2015 Boxing Awards Pu Pu Platter, Part I

So very sorry to be so slow with our service of the conclusion of the 2015 boxing awards. Your waiter humbly apologies. We’re bringing out two enormous platters to conclude them.

In the first installment, the flavor is heavy and serious. In the second one, that flavor will be light and fluffy. Just add “award” at the end of every category below and devour ’em all. Feel free to send them back to the waiter if you’d prefer something else. Also, please add in some of your own dishes.

And don’t forget to consume all the major category nominees and winners from the past weeks’ awards blog entries, if you haven’t yet.

Trainer. Abel Sanchez has been the popular pick for his work with Gennady Golovkin. But like any of this year’s candidates, he mainly has only one notable fighter. Was there anything about Sanchez’s work that stood out this year, when several other Fighter of the Year contenders also had Trainer of the Year contenders who were basically a one-pony show? I’d argue that among those, the standout is Tyson Fury, whose uncle, Peter, trains him. Fury has been getting better and better, and this year took out Wladimir Klitschko to become the heavyweight champion. Fury had a great game plan for Klitschko in particular. Peter’s the pick.

Prospect. As usual, this category depends on preference. Do you go with the green prospect who looks like he could become special? Or the seasoned prospect who has moved to the verge of contender? I favor the latter. That means Errol Spence, Jr. is the obvious choice. He looks like the future of the welterweight division, and spent 2015 steamrolling gatekeeper-types.

Manager. Ugh. There is really no standout candidate here. Check out the Boxing Writers Association of America nominees: Egis Klimas, last year’s obvious winner, did nothing much with most of his big names. Cameron Dunkin did… OK with Terence Crawford, and little else. Regular contender Al Haymon had a terribly mixed year. Monica Bradley really only manages her husband. “No award” is viable, given the circumstances. But we tend to pick a winner around here. Let’s go with Bradley, who steered Timothy into a new trainer who has revitalized him.

Upset. Now, here, there are a lot of good candidates. For the purely unexpected, Krzysztof Glowacki knocking over Marco Huck would take the cake. But there’s a better choice. Fury was a highly-ranked heavyweight, and perhaps we should’ve seen his win over Klitschko coming given that Klitschko had been looking increasingly shaky. But that’s hindsight. At the time, nobody was really picking Fury to win, and that was a massive victory.

Comeback Fighter. Last year, Badou Jack’s career was in shambles after a first round knockout loss to Derek Edwards. In 2015, he beat two top-10 contenders: Anthony Dirrell and George Groves. That’s a good comeback.

Comeback Within A Fight. In the 2015 Fight of the Year, Francisco Vargas was on the verge of being stopped by Takashi Miura in the 8th round, his knees shaky and his eye rapidly closing. In the very next round, Vargas stopped Miura. That’s a good comeback, too.

Robbery. Not to take away from the competitive performance of Jason Sosa, but he did NOT deserve a draw against Nicholas Walters. He won two rounds, tops. BoxingScene had an honorable mention for a fight of lesser importance, but we tend to pick higher-profile ones here. The good news in all this is that there were few really horrendous robberies this year. Lots of bad decisions, as usual, but not as many “oh my God what were they watching” outcomes. And at least Walters didn’t get an undeserved loss.

Worst Scorecard. …of course, that wouldn’t be true if Tom Schreck had his way. Dude scored it a win for Sosa. No.

Worst Refereeing. Anytime somebody ends up in a coma, you have to look closely at how it happened. And Prichard Colon wouldn’t be in a coma if referee Joe Cooper had taken greater control of the fight with Terrel Williams. Colon complained of rabbit punches in the very opening round. Cooper didn’t say anything about it until the 6th. He penalized him in the 7th for the most flagrant rabbit punch of the whole fight, because he had to. Everything that landed over the next several rounds, he ignored.

Worst Fight. Do not watch Guillermo Rigondeaux-Drian Francisco, ever, if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s like the movie “The Ring.” Bad, bad things will happen to you.

Best Performance. There’s good Brian Viloria and bad Brian Viloria. Bad Brian Viloria might lose to just about anybody. Good Brian Viloria basically can’t lose. That’s unless he runs into Roman Gonzalez, the best fighter in the sport. Viloria came in motivated against the flyweight king, and for several rounds, he made things competitive. Then Gonzalez took over and made Viloria look like just another opponent, rather than the world class fighter he is. Baller.

Best Losing Effort. Miura was on the wrong side of the Fight of the Year, and on the wrong side of the Comeback Within a Fight of the Year. But goddam if he didn’t show us all something against Vargas. Even when he was stopped, he remained on his feet, trying to fight back. If you don’t admire that kind of toughness, you probably don’t admire much of anything.

Promoter. This is another “only because somebody has to win it.” Let’s go with Golden Boy. Yeah, the company walked some of its fighters into some bad match-ups — Viktor Postol-Lucas Matthysse comes to mind — but it also was brave with its team and it made good fights. Plus, they still have Canelo Alvarez, who might be the biggest star in the sport pretty soon, and he’s coming off the biggest win of his career.

Network. By default, it has to be HBO. Showtime is a sadly marginalized partner in the whole PBC family, and the PBC product is spread over so many networks that no one could stand out under any circumstances. That’s not to say HBO didn’t do some good things in 2015 — check out “best trend” for a couple fights it was affiliated with, for starters — but it also took some of the stars it has been building up (Sergey Kovalev, Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko) and gave them bad or so-so years.

Best Trend. If you made a list of fights in 2014 that were on the “must happen” agenda for 2015, the top two would be Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez vs Miguel Cotto. While both fights were probably a touch overripe by the time they happened, they did. That’s a welcome development in a sport where the most desirable fights happen haphazardly if at all.

Worst Trend. Neither fight was very good, and we still got too few of the ones we wanted. There was no Sergey Kovalev vs Adonis Stevenson, no Gennady Golovkin vs Andre Ward, no Roman Gonzalez vs Juan Francisco Estrada II.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.