The 2015 “Fighter of the Year” is Nicaragua's Roman Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was already (2-0) in 2015, a fighting champion who has always preferred to stay active. Then, in September of 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired, leaving the #1 pound for pound spot open for the taking.
Despite operating in the lower weight classes with limited attention his undefeated record of (43-0) earned him considerable support for the number one spot. Likewise, there were many who dismissed the three weight class world titlist because those belts have come at Strawweight, Light Fly and Flyweight.
Gonzalez, the humble 28 year old from Barrio La Esperanza would enter his October 17th fight with Brian Viloria at New York's Madison Square Garden with unprecedented attention. Viloria, who was (36-4) at the time, is a highly skilled two weight class former world champion himself. Though at 36 he was older than his opponent by 8 years, Viloria was highly motivated entering the fight and he came in tremendous shape.
Viloria started the fight aggressively, going after Gonzalez with a varied offense. Gonzalez stayed very composed, flashing good defense and good combinations of his own. In round three, Gonzalez took it up a notch, dropping Viloria and taking over the fight.
What followed was a virtuoso performance by Gonzalez. He increased the pressure round after round, throwing more and more multi-punch combinations that withered Viloria's body. By the ninth round, Viloria's defense and resistance were gone, and Gonzalez was landing at will until the stoppage came.
Gonzalez entered the fight with many critics looking for excuses to bad mouth the erstwhile #1 pound for pound king. But Gonzalez shined. He changed the minds of a great deal of boxing's intelligentsia with his performance. Many were won over by the display Gonzalez gave us against Viloria.
The fight was given co-headline position on the Gennady Golovkin versus David Lemieux pay-per-view. The pairing of Gonzalez and Golovkin, who were both making their pay-per-view debuts, sold over 200,000 buys, enough for HBO executives to talk about pairing the two up again.
At the end of 2015, Gonzalez is (3-0) over the last calendar year, and his last fight showed that the young Nicaraguan was not going to give his grip up on the #1 pound for pound spot on the Transnational Boxing Rankings. The force of Gonzalez' case as pound for pound #1 was strengthened by his spotlight fight in October, and for handling the pressure with humility and class as well as skill, Roman Gonzalez is the 2015 Fighter of the Year.