Boxing needs new blood to keep growing, to keep picking up new fans and in hopes break out the niche sport category it has been stuck in for decades. Boxing before the middle of the last century was one of the biggest sports in the nation if not in the world. In the United States in was only behind the then “national pastime”, baseball, but now it is relegated to perhaps the dark room of the house.
This year the sport saw a number of breakout stars who might make even more noise in 2016. One that made a big jump over the big pond is IBF super middleweight champion James “Chunky” DeGale. In his first fight of 2015, DeGale defeated the highly touted Andre Dirrell to capture the vacant 168-pound title. In his second fight, in late November, he put on a masterful performance against former champ Lucien Bute in his opponent’s backyard. With the unanimous decision with and with Andre Ward possibly officially moving up in weight, DeGale quite possible cements himself as the best super middleweight champion in the world.
Another guy from the British island who is also making some waves is undefeated heavyweight Anthony Joshua. With only fifteen fights under his belt, Joshua is proving to be an exciting up and coming prospect whom many people, especially the Brits, have put a lot of confidence in. In his last fight against fellow undefeated Dillian Whyte, Joshua looked vulnerable at times but was able to pull off an exciting knockout win in the seventh. With the win Joshua raised his stock not only in the U.K. but in the rest of the boxing world.
Needless to say, newly crowned WBA and WBO heavyweight champion Tyson Fury also became an international name with his surprising win over the long-reigning champ Wladimir Klitschko. Of all the names on this list, Fury is the most charismatic, the loose cannon with his actions and words which might make him a bigger star or cause him, and his team, a lot of trouble.
With his win over the ultra-popular Lucas Matthysse last October for the vacant WBC light welterweight title, Viktor “Iceman” Postol made a name for himself within the sport. Undefeated, trained by Freddie Roach and from the new hotbed of boxing talent, Ukraine, Postol has the skill and talent to make some noise this year if he can find opponents to face.
The award actually goes to a ten-year veteran, three-divisional champion and current WBC flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. This past twelve months Gonzalez performed three times looking impressive in each fight. The last two fights were on two of the biggest stages of the sport. His second round TKO of Edgar Sosa was on HBO on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin vs Willie Monroe Jr and his ninth round stoppage of former champ Brian Viloria was on the Pay-Per-View undercard of Golovkin vs. Lemieux. Paired up with the middleweight star like Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez over twenty years ago, Gonzalez has proven to be gaining a strong fan base despite weighing as much as a sixth grade boy.