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2011 NorCal Boxing Award Winners


For the fighter who finishes 2011 atop the CSNBayArea.com NorCal Pound-for-Pound Top 10 due to overall career body of work plus recent achievements

WINNER: Nonito Donaire, San Leandro; Andre Ward, Oakland

Not to be confused with the Fighter of the Year Award, which is limited only to accomplishments in 2011, two old buddies fittingly shared the NorCal Pound-for-Pound crown.

Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) has won four belts in three different weight classes and holds victories over eight former or current beltholders, including two devastating knockouts against former champions Vic Darchinyan (flyweight) and Fernando Montiel (bantamweight)—both of whom have graced Ring Magazine’s World Pound-for-Pound Top 10 rankings.  Now he will move up from 118 to 122 pounds.

While Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) holds only three such wins over former of current titlists, he has been undoubtedly dominant at super middleweight, and emerged from the two-year Super Six tournament gauntlet as the supreme 168-pounder in the world with wins over former champs like Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch.

Readers’ Choice: Donaire (29%); Ward (29%)

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For the male professional fighter who has achieved the most success in 2011

WINNER: Andre Ward, Oakland

No question here on the identity of our NorCal Fighter of the Year.  Ward only fought twice in 2011, but what a 12-month stretch it was.

In May, the WBA super middleweight champ broke into Ring Magazine’s World Pound-for-Pound Top 10 for the first time with his points victory over Arthur Abraham.  “S.O.G.” then closed the year in style, annexing the WBC and Ring Magazine 168-pound titles, including the Showtime Super Six trophy in a lopsided decision over Carl Froch.

A likely frontrunner for World Fighter of the Year as well, the former Olympic gold medalist hopes that 2012 will bring even more opportunities to become a crossover star in America.

Readers’ Choice: Karim Mayfield, San Francisco (47%); Ward (41%)

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For the female professional fighter who has achieved the most success in 2011

WINNER: Ava Knight, Chico

Long overlooked following a 16-month layoff, Knight (7-1-3, 4 KOs) finally burst on the scene this year.  In January, she knocked out Gloria Salas, followed by a scintillating draw with Kaliesha West five months later that almost netted her the WBO bantamweight title.  “The Lady of Boxing” would cap her 2011 by descending six pounds in October and traveling to Mexico, where she pulverized Arely Mucino in two rounds for the IBF flyweight title.  The belt was Knight’s first, making the 112-pounder the fifth reigning champ in NorCal.

Readers’ Choice: Knight (69%)

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For the male amateur fighter who has achieved the most success in 2011

WINNER: Eros Correa, San Jose

CSNBayArea.com was the first to bring you the story of Correa, a light flyweight who thought about quitting the sport after getting what he felt was a raw decision at the USA Boxing National Championships against defending 108-pound champion Louie Byrd.  After receiving a pep talk from local amateur officials and a financial boost from the father of San Jose PAL teammate Andy Vences, the recent Overfelt High School grad not only won the Last Chance Qualifier to take the final spot in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, he turned the tables on Byrd in the semis en route to becoming the first NorCal fighter since Andre Ward to win the Trials.

Readers’ Choice: Correa (27%); Andy Vences, San Jose (22%)

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For the female amateur fighter who has achieved the most success in 2011

WINNER: Raquel Miller, San Francisco

McAteer High School may no longer exist, but one of its alums continues to keep the name alive.  Under the tutelage of Pacifica’s Blanca Gutierrez of BabyFace Gym wth help from SFC Boxing’s Ben Bautista, City native Miller has developed into the best amateur middleweight in the region, with a gold medal at the prestigious Desert Showdown and a bronze medal in the National PAL Tournament two months ago. Even better, that recent third-place finish in the 165-pound division meant receiving a berth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Winning the Trials would punch her ticket to London as a member of the inaugural U.S. female boxing team.

Readers’ Choice: Miller (35%); Shanne Ruelas, Fresno (28%)

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For the collegiate fighter who has achieved the most success in 2011

WINNER: Patrick Welde, Santa Clara

One usually won’t find a finance major in the ring, but this boxing Bronco from Philadelphia has chosen to buck the trend.  The SCU co-captain has amassed a few honors during his four years in the South Bay, with this season’s tally including a berth in the light welterweight Western Regional finals, a spot in the semis of the NCBA 139-pound National Championships, and the distinction of being the only NorCal collegian named All-American.

Readers’ Choice: Welde (65%), J.R. Abellon, USF (35%)

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For the most accomplished pro fighter in 2011 who has not yet challenged for a regional belt (minimum five bouts)

WINNER: Brandon Gonzales, Sacramento

Gonzales (15-0, 10 KOs) finally made his television debut in 2011, picking up two decision victories against middleweight veterans who make it nearly impossible to look good against.  The first came via the unanimous variety on TeleFutura against Lester Gonzalez in January, while the second was a razor-sharp split nod against Ossie Duran on Showtime.  Now at the doorstep of the alphabet organizations’ top 10 rankings, “Flawless” hopes to put Sactown back on the map as a fight town.

