FrontProof end of year boxing awards
December 31, 2016
For true boxing fans, 2016 definitely had some great moments, great match-ups and some of the most vicious knockouts the sport has ever seen. Some unknown trainers have emerged to produce champions, and some rising stars have shined bright. The Frontproof Media team has taken time to review the 2016 boxing year and would like to recognize a few special people.
Fighter of the Year: Terence Crawford
The choice of Terence Crawford as “Fighter of the Year” was a difficult one as 2016 had no one clear run-away winner. Many fighters were taken into consideration, but it was Crawford who truly made his opponents look remedial. Crawford started the year with a bang as he dismantled “Hammering” Hank Lundy in five rounds. Then in July, Crawford stepped in the ring against the WBC Super Lightweight champion Viktor “Iceman” Postol. It was the best fighting the best in a title unification bout and Crawford put on a boxing clinic as he displayed brilliant boxing skills, speed and power as he won the fight with ease, as Judges Guido Cavalleri and Don Trella scored it 118-107, and Dave Moretti 117-108 all in favor of Crawford. Then in December, Crawford put on an exhibition in his home town of Omaha, Nebraska against the always tough John Molina. The fight was stopped in the eighth round after Crawford landed 31 punches, including a devastating jab to the stomach, sending Molina into the corner. Crawford continued to land bombs on Molina, prompting the referee to step in at the 2:32 mark of the round giving Crawford the 21st knockout of his professional career. In 2016, Crawford has demonstrated that he is indeed a top pound for pound fighter and is the absolute best at super lightweight and can be a champion at welterweight. His three victories this year including his title unification bout came with ease, so for that reason Terence Crawford is the Frontproof Media Fighter of the Year.
Fight of the Year: Francisco Vargas vs Orlando Salido
It was a sad Saturday afternoon at the Stubhub Center in Carson, California and fight fans across the world were in morning, as less than 24 hours earlier the death of Muhammad Ali hit the boxing world like a knockout blow. Orlando “Siri” Salido entered the ring wearing an Ali T-shirt, paying tribute to the great champion. Then Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas started his ring walk. Vargas, who is no stranger to wars and was involved in the 2015 Fight of the Year with Takashi Miura, entered the ring putting his WBC Super Featherweight Title on the line against Salido. Mexican music blared and slowly the somberness inside of the mythical Stubhub Center turned into electricity. The opening bell rang and this bout turned into a war. Fight fans stood and cheered and the crowd even distracted referee Raul Caiz as he mistook the 10 second clap for the bell. As HBO's Jim Lampley stated on the televised broadcast, the “orientation period was over.” Vargas and Salido went back and forth for several rounds and in the sixth round, Salido, who is prone to being floored, was caught with a solid overhand right sending him into the ropes allowing Vargas to take control of the round. Vargas went in for the KO, but Salido countered Vargas with a big shot of his own spinning off the ropes taking the fight to Vargas for the remainder of the sixth . The violence continued through all 12 rounds with each fighter landing huge shots on each other as both Vargas and Salido would seem to find a second gear throughout the championship rounds. When the final bell rang, both fighters were bruised an bloodied, the crowd was on it's feet and the judges called the fight a draw. Although several fights including Thurman vs Porter and Santa Cruz vs Frampton brought fans great action, none of those fight could match the brutality and viciousness of Vargas vs Salido. For that, Vargas vs Salido is Frontproof Media's Fight of The Year.
Knockout of the Year: Deontay Wilder vs Artur Szpilka
In his third title defense of his WBC Heavyweight Title, Deontay Wilder was in a tough fight against Artur Szpilka in Brooklyn, New York. Szpilka had made it through eight rounds and had proved to boxing fans, including Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson who were in attendance, that he belonged in the ring with the champ. Then in the 9th Wilder caught Szpilka with a huge overhand right that turned his lights out. Szpilka was flat on his back for several minutes after being knocked out and referee Mike Griffin quickly called for medical personnel, which came into the ring immediately. Szpilka eventually came to but was taken out of the ring on a backboard, put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital as a precaution. After the knockout Wilder stated “I always say two prayers; I say a team prayer, and I say an individual prayer. I don't want to hurt a man so he can't go home to his family. We risk our lives every time we step in the ring. He's definitely in my prayers, and I hope he's doing well.” Wilder's knockout of Szpilka is Frontproof Media's KO of the year.
Prospect of the year: “Swift” Jarrett Hurd
Coming into 2016, “Swift” Jarrett Hurd was an undefeated club fighter. He then got the call to fight on Shobox against undefeated (17-0, 11 KO's) Frank Galarza. Galarza, who was a regular on the Shobox series, was the known name in the ring and even had Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon in attendance to support him. “Swift” didn't care, from the first seconds of first round through the stoppage in round sixth, Hurd had his way with Galarza using his reach and precise punching to hurt Galarza in every round of the fight. Then in Brooklyn, New York, Hurd again had a chance to show his skills on national television as his fight with undefeated Oscar Molina was moved up to the co-main event on the Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter card. Hurd dropped Molina in the first and controlled the entire fight forcing a stoppage in the tenth round. It was another very impressive victory for “Swift.” Then in November on the Spike TV undercard to Danny Garcia vs. Samuel Vargas, Hurd picked apart JoJo Dan using his size, power, and speed, en route to a sixth round TKO. Jarrett Hurd is definitely on the cusp of being a force to be reckoned with in the 154lb division and fans should look for him in a championship fight by the end of 2017. "Swift" Hurd is Frontproof Media's Prospect of the Year.
Manager of the year: Manny Robles
For fans not familiar with Manny Robles, he is a huge part of the Southern California fight scene. Robles, who runs The Rock Boxing Gym in Carson, California, took Oscar Valdez (who Robles is training with in the video above) and Jessie Magdelano to world titles as well as developing a solid boxing camp. A camp that this year will get Irish Olympian Michael Conlan and Mexican Olympian Joselito Vasquez. Other fighters under the tutelage of Robles include undefeated prospects Jason Quigley, US Olympian Terrell Gausha, Oscar Negrete, Roberto Arriza as well as Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Dominic Breazeale. The Rock and Robles continue to put out champions and fans should look forward to seeing may of the top prospects in big bouts in 2017. For this, Robles is Frontproof Media's Manager of the year.