RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who fought through a broken left hand to a unanimous decision victory over Carl Froch for the Showtime’s Super Six Championship Cup in December, has been named Fighter of The Year for 2011 and the recipient of the Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy from the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.
“I want to thank God for giving me the strength to put in the work year after year to get to this point. I also want to thank my manager, James Prince, my promoters Antonio Leonard and Dan Goossen, everyone who is a part of Team Ward, including all of my family, friends, and loyal fans who have been behind me all these years,” said Ward (25-0, 13 knockouts).
“This award is just as much for them as it is for me. Even in the midst of receiving this tremendous award, Team Ward is not going to let up. In 2012 and beyond we’re going to push forward, and God-willing we can be considered for these awards every year. Its easy to get comfortable at a time like this, but I can assure everybody that I’m going to continue to put in the work to be the best that I can be. I’m going to stay humble, keep God first, and with that: the best is yet to come.”
Ward’s corner man, Virgil Hunter, was named to receive the Eddie Futch Award for Trainer of The Year from the BWAA.
“It’s a humbling exprerience and I’m both grateful and thankful to be thought of in such a way. This is great for the entire coaching fraternity, because we all work hard, and to be thought of as worthy of this, I just want to thank everyone who considered me,” said Hunter.
Hunter also coached Ward to an Olympic gold medal in 2004.
“I’m very happy for my trainer and Godfather, Virgil, for winning this prestigious award,” said Ward, whose year included May’s one-sided unanimous decision over former middleweight beltholder Arthur Abraham.
“I’m probably more excited for him than I am for myself. I’ve always wanted him to win this award because he is one of the hardest working trainers in the game.”
Much the same can be said of Hunter, who became a father-figure in the wake of the death of Ward’s father not long before the Olympics.
“Andre’s honor makes this even sweeter for me, because we started out together from Day One, and we won a gold medal together. And then to come back on the professional level and to achieve this is just something that makes you reflect on the hard work and reminds you of all of the time that you put in and of the perseverance that it took against all of the obstacles that were there to overcome,” said Hunter.
“So to get to this point makes it all worthwhile, but this is just the beginning. We intend to continue to do what we’ve been doing. It’s not to say that we hope to win the award every year, but we’re going to continue with the same drive that it took for this to come about and to be the best that we could be.”
HUNTER: IN PRAISE AND RECOGNITION OF OTHERS IN THE COACHING FRATERNITY
Hunter shed light on other trainers he thinks are worthy of recognition, including Kevin Cunningham, Barry Hunter, Naazim Richardson, Tony Morgan, Leon Lawson Sr. and Don Livingston Sr.
“There are numerous more that I can name, but those are the ones who come to mind first and foremost. I just wanted to include them and to say thanks to that 2004 fraternity of coaches from the amateurs. They’re the ones with whom we shared the hotel rooms and things when all of the kids were young,” said Hunter.
“This was even when they were 10, 11 years old and talking about the days that are here now. Without them and without their input and without us bonding in a manner as men who have the kids in mind first and foremost and not our personal gain, this would not have come about for me. So this particular award for me is actually for all of us.”
PAWEL WOLAK-DELVIN RODRIGUEZ I NAMED FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Rodriguez hammered away at the right eye of Wolak, even as the area around it swelled to the size of ripe grape fruit. Wolak fought the entire second half of the fight while peering through severely cut and swollen eyes, the right side of his face marred by the large hematoma.
Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KOs) easily won their December rematch by unanimous decision, after which Wolak annouced his retirement at the age of ?? with a record of 29-2-1 and 19 knockouts.
DEWEY BOZELLA EARNS BILL CRAWFORD AWARD FOR OVERCOMING ADVERSITY
Dewey Bozella, who was released from prison in 2009 after serving 26 years of a wrongful conviction, won his pro boxing debut by beating Larry Hopkins by unanimous decision in a cruiserweight bout in October at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 52-year-old Bozella, who received a call of support from President Barack Obama two days prior to the bout, passed a physical administered by the California State Athletic Commission in September which allowed him to face the 30-year-old Hopkins (0-4) of Houston.
The victory satisfied Bozella’s dream of fighting as a professional boxer on the undercard of the light heavyweight bout between RING and WBC titleholder Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson on HBO Pay Per View.
Bozella has been named recipient of the BWAA’s Courage in Overcoming Adversity Award, named after Congressional Medal of Honor winner Bill Crawford.
During his post-fight, in-the-ring interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, Bozella was asked what his next fight would be.
“My next fight is to work with kids. The Dewey Bozella Foundation. That’s what I’m trying to get started,” said Bozella. “To work with kids and to keep them off of the streets and to let them know that through boxing, they can turn their lives around. That’s what this was all about.”
And then, Bozella took the microphone from Kellerman and addressed the crowd.
“You know something? I would like to say that dreams do happen if you never give up hope,” said Bozella, to loud cheers. “Always believe in yourself. Don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t do.”
NOTES: Other awards were bestowed upon Showtime announcer Al Bernstein and and Don Elbaum as the winners of the Marvin Kohn “Good Guy” award and the winner of the John F.X. Condon award for Long and Meritorious Service to the sport, respectively.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com