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2022 Boxing Comeback of the Year: Brian Mendoza

Brian Mendoza

2021 Winner: Kiko Martinez

With two losses one to Larry Gomez on a Top Rank undercard, when he was fighting on Top Rank shows, followed by a loss to our 2021 Prospect of the Year Jesus Ramos Jr., seemed to relegate Mendoza to a career on the b-side. Trained by the very good trainer, Ismael Salas, Mendoza stayed busy in the gym, got a win this year, and served as one of the main sparring partners for Erislandy Lara’s fight earlier this year. 

When Yoelvis Gomez was forced to withdraw from his fight with former unified world champion Jeison Rosario, Mendoza stepped up on two weeks’ notice only to stop Rosario in five rounds, and retire him from the sport. 

Boxing is full of missed opportunities, but Mendoza brought new life to his career, as the once highly touted punching prospect, now one of the most compelling figures in two different weight classes, both 154 lbs., and 160 lbs., as he somehow has more momentum than the man who he beat last year – Jesus Ramos Jr., go figure. 

Mendoza seized an opportunity and became the 2022 Comeback Fighter of the Year with a major win. 

Honorable Mentions

Leigh Wood – With back-to-back upset wins spanning over two years, Wood defeated Xu Can, and Michael Conlan in consecutive fights, being considered an underdog in both fights. Wood is now one of the top fighters in Matchroom Boxing, even though he isn’t treated that way. Wood has earned his spot, with two losses on his record that is not all that common. Wood is an old-school fighter, who has learned from his losses, and is one of the best in his division. 

Alycia Baumgardner – Baumgardner had a rough year in 2018, in which she had some ugly fights, some forgettable fights, and a loss. That period of her career defined her until her win over Mikaela Mayer. In a razor-close fight, Baumgardner became a legend of her era, dethroning Mikaela Mayer in the fight that people are still confused about how to score. Baumgardner fight her career-defining fight and became a legend with the win. 

Kiko Martinez – Nearly a back-to-back winner of the award. Martinez was stopped by Josh Warrington, as Martinez was a hand-selected opponent for Warrington, given that Martinez held a world title after his Kid Galahad KO win. Jordan Gill tried to prove he was a world-level fighter and learned a hard lesson that Kiko Martinez is not going anywhere, any time soon. Martinez is an icon of beating regional fighters, who have been built up.

Dakota Linger – Linger, a hard-luck fighter, stopped Josue Vargas, and now will have a bit of forward progression to his career moving forward. 

Yuni Takada — With a record of 10-8-3 his minimumweight knockout of Katsuki Mori now has him in the running to land a huge fight, despite a record that looks the part of a journeyman. 

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle