Boxing had a decent year in 2011, though it still didn't contain the biggest fight the sport could make. Hopefully, great fights get made in 2012 and the sport starts to flourish.
Even if boxing's star fighters don't participate in serious bouts or fight the best competition out there, boxing will survive. No matter what happens, new boxers come out every year who fans didn't know about and shake up the sport.
It is the best part of boxing, because when the superstars fail or become stale, there is a young, hungry fighter who is ready to step into the spotlight.
Some of these fighters are already known in certain parts of the world, but on a global scale, they might not have made a name yet.
Here are 15 fighters, ranging from prospect to champion, who fans might not have heard of—or have just been ignored.
There was a time when small fighters were a staple in American boxing. This doesn't mean Manny Pacquiao small, it means those who weigh under 120 pounds.
Showtime still has smaller fighters on its boxing shows, but no one really goes south of bantamweight anymore, which is a shame as Roman Gonzalez could make some good fights.
He has some attractive options for who he could fight in 2012, ranging from knockout artist Giovani Segura to Brian Viloria, the counterpuncher who just beat him.
Gonzalez might even campaign for top flyweight Pongsaklek Wonjongkam. It is a long shot to make that fight, but it could happen.
He would have to move up in weight, and if he does, he might get noticed by the mainstream.
Hernan Marquez isn't an unknown in Mexico. He constantly fights on TV down there.
Unfortunately, on a global scale, he is unheard of and has yet to make the money that the top fighters in boxing do.
His first fight with Luis Concepcion was a Fight of the Year contender, and he does knock people out.
Even though he doesn't live up to his nickname "Tyson," he is still a fighter who likes to engage and wins fights. He doesn't have the most glamorous record, having lost two fights in a row in 2010, but he's since rebounded with five wins including his two bouts with Concepcion.
He is only 23, so he should have some time to build his name up, but if he keeps getting into thrilling encounters, it won't take long before he makes his way stateside.
Never heard of Carlos Cuadras? Not surprising.
The young Mexican is just starting out his career and hasn't really fought anyone with a major name. His problem is that there aren't many names to begin with in the super flyweight division.
Many of the money fights are at bantamweight, which is only three pounds heavier, but Cuadras isn't there.
He has several wins over decent fighters, and at 23, that is impressive. He also has a decent amateur background.
Jamie McDonnell is another fighter who isn't exactly hidden from boxing viewers' eyes but hasn't made it to that global level.
He is actually the European champ at bantamweight, but as mentioned before, that puts him under the radar of most fans.
He had two losses at the beginning of his career but has done well since then, winning the Commonwealth title and the European title.
He is a boxer with little power, but a tough chin.
At 25, he has a little bit more time before he needs to step up to world class if he wants to make his name known.
Scott Quigg is yet another non-American who makes the list. Quigg is just one weight class above Jamie McDonnell, but he hasn't quite gotten to the same level of success as his UK counterpart.
He is still fighting to defend his BBBofC title, which has some meaning in Britain and could lead to him getting a decent fanbase.
His next fight is against Jamie Arthur, but at this point, he might want to aim a little higher. After their fight in February, provided he wins, he just might step outside the UK to the wider world.
The young boxer from the Dominican Republic has fought in the United States, but it has always been on Spanish television such as Televisa.
Javier Fortuna was a talented amateur, but that isn't why he makes the list. He makes it because of his opposition.
In the last few years, Fortuna has faced a few game fighters, such as Derrick Wilson and another undefeated prospect in Victor Valenzuela.
His biggest step-up was in his last fight against Miguel Roman, who is a game veteran. He was able to knock his opponent down and then beat him by wide unanimous decision.
He just might start showing up on cable this year if he keeps beating those kinds of fighters.
Logan McGuinness hails from Canada, where he has boxed his way to the regional NABA title. Though the title doesn't mean as much as it once did, it is still a way to get known.
His last fight is what really makes him shine, considering he knocked out former world title challenger Benoit Gaudet. Gaudet is no joke, and being able to take him out means that McGuinness joins the likes of Humberto Soto.
