my head says robert garcia deserves to be trainer of the year. his fighters had a pretty great year. from taking on veterans like margarito and soon pavlik to building up younger guys like rios and mikey garcia, not to mention nonito donaire, what he has done to build up his gym in oxnard is remarkable.
however, my heart says that what ann wolfe has done with one fighter is more remarkable. because of her, kirkland went from being in, arguably, the upset of the year fight to becoming the comeback fighter of the year.
garcia is a great trainer. but he is beginning to develop a history of irresponsibly putting his fighters in danger. in a recent badlefthook poll after cotto margarito ii, 67% of respondents voted that the fight was not stopped too early. of those 67%, how many of you feel that after the ring doctor announced that it was unsafe for margarito to continue that garcia was wrong in pleading for the fight to be allowed to go on? arguably, one of the reasons margarito lost to cotto was because of garcia's decision to not stop his previous fight against pacquiao long after margarito had a chance of winning, which resulted in a broken orbital bone and a year of recovery and special attention being paid to that eye by cotto and the new york state athletic commission and ringside doctor.
another recent example of garcia putting his fighter in danger was brandon rios' fight with john murray. rios didn't make weight and looked awful for the weigh in. rumors circulated that he hadn't eaten in days and had very little water in the days leading up to the fight. whatever is true, we do know that rios had to overcome his poor conditioning to win his fight. he won in spite of his conditioning which put him in danger not just to win the fight, but to avoid serious injury.
alternately, i think a big reason that kirkland was able to overcome the adversity of angulo's initial onslaught is because of his conditioning. he was able to get off the canvas and continue the rest of the fight with a high workrate precisely because of the great condition that ann wolfe had him in.
now i know that ann wolfe shouldn't win trainer of the year based on one fighter and one fight. i just wanted to give a shout out to what ann wolfe has accomplished with james kirkland, inside and outside of the ring.
fighting is a dangerous sport. and one of the biggest responsibilities of a trainer is to protect your fighter, sometimes from himself...