Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

By Paul Jones - 01/02/2024 - Comments

January 2, 2024 – By Paul R. Jones!   As we say goodbye to 2023, EAST SIDE BOXING hands out its annual “ESBY” awards to honor boxing’s top fighters, fights, knockouts, and moments.

Here are our 2023 ESBY Award Winners and Nominees:


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!


Our FIGHTER OF THE YEAR award goes to Naoya Inoue, a fighter who leveled up in 2023 by moving up the scales to take on and defeat stiff competition at 122 pounds (Stephen Fulton JR. and Marlon Tapales), and ultimately become a two-division undisputed world champ in just over a year. That’s rarefied air that the Monster is living in.

Taken together, INOUE’s activity level, willingness to take significant risks, ongoing KO streak, and the compressed timeline of his legacy play were enough to edge cRAWFORD — who notched the year’s most impressive victory — to earn our 2023 FIGHTER OF THE YEAR honors.


Terence Crawford


Devin Haney

David Benavidez


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Katie Taylor

Our Female Fighter of the Year award goes out to one-half of the duo responsible for producing women’s boxing preeminent prequel and sequel of 2023: KATIE TAYLOR.

TAYLOR’s greatness was undeniable in 2023, with the reigning undisputed lightweight world champ moving up to 140 pounds to chase greatness in May. Although Taylor came up short in her first bid to become a two-division champ versus CAMERON, and she saw her unblemished record erased, she showed resilience by chasing that loss with an immediate rematch that saw her edge CAMERON over 10 nip-and-tuck rounds. The victory was another career-defining win for TAYLOR, which made her the reigning undisputed champ at 140 and 135 pounds.

TAYLOR‘s ability to help sell out the 3Arena in Dublin (a testament to their star power), her legacy play to capture world titles in two divisions, and her ability to beat a prime and undefeated CAMERON in their rematch made the Ireland native well deserving of Female Fighter of the Year honors.


Amanda Serrano

Yokasta “Yoka” Valle


YESICA Nery Plata

Savannah Marshall


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Luis Nery KO11 Azat Hovhannisyan

Our FIGHT OF THE YEAR was simple: Luis Nery KO11 Azat Hovhannisyan.

With all due respect to the other worthy FIGHT OF THE YEAR candidates, including (but not limited to) Munguía vs. Derevyanchenko and Ramirez vs. Espinoza, we fought against the usual gravitational pull of recency bias to hand our top honors in this category to two pint-sized super bantamweights who put on an instant classic back in February. Mexico’s Luis “Pantera” Nery gutted out an emphatic win over a game Azat Hovhannisyan in an all-out war. Their matchup, a WBC Title Eliminator, set the early standard for action-packed fights in 2023, with both fighters wasting few punches, while trading heavy leather in a high-octane Mexican-style fight, which culminated in a 10th round stoppage win for Nery over Hovhannisyan.


Jaime Munguía UD12 Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Joe Cordina SD12 ShavkatDZHON Rakhimov

Devin Haney UD12 VASYL Lomachenko

Emanuel Navarrete UD12 Óscar Valdez

Rafael Espinoza MD12 Robeisy Ramirez


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Chantelle Cameron UD10 Katie Taylor

Although both scraps between KATIE TAYLOR and CHANTELLE CAMERON were compelling and worthy of top honors, it was the TAYLOR vs. CAMERON prequel that walked away with our 2023 FIGHT OF THE YEAR honors for Women’s Boxing, which featured CAMERON’s close (scorecards: 96-94 [twice], 95-95), but convincing upset win over the reigning Undisputed Lightweight Champ and then undefeated KATIE TAYLOR in a high-stakes, tactical matchup.


Cameron MD10 Taylor – II

YESICA Nery Plata UD10 Kim Clavel

Amanda Serrano UD10 Erika Cruz

Alycia Baumgardner UD10 Christina Linardatou

Terri Harper Mdraw Cecilia Brækhus


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!



Despite SHOWTIME Boxing shuddering its doors after more than 3 decades, ending the network’s iconic SHOWTIME Championship Boxing and ShoBox: The New Generation series, PBC promoted some of 2023’s most compelling matchups, including many of the bouts that helped to move the needle in the sweet science (e.g., SPENCE vs. Crawford, Benavidez vs. Plant, Ennis vs. Villa). Because PBC fights were associated with a potential PPV blockbuster (i.e., Davis vs. GARCIA with over 1M reported buys), some of the strongest live gate numbers of the year (i.e., SPENCE Jr. vs. Crawford), and this promotional outfit was able to strike a deal with Amazon to stream PBC fights moving forward (potentially to a larger audience), PBC was our surefire pick for 2023 Promoter of the Year.



