This past Sunday, Oct. 13 I attended the 6th annual Briscoe Awards at Philadephia's VBA club. Dedicated to one of Philly's legendary middleweights Bennie Briscoe, the awards honor the city's best fighters and fights. The founder and primary organizer of the event is John DiSanto of PhillyBoxingHistory.com. John submitted a more comprehensive story on the day's pageantry on his website, so I encourage you to check that out. Basically all I'm going to do is list who won the awards and who I think will win next year, show you some art work, and report on unrelated news that I learned at the event. That news should probably get its own post, but, like, that'd take extra time and I don't feel like it...
Anyways, the reason I can predict who'll win next year is because the awards are presented for accolades in the previous year (2012) and the current year (2013) is nearing an end. I'll keep my predictions to the professional ranks as my amateur knowledge is nowhere near as extensive.
Also, you can watch the video atop this page as most of the information (and much more) is there as well.
The Everett Brothers Award, presented to Stephen Fulton Jr.
Eddie and Mike Everett present this award annually to local boxing talent acknowledging their accomplishments, dedication and character in memory of their late brother Tyrone Everett, once a very promising super featherweight contender. This year a skilled young amateur fighter nicknamed "Scooter" out of Shuler's Gym was the recipient of the award.
Amateur of the Year, presented to Rasheen Brown
Brown, another young fighter out of the James Shuler Memorial Boxing Gym, won his second straight National Silver Gloves Championship in 2012. The way he's progressing he could end up an Olympian as early as 2016 but would still be relatively young for the class of 2020, if he doesn't turn pro first.
Rookie of the Year, awarded to Jesse Hart
Midway through 2012 "Hard Work" Hart made his pro debut and won all 5 of his fights, 4 of which came by KO, and 3 of which were recapped by yours truly right here on BLH. I often write about Jesse and interview him. Hell, I even spar him. I don't think he hits as hard as his father did (1970s middleweight contender Eugene "Cyclone" Hart) but his technical skills and speed are a level above. We won't know if he can match his father's intangibles until he steps up in class, but if he can anyone from middleweight to light heavyweight needs to be concerned. And according to him, cruiserweights and heavyweights can eventually "get it" too.
Unfortunately Jesse was still out of town and couldn't accept his award in person, so his father accepted it for him while he submitted a pre-recorded video from Las Vegas alongside his promoter Bob Arum. In said video I learned about Jesse's next fight (which happens to be on a pretty interesting Atlantic City card that I plan to attend). Arum said Jesse will fight Dec. 7th against an opponent to be named. The fight will likely be streamed on TopRank.TV while the main events, headlined by Guillermo Rigondeaux-Joseph Agbeko and Glen Tapia-James Kirkland, will make HBO. Although Arum didn't mention it in the video, perhaps because it's a DiBella Entertainment fight, Matthew Macklin-Willie Nelson might round out a tripleheader, or that fight might happen on another date and venue altogether. Either way, the Dec. 7 Top Rank card is quality. The only problem is Golden Boy is putting on a quality Showtime card at the same time...
As for 2013's Rookie of the Year, I like the currently 4-0 Damon Allen Jr...
Prospect of the Year, presented to Bryant Jennings
By the end of 2012 Jennings had outgrown this award and graduated to a legitimate top contender, but that partially speaks to the current state of the heavyweight division. Giving the award to anyone else just wouldn't have made sense considering Bryant started the year out as an obscure fighter barely known outside of Philadelphia. But thanks to his willingness to headline an NBC Sports card on less than a week's notice in the aftermath of Eddie Chambers pulling out due to injury, things quickly changed for Jennings. Overall BY went 5-0 for the year, scored 3 KOs, won the USBA heavyweight title, defended it, and let everyone see him live on American television each time out. Subsequently he earned a #3 heavyweight rating from the IBF and might be on the verge of a world title shot.
Next year I expect Julian Williams to receive the award. Williams should have gone 4-0 in 2013 against 2 unbeaten prospects (one highly regarded), a former world champion, and a very durable guy that Julian was able to stop inside 3 rounds.
