The Boxing Writers Association of America has voted, and their 2011 awards are set. Notably, Andre Ward is Fighter of the Year (no surprise), Pawel Wolak vs Delvin Rodriguez is Fight of the Year (no surprise), and Virgil Hunter was named Trainer of the Year (some surprise).
Let's go to Fighter of the Year and break this down a little bit. Not really to crap on anyone or make a big fuss, just for something to talk about.
BWAA release on Fighter of the Year:
Andre Ward has won an Olympic gold medal, professional world titles, and Showtime's Super Six super-middleweight tournament. Now the Boxing Writers Association of America has named Ward its Fighter of the Year for 2011. Ward will receive the BWAA's Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year trophy. Ward was chosen by an overwhelming margin over nominees Nonito Donaire, Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao.
I've got no problem with Andre Ward winning. The Bad Left Hook team also named Ward the 2011 Fighter of the Year in our site awards.
He's a deserving Fighter of the Year for 2011. I personally don't rate his win over Arthur Abraham all that much, but one also gets the feeling that it could have been someone a lot better than Abraham in there, and the result wouldn't have been much different. Ward pretty well dominated Carl Froch in December, which essentially put the bow on the package.
But I am interested, you could say, in this list of nominees. Ward and Donaire are deserving nominees. The other three? I guess so, if this is just a popularity contest.
What, exactly, did Pacquiao really do in 2011? He beat an old man in Shane Mosley, in a fight so bad that the Vegas crowd booed a Manny Pacquiao fight. For those who watched live but did not attend, it was merely another $60 fleecing of the boxing audience that still remains.
In November, Pacquiao won a good fight against a good opponent. However, whether right or wrong, Manny Pacquiao was a massive favorite going into the fight, and it was dismissed by many as a mismatch, milking the history of the fighters. We know now that it was a terrific matchup still, but it was without question a disappointing performance from Pacquiao, and the scoring was controversial, too. A lot of people felt he lost. Maybe a majority of people felt he lost.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
Well it's nice to know that if you're really famous, you can potentially win Fighter of the Year for fighting four whole rounds against a +400 to +500 underdog, and in doing so, put on a fight that pissed off half the people who paid $70 to see it. Right on.
Was involved in one of the worst fights of the year and one of the all-time great disappointments in championship-level boxing history with his 12-round flop against David Haye in July. That's all Wladimir did last year.
So what you have here is three famous guys who between them had four super-hyped fights, all of which were major letdowns except for Pacquiao vs Marquez, and that one had judging controversy with the wrong fighter, in the minds of too many for comfort, winning. That's the criteria for Fighter of the Year? Their promoters should be given Fighter of the Year nominations before they are.
What about Brandon Rios, Hernan "Tyson" Marquez, Lamont Peterson, Kazuto Ioka, Brian Viloria, Miguel Cotto, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai, Jorge Arce, or Sergio Martinez? Hell, there are a lot more guys that really deserved the award, or at least the nomination, over these three.
This is kind of like the Oscars nominating Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close for Best Picture, which is currently sitting with a lower critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes than Mark Wahlberg's latest mindless pile of crap.
Pacquiao, Mayweather and Klitschko are supposed to be in the running here, so they are. Just like the Tom Hanks + Sandra Bullock + possibly autistic kid + 9/11 movie is supposed to be an Oscar nominee, so it is. But in neither case is it deserved. It's a shame that more deserving fighters who went out and toiled in relative obscurity compared to these three aren't acknowledged for actually having great years, while these three are just great fighters who had fairly lousy years all things considered.
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Trainer of the Year is more debatable. Virgil Hunter does a fine job, but he's a one-fighter guy for the time being. If he's winning awards, why has Roger Mayweather never won a Trainer of the Year award?
Our award went to Robert Garcia, and I really believe that was the right choice for 2011. No offense to Virgil Hunter, who is a fine trainer and seems like a nicer person than Garcia and all that, but 2011 was Garcia's year in the training game. I guess the good news is they didn't sleepwalk through their votes and just name Freddie Roach again.