Two high-profile wins, one Super Six trophy, two title belts, and a claim to the legitimate championship of the world in one of boxing's most highly-regarded weight classes were enough to make Andre Ward the runaway winner for yet another Fighter of the Year award, as the Bad Left Hook voting panel has named the Oakland native and undefeated Super Six winner the 2011 Fighter of the Year.
Ward (25-0, 13 KO) received most of the first place votes, but even on ballots where he did not receive the nod for No. 1, he was named at No. 2 or No. 3. Everyone across the board had a high level of respect for what Ward did in 2011, and I think in part for what he's done over the course of the Super Six. In some ways, it's like when The Return of the King all but swept the Oscars; a lot of that had to do with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers as well.
Now that I've dorked this up sufficiently, here's the full voting:
|Juan Manuel Marquez||1||1||0||8|
|Suriyan Sor Rungvisai||0||0||1||1|
The 27-year-old Ward defeated Arthur Abraham on May 14, and Carl Froch on December 17 to close out the Super Six, win the world championship at 168 pounds, and pick up two belts to go along with the real standing as being the division's top dog.
In a distant second place was Nonito Donaire, who tore Fernando Montiel apart in just two rounds in February, and dominated but didn't electrify with an October win over Omar Narvaez. Brandon Rios came in in third place, and may have received further support had he not failed to make weight for his December win over John Murray.
Two emerging stars in the small divisions also received some top-end votes, as flyweight Hernan "Tyson" Marquez received a pair of first-place votes, and 105-pound titleholder Kazuto Ioka also took one. Also receiving top votes were Lamont Peterson and Juan Manuel Marquez.
My biggest question is what would have happened with the voting had Bernard Hopkins beaten Chad Dawson in October. His win over Jean Pascal in May created a lot of buzz, but that was killed with the two-round non-event against Dawson.
Congratulations to Andre Ward. It's been argued that it was a down year for Fighter of the Year voting, but personally I'm starting to think that's more perception than anything; we may not have had an easy vote like Manny Pacquiao (2008, 2009) or Sergio Martinez (2010), but a deeper look reveals a guy at the top of his game winning the award, and some really strong contenders who didn't happen to fight on the big networks, or if they did, didn't get all the hype and press and glitz and glamor.
All in all, we didn't have one major league standout who blew away the field, but we did have a lot of really good fighters who probably deserved greater attention than they received.
Voters for the 2011 Bad Left Hook Boxing Awards are Scott Christ, Andrew Fruman, Brickhaus, Matt Miller, James Foley, Sean Mills, Ryan Bivins, Waldo Rastel, Kory Kitchen, Matt Mosley, Oli Goldstein, Nick Foxx, Chris Celletti, Sidney Boquiren, and Corey Erdman.