Knockout of the Year, presented to Garrett Wilson
I've sparred guys up to 150 pounds heavier than Garrett "The Ultimate Warrior" Wilson, but he's the only guy I've ever seriously worried about getting hit by. From personal experience let's just say it's no surprise to me he's won this award the past 2 years. In 2012 Garrett Wilson knocked Andres Taylor clean out with a left hook that was a worldwide KOTY candidate. It looked a little something like this:
If Wilson is going to 3-peat he'll have to get the job done in his next fight, set for Nov. 15th at World's Gym (11000 Roosevelt Blvd, Philadelphia, PA). He discussed that fight, his awards, and his career at large during an interview we did after the award ceremony, available here.
My front runner for the 2013 Briscoe KO award would be Anthony Ferrante, but unfortunately his 10th round KO over Isa Akberbayev was changed to a no contest after he failed a pre-fight drug test, which appears to be a total sham. Now I suppose Jesse Hart should be considered for it. Hart's 3rd round KO of Marlon Farr was particularly brutal. There also could be other great knockouts that I've just not seen or I'm blanking on. Personally I think Ferrante should get the award "dirty" or not. His suspension is only in New York after all. Their guilt was determined when the Eagles stomped the winless Giants last week. Do the right thing fast NY or you might not win a football game all year...
Performance of the Year, presented to Steve Cunningham
On Dec. 22nd, 2012 Steve "USS" Cunningham put on a masterful performance against Tomasz Adamek but was robbed blind by the judges. To this day I haven't met a single person in Philly that thinks Steve lost the fight. He completely took Adamek to school. It truly was a career defining performance that inspired the inception of this award. This now makes Cunningham a 3-time Briscoe award winner after previously winning Fighter of the Year in 2007 and 2010.
Assuming Gabriel Rosado falls short against Peter Quillin like he's expected to, his earlier fight against unbeaten middleweight prospect J'Leon Love might earn him the 2013 Performance of the Year. The decision was originally awarded to Love but few agreed with it. It was later changed to a no contest as Love tested positive for a banned diuretic.
Philly Fight of the Year - Bryant Jennings vs. Maurice Byarm
As touched upon earlier, this was the fight that made it all possible for Bryant Jennings to have a breakout 2012. It was thrown together on short notice but it delivered and Jennings narrowly emerged the victor. If you're wondering why Philly is in the title for the award, which you might consider redundant, it's because the fight has to take place in Philadelphia to qualify, a distinction not required for any of the other awards.
In any event, the other nominees for the award included Tevin Farmer vs. Tim Witherspoon Jr, Jason Sosa vs. Angel Ocasio II, and Eric Hunter vs. Jerry Belmontes. This award is a bit problematic for 2013 as most Philly venues were lost or unused, unless we count Chester and Essington as Philadelphia now. Might have to throw King of Prussia in the mix too...
Fighter of the Year, awarded to Danny Garcia
Although Bryant Jennings and Gabriel Rosado were very good runner-ups, Danny Garcia was the clear winner for FOTY, which he won the year before and is likely to win again for 2013. Garcia went 3-0 winning a his first world title against the legendary Erik Morales, unifying it in a big upset against Amir Khan, then defending all 3 titles (WBC, WBA, RING) in a rematch with Morales. While the first fight was a competitive decision, Garcia ended the remaining bouts with devastating knockouts. And while Garcia hasn't got any KOs in 2013, he still might 3-peat due to the quality of the fights and opponents (Zab Judah and Lucas Matthysse). On the other hand the award could also go to Bernard Hopkins or Gabriel Rosado depending on what happens Oct. 26th at Boardwalk Hall.
In other news Garcia wasn't actually available to accept the award as he was apparently attending a WBA Convention in Peru. Assistant trainer Jose Figueroa accepted the award on Danny's behalf.
And that was that as far as the awards went. The audience was then advised to enjoy the art gallery upstairs. Here's a recorded walk around the room that I did for you guys: