Birmingham Takes Trainer Of The Year Honors
BWAA Press release: Light heavyweight champion of the world Glen Johnson has been elected to receive the coveted Edward Neil Award as the Boxing Writers Association of America's 2004 Fighter of the Year. He didn't exactly come out of nowhere to win the award. A native of Jamaica who now lives and fights out of Miami, "The Road Warrior" got his nixckname by taking bouts on
short notice and on the other guy's home turf. Johnson has been a pro since 1993 but 2004 was a year like no other for the 35-year-old veteran who won his first 32 fights before losing, on an eleventh-round stoppage to IBF middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. Johnson and other BWAA winners will be recognized at the 80th annual BWAA Awards Dinner May 6 at the Mandalay
Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Other BWAA honors go to Dan Birmingham (Futch-Condon Award as Trainer of the Year), the self-managed Bernard Hopkins (Al Buck Award as Manager of the Year), ESPN2 studio host Brian Kenny (Sam Taub Award as Broadcaster of the Year), publicist Fred Sternburg (Marvin Kohn "Good Guy" Award) and Nevada
State Athletic Commission executive director Marc Ratner (James J. Walker Award for long and meritorious service to boxing).
Glen Johnson's loss to Hopkins began an up-and-down phase of his career, which included several dubious points losses. But Johnson dealt with the occasional disappointments and kept on keeping on, confident he would eventually catch his big break. Barely a blip on the worldwide boxing radar screen when 2004 began, Johnson won the vacant IBF light heavyweight title by scoring a unanimous decision over England's Clinton Woods in Sheffield, England, on February 6. He followed up with a stunning, ninth-round knochout of Roy Jones Jr. in Memphis on Sept. 25, and ended the year on the high note of a scintillating split decision victory over Antonio Tarver in Los Angeles on Dec. 18th.
Johnson might have had the best year, but BWAA members voted the rubbermatch between Mexican thrill merchants Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales the Harry Markson Award for Fight of the Year. Barrera took split decision, but the incredible, two-way action between the junior lightweights had fans hoping there would be a fourth chapter in this compelling archrivalry.
Birmingham was principally cited for his work with Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy, both of whom he took to world titles; Hopkins parlayed his $10 million victory over Oscar De La Hoya into partnership in De La Hoya's company, Golden Boy Enterprises; Kenny has been the constant, the glue that holds everything together for "Friday Night Fights" telecasts; the ever-smiling
Sternburg proves that a positive attitude and dedicated work ethic do in fact go together; and Ratner has ably administrated perhaps the most influential boxing commission in the nation.