Year-end 2023 boxing awards, sure everyone’s got them. The assembled writers of NY Fights are no exception. We covered it all from coast to coast and continent to continent in 2023.
The sign of a good year in boxing shows up when there are multiple candidates across categories. Our journalists submitted their top choices and, if inclined, gave us the reasons behind them.
Unlike so many other issues in this sport, there are no right or wrong answers, only compliments, and recognition for deserving athletes who give their all for the sport. Your choices may differ, and there’s room for all of them.
The NY Fights 2023 Boxing Awards
Fighters of the Year: Naoya Inoue and Terence Crawford
The choices came down to two exceptional, generational talents: “The Monster” Naoya Inoue of Japan and Terence “Bud” Crawford of Omaha, Nebraska.
Editor Michael Woods and writers Colin Morrison and Ryan O’Hara made the case for a tie. Woods said he would pick Bud if forced to do so but resisted. “Why not luxuriate when bestowed thusly?” said Woods. We’re going with it.
The remaining votes were split evenly between Crawford and Inoue. Writer Beowulf Jones made the case for Inoue. “Naoya Inoue unified all four belts at bantamweight and junior featherweight practically within a calendar year. Terence Crawford is amazing, but even his accomplishments this year cannot compete with Inoue’s.”
Writer Cassandra Cousineau calls it for Crawford. “No fighter this year left such an indelible mark in the ring. I will never forget Bud dominated that fight, was more ferociously vicious, and beat the tire tracks off every side of the street argument. He is HIM!”
So – we aren't fighting what seems obvious. Call it a draw of the highest quality where neither fighter deserves to lose, and both deserve to win.
Fight of the Year: Five Top Choices
There was no consensus on a top choice, with many nominees in different fights. With it being such a close call, we gift our readers with a half dozen outstanding battles in 2023.
The selections in timeline order: Luis Nery vs Azat Hovhannisyan (February 18, 2023); Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko (May 21, 2023); Jaime Munguia vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (June 11, 2023); Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton (July 25, 2023), Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford (July 29, 2023),
Round of the Year: Foster vs. Hernandez R11
Two choices rise to the top of this category. Both turned the narrative of their respective fights around and changed the outcome for the victorious fighter after digging down for a massive effort. But the stronger case was made for the winner.
Writer Jack Kelly said, “If this round was in a boxing movie, it might be looked at as too unrealistic. Foster began to really put it on Hernandez, who appeared out on his feet for most of the round before rallying to hurt Foster and land a flurry of punches in the final minute. Unbelievable scene that embodies what boxing is all about.” Jones called it “movie-perfect,” making the same choice.
Also nominated: Robiesy Ramirez vs. Rafael Espinoza, Round 12 (December 10, 2023); and Leigh Wood vs. Josh Warrington, Round 7 (October 7, 2023).
Prospect of the Year: Bruce Carrington
More differences of opinion among the nominees, but by a narrow vote, the selection for Prospect of the Year is Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington. The 26-year-old New York native fighting out of Brooklyn fought five times in 2023, putting a stamp on his year with a sensational second-round knockout win over Jason Sanchez on December 9. Sanchez had never been stopped. The flashy featherweight Carrington is now 10-0 with six knockouts with a bright future ahead.
Also nominated: heavyweight Richard Torrez Jr. of Tulare, California, and lightweight Andy Cruz of Miami via Cuba. Take note: all three enjoyed exceptional amateur careers, with Torrez Jr. winning silver and Cruz gold in Tokyo. Cruz defeated Keyshawn Davis for his win. Carrington was on track for an Olympic team spot that went to Duke Ragan. Instead, Carrington turned to the pro ranks, which perfectly suits him.
Knockout of the Year: Nakatani over Moloney
Doesn’t every boxing fan love a knockout win? Knockouts are like pizza: they’re never too bad, and many are incredibly tasty. Whether it’s a beat down, a body shot, or a smack to the head, dropping the opponent to the canvas, there’s something for everyone.
Among several worthy choices, the brutal 12th-round knockout by super flyweight Junto Nakatani over Andrew Moloney was stunning to behold. It was Nakatani's third and final knockout of the fight to win the vacant WBO World Junior Bantamweight title.
Colin Morrison said, “Junto Nakatani's huge left hand that turned the lights out instantly on Andrew Moloney in the final round of their super flyweight world title fight in Las Vegas in May wins this category hands down for me. Junto Nakatani could rename himself JuntKO and no one could argue.”
Kelly called it “spine-chilling” and “tough to watch.” If you inexplicably missed it, we’ll treat you to a look.
Also nominated: Zhilei Zhang over Joe Joyce R3, September 23; Adrian Curiel over Sivenathi Notshinga, R2, November 9; Luis Alberto Lopez over Michael Conlan, R5, May 27.
Trainer of the Year: Brian McIntyre
Brian “BoMac” McIntyre got the nod for his work with Terence Crawford and Chris Eubank Jr. He also trains prospect and Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis and has trained former world champion Jamel Herring. It was McIntyre’s work with Crawford giving him the nod.
“Despite rich success in the sport, McIntyre never truly got the credit he deserved, but that all changed in 2023,” said writer Jack Kelly.
Also nominated: Ben Davison (Anthony Joshua); Bill Haney (Devin Haney); Shingo Inoue (Naoya Inoue).
Upset of the Year: Joseph Parker over Deontay Wilder
Perhaps it was the shock value and the future implication leading our NY Fights team to narrowly choose the decision victory by Joseph Parker of New Zealand over Deontay Wilder of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as the Upset of the Year.
Writer Beowulf Jones said, “Parker suffered a savage 2022 knockout at the hands of Joe Joyce, and surely whatever Joyce can do, Wilder can do faster. Instead, Parker outclassed Wilder every single round, which is incredible.”
The victory has at least temporarily derailed the expected showdown between Wilder and Anthony Joshua. Stay tuned in 2024 to see whether the matchup comes to pass.
Also nominated: Brian Mendoza over Sebastian Fundora, April 8; Jose Felix over Gary Cully, May 20; Chantelle Cameron over Katie Taylor, May 23; Adrian Curiel over Sivenathi Notshinga, November 9; and Rafael Espinoza over Robeisy Ramirez, December 10.
We must acknowledge the third-round knockout win by Jose Felix of Mexico, a 33-1 underdog to Irish prospect Gary Cully, on May 20. Felix was the biggest underdog to win a fight in 2023. Haven’t UK promoters learned by now about the danger of “Mystery Mexican” opponents?