Los Angeles – At the end of the year, when several highly respected publications, including ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Yahoo! Sports named Andre Ward their Fighter of the Year, it seemed that the people around the 2004 Olympic gold medalist were even more thrilled than he was. Though grateful for the awards he had earned, the WBA and WBC super middleweight World Champion was waiting for “the big one.”
That wait came to an end yesterday, when the Boxing Writers Association of America announced that the 27-year-old Ward was to receive the 2011 BWAA Fighter of the Year award named after one of the greatest of all-time, Sugar Ray Robinson. The BWAA stated “Ward was chosen by an overwhelming margin over nominees Nonito Donaire, Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao.”
Not a bad list of pugilists to be associated with.
In 2011, en route to capturing the inaugural SHOWTIME Super Six World Boxing Classic, Andre showcased a dominant victory over Arthur Abraham in the semi-finals in May, and followed it up with a masterful performance over Carl Froch in the tournament finale on Dec. 17. An MRI after the fight revealed that he had entered the bout with a double fracture in his left hand, making his victory all the more special.
“I want to thank God for giving me the strength to put in the work year after year to get to this point,” said the humble champion. “I also want to thank my manager, James Prince, my promoters Antonio Leonard and Dan Goossen, everyone who is a part of Team Ward, including all of my family, friends, and loyal fans who have been behind me all these years. This award is just as much for them as it is for me.
“Even in the midst of receiving this tremendous award, Team Ward is not going to let up. In 2012 and beyond we’re going to push forward, and God-willing we can be considered for these awards every year. Its easy to get comfortable at a time like this, but I can assure everybody that I’m going to continue to put in the work to be the best that I can be. I’m going to stay humble, keep God first, and with that: the best is yet to come.”
“Since the day we signed Andre from his Olympic gold medal performance, to this past December beating Froch, he has been a complete joy to work with, as well as his whole team,” said Goossen. “The crazy thing is I don’t believe Andre has scratched the surface of where he’s headed. Inside the ring he’s vicious; outside the ring he’s classy and humble. Simply said, he’s the future.”
The accolades for Team Ward continued when the BWAA also acknowledged the man who has trained Andre since the first day he stepped into a boxing gym, voting Virgil Hunter winner of the Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year award.
“I’m very happy for my trainer and Godfather, Virgil, for winning this prestigious award,” said Ward of the man who has taught him his craft. “I’m probably more excited for him than I am for myself. I’ve always wanted him to win this award because he is one of the hardest working trainers in the game.”
“I’m thrilled for Virgil,” Goossen further stated. “He deserves to be mentioned with the top trainers in the sport today, and like Andre, I believe the best is yet to come.”
Andre, who is expecting his fourth child with his wife Tiffiney, was certain not to forget the media, stating: “Last but not least, I want to thank the boxing writers, because without them, this would not be possible.”