HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: Breakthrough HBO Fighter

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, Breakthrough HBO Fighter.

Previously: Fighter of the Year.

Kieran Mulvaney: Adonis Stevenson

It's tempting to nominate Gennady Golovkin, who only made his HBO debut last year and is now widely regarded as being, at worst, on the fringe of many pound-for-pound lists. But I'm going with Stevenson, who exploded onto HBO with a first-round obliteration of Chad Dawson (followed by a 5-mile sprint around the ring) and hasn't looked back. Honorable mentions to Sergey Kovalev and Ruslan Provodnikov.

Eric Raskin: Ruslan Provodnikov

There were so many excellent candidates for this one, and I might have given it to Adonis Stevenson if I hadn't already named him my Fighter of the Year. Instead, in a narrow decision over Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Mikey Garcia, I'm picking Provodnikov because of the leap he made relative to my expectations coming into the year. I assumed he was an ESPN2-level boxer, little more than a clubfighter. By nearly defeating Tim Bradley and then forcing a surrender out of Mike Alvarado, the all-action Provodnikov proved me all sorts of wrong.

Nat Gottlieb: Gennady Golovkin

I give it to Golovkin over Stevenson because people already knew about Stevenson coming into this year. Golovkin was largely unknown stateside until this year when he exploded onto the boxing scene by knocking out all four of his opponents in breathtaking fashion. The future is limitless with this guy. The problem is finding opponents for him.

Tim Smith: Adonis Stevenson

Adonis Stevenson is soaring in rarified air. It is not often that a fighter can take over a single division with the kind of concussive force that Stevenson displayed in 2013. Doing it the hard way, starting with the best lightweight heavyweight in the sport, Chad Dawson, Stevenson smashed his way through the division. He won all three of his 2013 matches by knockout. Now he stands as the best light heavyweight champion in the game, setting up an explosive 2014. 

Hamilton Nolan: Adonis Stevenson

He knocked off the champ, and knocked out the challengers, and covered the most distance of any fighter in terms of vaulting from relative unknown status to solidified champion status. He should beat Kovalev, but it'll be close.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson

"Superman" came in to his bout against Chad Dawson as a 7-1 underdog. It'd have been one thing to eke out a win over the lineal light heavyweight champion, but knocking him out before the first round was even out? That was truly shocking. And he followed it up with two impressive defenses, showing that his signature victory was no fluke.