Golden Boy Promotions (oscar de la hoya)


Queensberry Promotions (Frank Warren)


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Junto Nakatani KO12 Andrew Moloney

Undefeated Super Flyweight World Champ JUNTO NAKATANI‘s flatline KTFO of Aussie ANDREW MOLONEY on the undercard of Haney vs. Lomachenko certainly had the high stakes (a vacant WBO World Super Flyweight title was on the line) and wow factor (a spectacular walk-off KTFO) that we covet in a fight of the year candidate. And although this spectacular knockout happened after NAKATANI had already downed MOLONEY twice in the fight and was comfortably ahead on the cards, those shortcomings simply cannot outweigh the spectacle of NAKATANI’s must-see KTFO.


Zhilei Zhang KTFO3 Joe Joyce

Mark Magsayo KtfO3 Isaac Avelar

Jose Valenzuela KTFO6 Chris Colbert

Ja’Rico O’Quinn KTFO5 Peter McGrail


Jordan White KTFO1 Eridson Garcia


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Julissa Alejandra Guzman KO8 Ramla Ali

In RAMLA ALI’s inaugural defense of her IBF Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title, ALI was caught slipping like a transmission against the more experienced Julissa Alejandra Guzman. This upset knockout win for Guzman was our selection for Women’s Boxing’s knockout of the year with stakes, spectacle, and significance all tied into one.


Mia Ellis KTFO2 Jessica Emerick

Maricela Cornejo KTFO1 Cynthia Lozano


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Brian “BoMac” McIntyre

With the success of McIntyre’s stable of fighters that features the Pound-for-Pound kingpin, Terence Crawford, former Olympians (Shakur Stevenson, Keyshawn Davis), and Chris Eubank Jr., it’s hard to argue against “BoMac” as the 2023 trainer of the year. Any arguments to the contrary were nixed after “BoMac” developed the gameplan that CRAWFORD executed to thump the former unified champ, Errol Spence Jr., in July.



Bill Haney Sr.


Calvin Ford and Kenny Ellis

Bozy Ennis


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Last seen being stopped by Light Heavyweight World Champion, Artur Beterbiev, in 2019, Oleksandr Gvozdyk returned to the ring in 2023 after a 3-year hiatus. And to his credit, Gvozdyk picked up where he left off, rattling off three dominant wins in a row (Obando, Bolotniks, Rodrigues) on his comeback trail. The Ukrainian “Nail” is clearly on pace to reenter the mix at 175 pounds, and, therefore, he’s our pick for the COMEBACK FIGHTER OF THE YEAR.


Jamel Herring

Dusty Hernández-Harrison

Adrien Broner


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: O’Shaquie Foster

O’Shaquie Foster may have flown under the radar of all but the most astute boxing fans, but make no mistake: FOSTER turned in a 2023 to remember. After easily outpointing then undefeated and reigning Featherweight World Champ, Rey Vargas, in February, to claim a vacant WBC World Super Featherweight title, FOSTER defended his crown in October with a marquee win over ranked contender, EDUARDO “ROCKY” HERNANDEZ. Importantly, FOSTER dropped HERNANDEZ twice, and stopped the Mexico native in the final round of their mandatory world title fight, with HERNANDEZ leading on 2 scorecards (107-102, 110-99) going into the final round.

Taken together, FOSTER’s active 11-fight win streak (dating back to 2016), his willingness to take risks, and his strength of schedule, made him a shoo-in for our most improved fighter OF THE YEAR award.


Zhilei Zhang

Rafael Espinoza

Sam Goodman

Lamont Roach

Giovani Santillan


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Joseph Parker UD12 Deontay Wilder

Although a cogent case can be made for dramatic upsets in fights like Ramirez vs. Espinoza and Fundora vs. Mendoza, it was JOSEPH PARKER’s shutout win over vaunted puncher, DEONTAY WILDER, that took home our award 2023 UPSET OF THE YEAR.

In short, after recommending that PARKER should pack a pillow and expect to get knocked out in the WILDER vs. PARKER prefight buildup, it was WILDER who ended up failing to backup his prophecy, losing by wide UD to PARKER. In fact, it was PARKER who had WILDER in danger of being stopped in the 8th round of their matchup. Because virtually no one (including Vegas oddsmakers and yours truly), outside of, perhaps, JOSEPH PARKER and his Team, had PARKER beating, let alone shutting out DEONTAY WILDER on their bingo card, this was an easy choice for this superlative.


Rafael Espinoza MD12 Robeisy Ramirez

Brian Mendoza KO7 Sebastian Fundora

Giovani Santillan KO6 Alexis Rocha

Agit Kabayel TKO4 Arslanbek Makhmudov

Mario Barrios UD12 Yordenis Ugas


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Raymond Muratalla

Lightweight badass, RAYMOND MURATALLA, just missed the cut for our PROSPECT OF THE YEAR award in years past, but the undefeated knockout artist is squarely in our crosshairs as the 2023 BREAKOUT FIGHTER OF THE YEAR. Riding a four-fight knockout streak, and having made the successful transition from blue chip prospect to bonafide contender, “Danger” MURATALLA is the total package and an absolute nightmare for opposing lightweights.

