Dmitry Bivol Leads BWAA 2022 Awards As Fighter Of Year
(The 2022 Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) awards are out and our Dan Rafael gives us the lowdown on the top categories including Dmitry Bivol, Leigh Wood and others being honored. This item originally appeared on Dan’s substack.)
Dmitry Bivol won the Sugar Ray Robinson fighter of the year award for 2022 in balloting results announced on Monday by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
It was one of eight annual awards announced by the organization and Bivol’s honor came as little surprise after his standout year.
Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), 32, of Russia, scored a clear upset decision over then-pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez to retain the WBA light heavyweight title in May and then routed former super middleweight titleholder and unbeaten top contender Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in November. He is the first Russian boxer to win in the 84-year history of the award.
“This is a great honor,” Bivol said. “I’m so happy. I’m glad to hear about the history. I used to look up who the previous award winners were when I was a kid, and now I’m one of them. I make my mark in the history of boxing forever. I’m very proud, and very proud of my team, too. I have the best team in boxing, my manager (Vadim Kornilov) and my trainer (Gennadiy Mashyanov).
“I didn’t expect this, but after I beat Ramirez, I thought I had a great year. I believed in my skills and worked hard. I can put a line under this year knowing I did a good job. Thanks to my team and the people who have supported me.”
Bivol won in a deep category that also included five other nominees: undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney; WBA junior lightweight titlist Hector Luis Garcia, undisputed bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue; Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, who won the WBC junior bantamweight title and defended it twice before vacating to move down in weight; and unified junior flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji.
The Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier fight of the year award went to Leigh Wood’s WBA “regular” title-retaining comeback 12th-round knockout of mandatory challenger Michael Conlan on March 12 at Motorpoint Arena in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham, England.
It was a thrilling fight all the way. Wood was trailing on all three scorecards, had been knocked down in the first round and his face was bruised and cut, but he never stopped swinging until the miracle rally was complete as he pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in recent boxing history. Wood, who dropped Conlan in the 11th round, didn’t just storm back for a 12th-round knockout. He did it by literally knocking Conlan out of the ring for the victory to conclude a memorable battle.
The other nominees were: Jermell Charlo KO10 Brian Castano II (undisputed junior middleweight title); Sebastian Fundora KO9 Erickson Lubin (WBC interim junior middleweight title); Joe Joyce KO11 Joe Parker (WBO interim heavyweight title); Sivenathi Nontshinga W12 Hector Flores (vacant IBF junior flyweight title); and Jai Opetaia W12 Mairis Briedis (IBF cruiserweight title).
The rest of the awards:
Derrick James won the Eddie Futch trainer of the year award for his work guiding Charlo to the undisputed junior middleweight championship and Errol Spence Jr. to unifying three welterweight titles, making James the only current trainer with two unified titleholders. He also led lightweight up-and-comer Frank Martin to a 3-0 year, including a significant win over Michel Rivera in a title eliminator. He beat other nominees Mashyanov, Bill Haney, Bob Santos and Colin Nathan.
Peter Kahn won the Cus D’Amato manager of the year award, having represented fighters such as former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr., undisputed women’s super middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn, blue-chip junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas and lightweight Emmanuel Tagoe. The other nominees were Luis DeCubas Jr., Haney, Kornilov and Brian Peters.
David Dinkins Jr., the longtime executive producer of Showtime Sports, won the Sam Taub award for excellence in broadcast journalism. He outpaced nominees Jim Gray, Dave Harmon, Mauro Ranallo and James “Smitty” Smith.
The Barney Nagler award for long and meritorious service went to Ed Brophy, the executive director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The other nominees were historian John DiSanto; Gordon Hall, the Showtime Sports senior vice president and “ShoBox” executive producer; historian and amateur tournament organizer Henry Hascup; and John Sheppard, the founder of Boxrec.
Lee Groves, the boxing historian, CompuBox statistician and longtime journalist, was honored with the Marvin Kohn Good Guy award from a group of nominees that also included publicists Sam Jackson and Andrew Roberts in a joint entry, former unified junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez, former featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. and trainer John Scully.
Unified heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk and former three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, best friends, were jointly awarded the John McCain-Bill Crawford courage award and follow their Ukrainian countrymen and former heavyweight champion Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, the 2021 winners. Usyk and Lomachenko exemplify the strength and will of the Ukrainian people, dedicating themselves, at risk of their lives, to aid the relief efforts of Ukraine since the Russian invasion last February. The other nominees were Prichard Colon, Billy Dib, Bernard Fernandez and Jose Santa Cruz Sr.
The award winners, voted on by full members of the BWAA, will be honored at the organization’s annual awards dinner, which will take place in the spring. The 2021 winners will also be honored at the dinner since there was no dinner due to Covid-related reasons.