By Jake Donovan
Barring injuries, illness or contract disputes, John Molina Jr. and Lucas Matthysse will have both had their first fight of 2015 by the time the annual Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) Awards dinner rolls around.
Whatever happens in their respective upcoming fights, they will have April 24th to look forward to. It's fitting their their unforgettable war from last April will take place nearly one year to the date of this year's awards dinner, as their instant classic was announced by the BWAA as the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier winner for 2014 Fight of the Year.
Matthysse overcame two knockdowns and a cut to twice drop Molina late in the fight en route to forcing an 11th round stoppage. Their bout took place April 26, 2014 at StubHub Center in Carson, California. The boxing-friendly venue regularly produces Fight of the Year candidates and—in the eyes of the BWAA—the second straight winner in the category, and third in the span of seven years.
The win for Matthysse came seven months after suffering a competitive but clear points loss to Danny Garcia in their alphabet unification bout and vacant World lineal super lightweight championship. The free-swinging Argentine brawler has now won two straight, his encore performance a 2nd round knockout to Roberto Ortiz last September.
Matthysse could very well land right back in this category a year from now; his next scheduled fight takes place April 18—just six days before the BWAA dinner at a New York City location to be determined—when he faces Ruslan Provodnikov in what's pegged as a can't-miss brawl. The bout takes place at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York (upstate NY), one exit away from the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Molina has now lost two straight, having dropped a 10-round decision to Humberto Soto in the opening bout of a Pay-Per-View telecast topped by Floyd Mayweather's repeat win over Marcos Maidana last September. His next fight actually earns the distinction of serving as the first boxing to air live on primetime on NBC since 1985, when he faces Adrien Broner in a schedueld 12-round bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Steve and Livvy Cunningham are co-winners of the Bill Crawford Courage In Overcoming Adversity Award for 2014 from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
The Cunninghams, along with Kennedy, will be honored at the BWAA’s 90th annual Awards Dinner on Friday, April 24 in New York City.
“This shows that boxing, which is supposed to be such a heartless sport, has a humane side and that there are really good people who do care about others,” noted Cunningham. “We know the boxing world knows our struggle, and they can feel for us.”
Added Livvy, Steve's wife and boxing manager: “It’s an amazing honor, and it shows how much the people in boxing have been behind us through this whole thing. It’s really been heartwarming and inspiring.”
The honor will come some six weeks following Cunningham's challenge of unbeaten heavyweight contender Vyacheslav Glazkov. The bout serves as the chief support to the unified light heavyweight title fight between undefeated Sergey Kovalev and former World lineal champ Jean Pascal, and marks Cunningham's long overdue debut on cable giant HBO.
For an ongoing-record seventh time, Freddie Roach is the Eddie Futch Award winner as Trainer of the Year.
“Words cannot express how much winning an award with Eddie Futch's name on it means to me,” Roach said in a press statement. “I'd like to thank the BWAA for this honor. My name may be on the plaque, but I am just a representative of the collective hard work and dedication from the most talented and hardest-working fighters and assistant trainers in the world. It is a privilege to work with them.”
Among Roach's stellar 2014 campaign were big wins by his two most notable clients. Manny Pacquiao regained his welterweight title in a revenge win over Tim Bradley last April and pitched a 12-round shutout over a caged Chris Algieri in November. Miguel Cotto made history by becoming the first ever fighter from Puerto Rico to claim titles in four weight classes following his shockingly one-sided knockout win over Sergio Martinez in New York City last June.
Al Haymon is the Cus D’Amato Award winner as Manager of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time—and record third-straight. How his role is defined in light of his platform of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) series on multiple networks could determine whether or not the low-key, high-powered adviser picks up a fifth award and record-extending fourth straight by this time next year.
The BWAA is also proud to announce the John F. X. Condon Award winner for Long and Meritorious Service to Jack Hirsch, the six-term former president of the organization.
Seth Abraham, one of the building forces of HBO Boxing, is the Sam Taub Award winner for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, and longtime New York Times sports columnist Ira Berkow is the A.J. Liebling Award winner for Outstanding Boxing Writing.
The BWAA is posthumously bestowing the great Dan Goossen with the Marvin Kohn Good Guy award.
Previously announced winners are Terence Crawford as the Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year, and Mark Whicker as the Nat Fleischer winner for lifetime achievement in boxing journalism.
All the winners will be honored Friday, April 24, in New York City the night before the Wladimir Klitschko-Bryant Jennings heavyweight title fight at the annual BWAA Awards Dinner, which will be emceed by Brooklyn Nets announcer David Diamante and is open to the public.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox