returning to a division he hadn't fought at in over 7 years!
We'll see what Donaire has left in the tank in 2019, with a bout against Zolani Tete in a WBSS Semi-Final bout, and a if he manages to upset the South African it's going to be very hard to write him off in the final.
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