The Boxing Writers Association of America is pleased to announce that its Sugar Ray Robinson 2016 Fighter of the Year is Carl “The Jackal” Frampton, who made history by becoming the first Irish fighter in the long, prestigious 79-year history of the award.
Frampton enjoyed a stellar 2016 campaign in defeating a pair of previously unbeaten fighters, Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz, making national boxing history in the process by becoming the first fighter from North Ireland to win titles in two weight classes.
“I’m very honored by this,” Frampton said. “It was a great year, 2016. I started by beating long-time rival Scott Quigg at the start of the year. A lot was made of that fight. The fight maybe didn’t live up to expectations, but I showed my class in that fight and I think I won it pretty convincingly. The atmosphere is what I remember most. It was a night that I’ll never forget.
“Against Santa Cruz, I know I was a big underdog. It was my first fight at featherweight and no one really expected me to do much. A lot of people were just hopeful I would put on a good performance and would be enough and Leo would get the win. But I was confident that I was going to beat him. I thought I was the stronger fighter and I thought I would be better at featherweight than I was at 122. It was a great year, but to be the first Irishman to win this is huge. There are a lot of great fighters to come out of Ireland, so it means a lot.”
The defending IBF super bantamweight champ, Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) added the WBA super bantamweight strap breaking Quigg’s jaw and winning by a split-decision on Feb. 27 in Manchester, England. Frampton then followed that up with a majority decision over Santa Cruz for the WBA featherweight title on July 30, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“Winning the BWAA Fighter of the Year is like the Holy Grail for fighters,” said Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan, Frampton’s manager. “We won other awards this year, but this is the big one, which includes all of the boxing writers that know and follow the sport. For Carl to become the first Irish fighter to win this award is incredible. I keep saying Carl has the potential to be one of the best Irish fighters of all-time, so winning this creates a first.
“I’m really thrilled for Carl. This is magnificent news for Carl. I have three sons and Carl is like my fourth son. He’s effectively become the worldwide fighter of the year, beyond dispute, and that’s what I think has been so special about this. The BWAA comes from the writers, which is the greatest honor he can get. It’s the Holy Grail of boxing awards and we’re absolutely thrilled with it.”
The 29-year-old from Belfast, Northern Ireland, distinguished himself far beyond a very notable group of nominees that included WCB/WBO junior welterweight world champion and 2014 BWAA Fighter of the Year Terence Crawford, who easily beat Viktor Postol in 2016; pound-for-pound king and WBC junior bantam champ Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who beat previously-unbeaten Carlos Cuadras; WBO junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko, who stopped Roman Martinez and made Nicholas Walters quit; three-time BWAA Fighter of the Year and WBO welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, who scored easy wins over Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas; and the shocker or 2016, power-punching light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr., whose gigantic upsets over contender Andrzej Fonfara and future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins merited serious consideration.
“The boxing writers choosing me is like winning an Oscar as an actor,” Frampton said.
Frampton will be honored at the 92nd annual BWAA awards dinner on Thursday, March 16, at Capitale, on 130 Bowery, in New York, New York.
The next day, March 17th, is St. Patrick’s Day.
Other BWAA winners for the 2016 once again include WBC super featherweight champ Francisco Vargas in the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year. Vargas also made BWAA history by becoming the first fighter to be involved in the BWAA’s FOY consecutive times. Last year, Vargas shared the honors with Takashi Miura. This year, Vargas shares the honor with fellow Mexican Orlando Salido for their thrilling majority draw (yes, the fight was so action-packed it made a draw exciting) on June 4 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Nominees for FOY also included the featherweight battle Frampton-Santa Cruz; Gonzalez-Cuadras; the first fight between junior middleweights Jesus Soto Karass and Yoshihiro Kamegai; the welterweight clash between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter; and the British heavyweight tilt between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora.
Shane McGuigan, the son of Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan and Frampton’s trainer, will have some something to celebrate with his fighter as the BWAA’s Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year winner. The nominees there were Abel Sanchez, Manuel Robles, the late Arnulfo Obando, Virgil Hunter and Jerry Capobianco.
