– With the year-end awards for 2014 fast approaching, now seems like a good time to reflect on my picks for 2013 prospect of the year, and my list of 5 breakout names for 2014.
122lb. prospect Jessie Magdaleno was hampered by injury and didn’t do anything of note this year.
Naoya Inoue is, at 21, surely the best young talent in the sport. He blasted his way to a 108lb. title in his 6th pro fight, and will be a top contender for the Fighter of the Year award if he beats long reigning 115lb. titlist Omar Narvaez on New Year’s Eve.
Featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko stuttered in his first title attempt against an overweight Orlando Salido, but made up for it with an impressive title-winning display in his 3rd pro fight (equalling the record for a title claimed in the least fights) against unbeaten longtime prospect Gary Russell Jr.
He followed it up with a successful first defence, and has many, in my opinion prematurely, dubbing him the cream of the 126lb. class.
Overall, I’m pleased with how my picks in this category delivered.
I’ve already covered Inoue and Lomachenko, and Khabib Allakhverdiev was a bust, losing to Jessie Vargas.
Stiverne won a heavyweight belt as expected, but failed to capitalize on the momentum with a first defence in the second half of the year. His date with Deontay Wilder is set for January 17th.
The best pick of this bunch has to be Terence Crawford.
Going into 2014, he was given prime TV time by HBO, but was criticized by some for a lack of excitement.
He went to Scotland to beat Ricky Burns, and, now armed with a title, returned home to Omaha, where he engaged in a fight of the year contender war with unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa, eventually cracking the Cuban’s chin.
Newly established as a regional draw in his hometown, he finished the year with a schooling of Ray Beltran for the vacant lineal championship.
He is now moving up to 140lbs. and looks set to figure in the Pacquiao sweepstakes.
All that amounts to a breakthrough year if ever there was one
– Also, what of the fights that I hoped would happen in 2014?
Only 4 of the 12 in my list took place (2 of those in Europe), and this is indicative of what was a down year for the sport, certainly in America, after a great 2013
– Showtime in 2014 = Showcasetime
– Amir Khan was superb against Devon Alexander, and I believe that he’s the toughest fight out there for Mayweather…and that’s including Manny Pacquiao
– In 2015, I’ll be using this blog to highlight & chronicle throughout the year what I view as particularly poor performances from referees and judges across the world.
Time to name and shame for posterity…
– Most memorable moments of the boxing year for me?
Andy Lee’s dramatic come-from-behind knockout wins over John Jackson & Matvey Korobov, ultimately resulting in him realizing his dream of winning a world title.
The grand-scale pageantry of boxing’s return to Wembley stadium with Froch-Groves II.
The Saunders-Eubank Jr. build-up, culminating in a dramatic fight, which elevated the standing of both fighters.
The brutal final round of Kovalev-Hopkins, as a fearsome newcomer to the elite level battered the valiant legend
– With Andy Lee reigning alongside Carl Frampton, this is the first time Ireland has boasted two titlists since an overlap between the reigns of Wayne McCullough and Steve Collins in 1995 and 1996.
Hon the Irish!