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Who deserves 2016 Fighter of the Year honors?

As 2016 officially winds down there’s no clear-cut standout. And perhaps that’s a good thing.

Leo Santa Cruz v Carl Frampton Photo by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

The end of the year always marks a time of reflection. So reflecting on all of the disappointment this sport often delivers, I think we should also bask in knowing that we had a really competitive year in a lot of respects.

There’s no fighter that stands head and shoulders above the rest in 2016 accomplishments, and that’s because we’ve had a number of fighters make solid cases for themselves. Carl Frampton has just been named Fighter of the Year for his 2016 campaign, and WBN currently has Vasyl Lomachenko with a comfortable lead in their current fan poll.

So let’s take a quick look at some of the top candidates for this year and talk about who most deserves the honors.

Carl Frampton: Went on the road to unify world titles against Scott Quigg in February. He secured a split decision win and cracked Quigg’s jaw, then turned his attention stateside for a jump to featherweight and to challenge Leo Santa Cruz. Frampton would emerge victorious in that fight as well, in a very entertaining scrap, while also becoming Ireland’s first two weight world champion.

Terence Crawford: Kicked off the year by beating Hank Lundy in five rounds. He then took on the number two guy in the division, in a title unification fight against Viktor Postol. That fight wasn’t even close, proving that Crawford has no peer in the junior welterweight division. Crawford then closed the year in a fight against John Molina Jr. earlier this month. That was easy work but made him 3-0 in title fights this year.

Vasyl Lomachenko: If this award were just about looking smooth in the ring, it would easily go to Lomachenko. He knocked out Rocky Martinez in June, and dominated what was expected to be a competitive fight against Nicholas Walters. He’s made it all look so easy that a fighter with only 8 professional fights is already debated as being the best in the world.

Andre Ward: Made the move to light heavyweight to line-up a highly anticipated fight against Sergey Kovalev. Before that went down though, he quite easily beat Sullivan Barrera in late March, and then dominated Alexander Brand in August in a couple of tune-ups. Ward would end up in beating Kovalev in a hotly-debated decision, but it was a huge win on his resume.

Roman Gonzalez: Beat McWilliams Arroyo in April, then moved up to face Carlos Cuadras to win a belt in his fourth weight class. That made him Nicaragua’s first four weight world champion.

Manny Pacquiao: Proved that he has Timothy Bradley’s number in a third fight in April, leaving no doubt, if there ever was any, that he can still compete with the best of ‘em. Then went on to recapture another welterweight title by soundly beating Jessie Vargas in November.

Tell me who you think should get the honors and make your case in the comments below.

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