|A monster year for the "Monster" Inoue|
2014 Breakout Fighter of the Year: Kosei Tanaka
|Breakout Year for Tanaka in 2014|
Even at this stage, Tanaka's chances are huge against any 105-pounder in the world.
Runner Up: Ryo Matsumoto
Honorable Mention: Takuma Inoue
The 2014 Comeback of the Year: Ryoichi Taguchi
|Comeback for Taguchi|
Following a ten round decision loss to Naoya Inoue in 2013, Ryoichi Taguchi followed up with a strong 2014. In his first bout of the year, Taguchi, 28, won a close unanimous decision over former world champion Florante Condes in an eight round bout. On the last day of the year, the Japanese fighter raised his record to 21-2-1 (8) and captured the WBA light flyweight title with a comprehensive unanimous decision over Peru's Alberto Rossel. Taguchi dropped Rossel in rounds eight and nine en route to taking home scores of 117-109, 116-111, and 116-110. After being unable to capitalize on a big opportunity in 2013, Taguchi punched his comeback card by scoring his two biggest career wins in 2014.
Runner Up: Moruti Mthalane
Honorable Mention: Denver Cuello
Bantamweight & Below Upset of the Year:
Juan Carlos Payano Tech. Dec. 6 Anselmo Moreno
In spite of his 2012 defeat to Abner Mares, Anselmo Moreno was still considered by many to be the top bantamweight in the world in 2014. Many were wondering just who Juan Carlos Payano was going into his September challenge of Moreno. Now, at the start of a new year, people are still wondering who Payano is and how he managed to defeat Moreno, who was once touted as a comparison to Pernell Whitaker for his defensive boxing. Coming into the bout, Payano was 15-0 (8) with only badly faded veterans on his record. However, Payano was catching Moreno at a period of time when he had been relatively inactive.
After a second round clash of heads, Payano emerged with a bad gash over his right eye.
|Payano's persistence payed off|
Runner Up: Rey Loreto KO 3 Nkosinathi Joyi
Honorable Mention: Faris Nenggo TKO 4 Merlito Sabillo
Bantamweight & Below Knockout of the Year: Rey Loreto KO 3 Nkosinathi Joyi
|The B&B KO of the Year|
Runner Up: Pedro Guevara KO 7 Akira Yaegashi
Honorable Mention: Donnie Nietes KO 9 Moises Fuentes
|Kogawa didn't get the W in Thailand|
While I often point fans toward Bantamweight & Below to find the best boxing action on the planet, the lightest five divisions cannot provide a safe haven from poor officiating. In March, Japan's Takuya Kogawa traveled to Thailand in an attempt to lift the interim WBA title from Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep. The speedier Kogawa appeared to outwork the slow-footed interim titlist early on. Again, it was the case of one fighter, the champion, landing harder shots and the challenger throwing and landing in flashier volume. Saengthep stepped up the pace late in the contest to save his belt, but the Japanese boxer raised his volume each time, throwing well over one hundred punches in the final frame. In the end, Saengthep retained the title by scores of 116-113, 115-114, and 114-114. However, close margins like that at home support that the Thai fighter was a bit lucky to keep his number one status. Numerous viewers from ringside reported scoring the bout for Kogawa.
Runner Up: Kohei Kono D12 Norberto Jimenez
Honorable Mention: Knockout CP Freshmart UD12 Carlos Buitrago
Fight of the Year: Francisco Rodriguez Jr. W12 Katsunari Takayama
|Rodriguez batters Takayama in the B&B Fight of the Year|
Rodriguez was particularly successful with the left hook, dropping Takayama with one to the chest in round three. Several of the later rounds could be counted among the best of the year as the two refused to give an inch to the other. Unanimous decision scores (119-108, 116-111, and 115-112) favored Rodriguez, too widely in the eyes of many, but the right fighter won.
Runner Up: Kosei Tanaka TKO 10 Ryuji Hara
Honorable Mention: Paul Butler SD12 Stuart Hall
The Bantamweight & Below 2014 Fighter of the Year: Naoya Inoue
|Inoue is KO's little Fighter of the Year|
In the process, Inoue, 21, made history by becoming the quickest fighter to become a two-division world champion in just eight professional bouts. Dethroning respected champions Adrian Hernandez and Omar Andres Narvaez, a combined 72-3-3 at fight time, in order to do so really seals the deal for Inoue. Inoue's resume credentials for Fighter of the Year in general match up well with Terence Crawford and Sergey Kovalev, the two most commonly chosen recipients in the year 2014.
Runner Up: Roman Gonzalez
Honorable Mention: Amnat Ruenroeng
Written by Derek Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest
Find more of Derek's writings at SecondsOut.com