Egis Klimas, the manager of Sergey Kovalev and Lomachenko, is a first-time winner of the Cus D'Amato Manager of the Year award, which also included fellow nominees Cameron Dunkin, Frank Espinoza, Barry McGuigan and Phil Capobianco.
Showtime’s highly respected Gordon Hall, executive producer of the network’s critically acclaimed prospect series “ShoBox: The New Generation,” is the winner of the Sam Taub broadcast award. The nominees included longtime HBO executive and “Boxing After Dark” creator Lou DiBella; HBO veteran analyst Roy Jones Jr.; and England's Jim Watt, the retired Sky Sports longtime analyst.
Hall has an imprint on virtually every aspect of programming and production on Showtime Sports. The Senior Vice President of Production, Hall has been with Showtime for 27 years. He began his career in television as a page for NBC. Hall is perhaps best known for his outstanding work as the executive producer of the highly acclaimed “ShoBox” series, which in 16 years has featured 67 future world champions. He is universally recognized as a TV executive of exceptional character and dignity.
Boxing publicists, much like sports writers, are links in a chain that serve to make fighters more accessible to the fans. They perform a valuable, if sometimes unnoticed and underappreciated, function. But sometimes the spotlight finds them anyway.
Three of the best and longest-tenured members of the club—Lee Samuels, Bill Caplan and John Beyrooty—are BWAA winners.
Samuels, the former Philadelphia-area sports writer who is best known for his decades of service with Top Rank, is the 16th recipient of the Bill Crawford Award for Courage in Overcoming Adversity; Caplan, who has worked for virtually every big-time promoter over the past 40-plus years, will receive the Barney Nagler Award for Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing, while the well-liked Beyrooty will take home the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award.
Previously honored by the BWAA as the co-recipient (with Top Rank colleague Ricardo Jimenez) of the Marvin Kohn Award in 2006, Samuels and his wife, Mary, were devastated when their son, Eddie, died of heart failure last Aug. 16. A former standout hockey player, Eddie had been suffering from excruciating headaches before being diagnosed with the previously undetected heart condition. Engaged to be married to his girlfriend, Lelani, he went to sleep one night and never woke up.
“The devastation to parents is unbelievable,” said Samuels, who somehow found the strength to go back to work and do the job he always has done so well.
“Lee is incredibly dedicated to what he does,” Top Rank founder Bob Arum said of Samuels some years ago. “It’s more than a job; it’s his life.”
Samuels has been able to draw some comfort from the knowledge that Eddie lived a full and happy life, and from what might be interpreted as a celestial omen. Shortly after Eddie’s death, his sister, Mary Cate, was sitting in her car when she spotted a golden butterfly fluttering around the windshield.
“That’s a symbol the soul is at peace,” Lee said.
Other finalists for the Crawford Award were the Magomed Abdusalamov family, Claressa Shields, Mauro Ranallo and Kathy Duva.
A native Iowan, Caplan headed to Los Angeles with his wife Sandy a half-century ago with no job or inkling what would come next. But his brother-in-law, Larry Rummans, was a familiar figure in local boxing, and he wangled Bill a job as the PR guy for the great Joe Louis, who then was staging fight cards in Hollywood. Since then, Caplan has worked for such notables as Aileen Eaton, George Parnassus, Don Chargin, Don King and Bob Arum. He also is one of George Foreman’s closest and dearest friends.
Other finalists for the Barney Nagler Award were Dr. Margaret Goodman, Bob Canobbio, Bill Dwyre and Gareth Davies.
Beyrooty’s path to the Marvin Kohn Award involved a lot of twists and turns. The first fight he ever saw live and in person he covered as the boxing writer for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1979. When the paper folded a decade later, he became PR director for Forum Boxing for eight years, then a sports writer for the Long Beach Press Telegam for 1½ years.
Since 1999, Beyrooty – who hung the “Golden Boy” nickname on Oscar De La Hoya – has handled boxing publicity for Brener-Zwikel..
Timothy Bradley, Norm Frauenheim, Ray Stallone and Andy Olson were the other finalists for the
The BWAA is also proud to announce that it will be honoring Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum for 50 years of service to boxing. Arum is responsible for promoting Muhammad Ali, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, and who brought the world super fights like Marvin Hagler-Tommy Hearns,