McGuinness seems to be taking giant steps up in competition as of late, and with the regional title, there is a good chance he might even fight for the title at the end of next year.
If not, it will be sometime in 2013.
At 19-13-1, Fermin De Los Santos isn't a boxer who would appear on this list in most circumstances. He has lost almost half of his fights and has been competing since 2003.
He should be glossed over for younger, newer talent with a better record.
Except, Los Santos has won his last nine fights in a row. The competition hasn't always been stellar, but some of his opponents weren't bad either.
Every once in a while, boxing needs to take a look at an older veteran and realize that he might have something to offer it.
Los Santos could very well be that veteran in 2012.
Yet another European champion graces the article in the form of Russian boxer Denis Shafikov.
Shafikov recently took a step up in competition by beating Giuseppe Lauri for the title. He hasn't even made his first defense, but as long as he can hold the title for all of 2012, he should start making some noise.
He has had a draw in the past with Brunet Zamora, but time will tell if that was an off night or the limits of Shafikov's skills.
Until then, he just needs to keep training hard.
Carson Jones is an American who has been on TV before, but he seems to get swept under the rug every single time. It doesn't help that he has a less than glossy record.
Most of the losses have been at the beginning of his career, but in boxing, it is a stigma that stays with every fighter.
Jones has some knockouts, but he isn't known for power. However, many fighters get knockouts in early bouts when put in with soft competition and then stop getting them when they step up in competition.
Jones has stepped up recently against the likes of Michael Clark, Said Ouali and Ricardo Williams Jr. and knocked each of them out.
He might not have the best record or a high knockout ratio, but his last few fights have shown that he has grown.
Who knows what the future holds?
Gabriel Rosado has also been on TV a few times, but always as the opponent to the fighter who people come to see.
A few times, he has been able to pull the upset and win, but just as he starts to build momentum, he loses.
Still, Rosado comes off as the type of fighter who learns from losses. The ones he has have made him stronger, and at 26, he can still keep improving. He may not be a slugger, but his boxing gets him enough wins as is.
He has recently built up another decent run, and in two days, he has a fight with Jesus Soto Karass, a tough welterweight fighter known for exciting fights more than winning. A victory won't catapult him to title status, but it will help his career out.
And it will mean a bigger fight for him next.
One he might win.
Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez normally wouldn't make the cut, because his level of opposition seems to be lacking.
For someone who is only 20, that isn't too bad.
Sanchez might not have any recognizable names on his resume, but the records of his opponents seem solid. None of them seem like they were brought in to make him look strong.
He has also been knocking opponents out left and right.
It is too soon to see if he is the real deal, but by the end of the year, fans will have a better idea.
In a perfect world, George Groves wouldn't be on this list. He already beat James DeGale, who won an Olympic gold medal, and he has several wins over other top British fighters.
But this isn't a perfect world. DeGale is still the bigger name, and Groves is still going to have to work hard to get his name out there.
It may not be fair, but Groves will have to deal with it.
As long as he can keep beating opponents, he will.
At only 23, and with a penchant for KO'ing opponents, he has that time.
Most haven't even heard of Malawi, the country that Isaac Chilemba hails from. So, it stands that most haven't heard of Isaac Chilemba either.
Most of his career has taken place in Africa, but recently, he has made the move to fighting in America.
His opposition has been decent. This should be taken with a grain of salt, as the light heavyweight division is pretty bleak, but it still shows that Chilemba could be something.
He may look old in this photo, but he is only 24. He has done well so far, and if he keeps it up, he could end up introducing Malawi to a generation of boxing fans.
Mike Perez is a Cuban amateur who defected to Ireland, but unlike others before him, he has two things that stand out.
One is that he is relatively young at 26.
The second is that he has already boxed for three years, but moved at a slower pace.
That is, until last year, when he took part in the UK prizefighter tournament, where he went on to beat all of his opponents and win.
Since that fight, his career has stalled, with him fighting journeymen and former contenders, but he might take a step up in 2012.
If he does, he may just breathe new life into the heavyweight division.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the boxing, MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com which focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.