Not only did MURATALLA stay active in 2023, but he maintained a high level of competition as well (the combined record of his opponents going into their bouts with the Californian this year was 55-4-1). Equally important, MURATALLA has even garnered praise his predecessors, including former World Champ, Tim Bradley, who proclaimed that MURATALLA is “the most dangerous 135-pounder right now” after “Danger” thumped former undefeated lightweight, Diego Torres in October. Bradly even went as far as to pick MURATALLA to beat the likes of Devin Haney and Keyshawn Davis, should they lock horns in the future. That’s high praise for 26-year-old contender, who made the strongest case for this year’s BREAKOUT FIGHTER OF THE YEAR award.


Subriel Matías

Richard Hitchins

Xander Zayas

Rafael Espinoza

Elvis Rodriguez


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!


Decorated amateur and undefeated featherweight prospect, Bruce “Shu-Shu” Carrington, walked away with our PROSPECT OF THE YEAR honors by a landslide. CARRINGTON fought five times in 2023, winning most of his bouts within 8 rounds. Based on his busy schedule and knack for finishing off his foes in impressive fashion (e.g., CARRINGTON reportedly broke Brandon Chambers’ jaw in their matchup), it was a no-brainer to pick CARRINGTON for this award over the remaining field of worthy candidates.


Andy Cruz

Paulo Aokuso

Richard Torrez Jr

Curmel Moton

Troy Isley


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Caroline Dubois

CAROLINE DUBOIS, the sister of Heavyweight slugger, Daniel Dubois, put together a stellar 2023 campaign capped by UD win over Magali Rodriguez to claim a vacant IBO World Lightweight title. Dubois shined in the matchup, flooring Rodriguez multiple times in her first 10-round bout as a pro. The Londoner managed to squeeze in two other fights in 2023, in which she also recorded knockdowns against her opposition, including a stoppage of FERICHE MASHAURY in February and decision win over YANINA del CARMEN ESCANO in June. Collectively, the caliver of Dubois’ wins, coupled with her undefeated record, seek-and-destroy fighting style, and her ability to secure a IBO World title in only her 8th fight, made her a lock for our selection as 2023’s PROSPECT OF THE YEAR in Women’s Boxing.


Skye Nicolson

Lauren Price

Taylah Robertson

Maisey Rose Courtney

Beatriz “THE BEAST” Ferreira


Boxing’s Best Of 2023: East Side Boxing Hands Out Its Annual Awards!

🏆WINNER: Tony Weeks’ Questionable stoppage of Rolando Romero VS. Ismael Barroso

This year’s WORST DECISION OF THE YEAR goes out to veteran referee Tony Weeks for his questionable stoppage of ROMERO vs. BARROSO, which resulted in a 9th-round TKO win for Rolando “Rolly” Romero over Ismael Barroso.

By most accounts, Romero and Barroso were engaging in a highly-entertaining scrap, for a vacant WBA World Super Lightweight title, which BARROSO appear to be winning based, in part, on BARROSO scoring a 3rd-round knockdown of ROMERO and the Venezuelan serving as the clear aggressor throughout most of the fight. However, WEEKS would completely botch the fight by inexplicably waiving off the bout with about 20 seconds left in the 9th round, presumably to protect BARROSO from potential punishment. However, the only problem was that BARROSO did not appear to be in any real danger at the time of WEEKS’ inexcusable stoppage in the 9th round. In fact, at the time of the stoppage, BARROSO appeared to be defending himself intelligently, having already fired back a handful of punches after avoiding an incoming flurry of punches from Romero seconds beforehand. What made matter worse, BARROSO was ahead on all 3 scorecards at the time of the stoppage, and he had already dropped ROMERO earlier in the fight to help build his lead. To see BARROSO work so hard to get the upper hand on ROMERO, only to have WEEKS snatch a potential victory away from BARROSO, without probable cause, was completely uncalled for, and provided yet another case study of boxing referees behaving badly.

For WEEKS’ questionable call, which could’ve cost the 40-year-old BARROSO a legitimate shot at a world title in the twilight of his career, we bestowed the WORST DECISION OF THE YEAR honors on WEEKS.


Carlos Adames TKO9 Julian Williams

Erickson Lubin UD12 Jesus Ramos Jr.

Joe Cordina MD12 Edward Vazquez

Jessica McCaskill SDRAW Sandy Ryan


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It would mean a lot to us.

Finally, dear readers, I wish you the very best in the 2024!


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About the Author: 

Paul R. Jones! is a longtime boxing writer and ringside photographer for EAST SIDE BOXING. His articles, photographs, and commentaries have appeared on many online outlets (such as Boxing News 24, Round by Round Boxing, Boxing Insider, and, as well as in print and scholarly journals.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @boxingepicenter. Email or send him a tip at

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