The year that was in 2017 saw boxing bounce back in a big way, but left just amount of unfinished business to where many of the award categories lack a clear-cut favorite.
As much is reflected in the final list of nominees gracing nine separate categories for the 93rd annual Boxing Writers Association (BWAA) Awards, which was released on Monday by the organization.
Terence Crawford is in the running for a second win in the prestigious Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year award. The unbeaten two-division world champion—who took top honors in 2014—saw his career soar to new heights in 2017, becoming just the third male boxer in history to simultaneously hold all four major belts (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO) following a dominant 3rd round knockout of Julius Indongo this past August in Lincoln, Nebraska. The win came just three months after making his debut in the main room of Madison Square Garden, where he dominated 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Felix Diaz en route to a 10th round stoppage.
While he has torn through competition ever since entering the championship picture in 2014, the fighting pride of Omaha, Nebraska faces stiff competition from a field of first-time nominees (in alphabetical order):
- Mikey Garcia, who scored a highlight-reel knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin for a lightweight title in becoming a three-division champion this past January and then followed up with a one-sided points win over former four-division titlist Adrien Broner in July;
- Anthony Joshua, the unbeaten 2012 Olympic Gold medalist who amassed more than 150,000 fans for his pair of heavyweight title defenses, though none bigger than his off-the-canvas 11th round knockout of former long-reigning heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko in April;
- Vasily Lomachenko, the lone elite boxer of 2017 to fight—and win—three times on the year, scoring one-sided stoppage wins over Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and previously unbeaten 122-pound king Guillermo Rigondeaux;
- Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who landed a major upset—albeit in controversial fashion—with a 12-round points win over then-unbeaten pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez in March. The hard-hitting super flyweight titlist from Thailand proved the feat was no fluke, dominating the former four-division champ in a 4th round knockout in their September rematch.
Crawford's trainer and co-manager Brian "Bomac" McIntyre, was among the five brilliant cornermen named for Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year. Joining him are: Derrick James (Errol Spence, Jermell Charlo); Anatoly Lomachenko (Vasily Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk); Andre Rozier (Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Derevyanchenko, Sadam Ali, Ivan Golub, et al) and Abel Sanchez (Gennady Golovkin, Murat Gassiev, Sullivan Barrera, et al).
For the first time ever, the BWAA will honor the top female boxer in the sport in adding the Christy Martin Female Fighter of the Year. The category—considered long overdue by several members—comes on the heels of a year where female boxing has finally advanced beyond a novelty act among U.S. network brass, with premium cable outlet Showtime leading the charge in showcasing two-time Olympic Gold medalist Claressa Shields, five-division titlist Amanda Serrano and Heather Hardy over the course of the year.
Shields and Serrano are among the seven finalists for the first year award. The rest of the field: Cecilia Braekhus—who along with Crawford make for the sport's lone two undisputed world champions; Jessica Chavez, Naoko Fujioka, Mariana Juarez, and Katie Taylor.
The remaining awards and nominees are as follows:
Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier Fight of the Year Finalists—David Benavidez-Ronald Gavril; James DeGale-Badou Jack; Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko; Miguel Roman-Orlando Salido; Srisaket Sor Rungvisai-Roman Gonzalez I
Cus D’Amato Manager of the Year Finalists—Keith Connolly; Frank Espinoza; Egis Klimas; No award
Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award Finalists—Matt Donovan ; Ed Keenan; Wladimir Klitschko; Jose Ramirez; Bruce Silverglade; Tim Smith
Sam Taub Broadcasting Finalists—Brian Custer; Lou DiBella; Steve Espinoza; Roy Jones; Mauro Ranallo
Barney Nagler Long & Meritorious Award Finalists—Gina Andriolo (longtime BWAA Events coordinator); Bob Canobbio (Compubox founder); Dr. Margaret Goodman (founder of Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency); Randy Gordon (previously served as RING Magainze Editor-In-Chief and head of New York State Athletic Commission); John Sheppard (BoxRec.com founder)
Bill Crawford Courage Award Finalists—Kathy Duva; Daniel Franco; Jose Santa Cruz; Claressa Shields; Samuel Teah.