Readers’ Choice: Guy Robb, Sacramento (86%); Bruno Escalante, San Carlos (14%)

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For the fighter most exemplary to the Northern California community in 2011

WINNER: Robert Guerrero, Gilroy

Having put his career temporarily on hold last year when wife Casey suffered from leukemia, Guerrero is no stranger to adversity and how to respond to it.  Since Casey’s cancer has gone into remission, “The Ghost” has raised money for several charities, namely the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  After an injury to the rotator cuff in his left shoulder four months ago left him on the shelf involuntarily, Guerrero (29-1-1, 18 KOs) has applied that same grit to rehab.  The five-time beltholder’s recovery is ahead of schedule and he will hit the gym next week.

Readers’ Choice: Karim Mayfield, San Francisco (31%); Andre Ward, Oakland (27%); Guerrero (27%)

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For the most exciting, competitive professional bout in 2011 from start to finish involving at least one Northern California fighter

WINNER: Sacramento’s Guy Robb MD4 Manuel Morales (Mar. 25)

Long after the TeleFutura cameras had been packed away on March 25th, a splendid little war erupted at the Fairfield Sports Center.

Morales came in five pounds over the agreed-upon limit of 136, but the size advantage would not deter Robb, 131, as the “Sactown Bloodhound” from Grant High School unleashed a murderous body attack to open the action.  Almost immediately, the two fought in a proverbial phone booth, with Robb’s combination punching countered by Morales’ individual power shots, many of which could be heard in the parking lot upon impact.  With a draw hanging in the balance on many a fan’s scorecard, Robb got the better of the exchanges in the final round, with two uppercuts finding the target in the waning moments.  Upon hearing the bell, what was left of the crowd stood in appreciative applause, perhaps aware that a new fan favorite was born.

Official scores were 38-38, and 40-36 twice for Robb.  CSNBayArea.com had it 39-37 Robb.

Readers’ Choice: Ulises Soriano MD4 Jhonnathan Zamudio – Oct. 28 (46%); Robb MD4 Morales – Mar. 25 (35%)

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For the most exciting, competitive amateur fight in 2011 from start to finish involving at least one Northern California fighter

WINNER: San Jose’s Eros Correa W3 Louie Byrd (Aug. 3)

The buildup to the fight was pregnant with subplot.  Byrd, the three-time light flyweight national champion, defeated Correa in June’s USA Boxing Nationals 108-pound tournament in a disputed decision.  A year before, Byrd cruised to a lopsided decision against his South Bay challenger. This time, in the U.S. Olympic Trials, things would be different, as Correa stayed away from his overhand right while repeatedly landing his own right hand, refusing to let up until the final bell.

The official score was 25-25, but Correa advanced to the final via a 132-131 punches thrown tiebreaker.

Readers’ Choice: Tatiana Almaraz W4 Casey Morton – Dec. 2 (57%); Correa W3 Byrd (21%)

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For the most exciting, competitive round in 2011 from the opening to final bell

WINNER: Sacramento’s Guy Robb vs. Manuel Morales – Rd. 4 (Mar. 25)

NorCal’s Fight of the Year also contains its finest round.  Here’s how MaxBoxing.com recounted the fourth frame:

“The final round began with Morales landing a left hook flush on Robb’s jaw. Robb seemed undeterred and ripped an overhand right that found its mark. Morales then jumped on Robb and jabbed his way inside, landing a left hook to the body and a right uppercut that scored effectively. It was now Robb’s turn to shine. He feinted his way into an opening and threw a one-two that ended with a left hook that just missed its target. With both fighters in a crouch and completely winded, Morales threw to the body and Robb landed two snappy uppercuts that might have given him the round. The final bell elicited wails of approval from the fans.”

Readers’ Choice: Robb vs. Morales – Rd. 4 (69%)

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For the most entertaining, well-promoted Northern California-based pro show in 2011

WINNER: Golden Boy/Don Chargin’s “Perez vs. Gonzalez,” San Francisco (Feb. 18)

In the first televised fight card to come to The City since HBO brought a twinbill to the Civic Center 10 years ago featuring two guys named Mayweather and Pacquiao in separate bouts, Eloy Perez and Mercito Gesta were victorious in their respective fights at the Longshoremen’s Hall.  The undercard also featured the debut of San Bruno’s Joe Gumina, who won via a first-round knockout of Jose Hurtado, and San Franciscan Richard Hargraves, who battled San Jose’s Clint Coronel to a draw.

Readers’ Choice: Golden Boy/Don Chargin’s “Perez vs. Jimenez,” Salinas – Sep. 2 (38%); Golden Boy/Don Chargin’s “Perez vs. Escalante” – Mar. 25 (25%)

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For the most entertaining, well-promoted Northern California-based amateur show in 2011

WINNER: Boxing SF’s “Winter Amateur Championships” (Dec. 2)

An estimated 1,200 filled the Longshoremen’s Hall in Fisherman’s Wharf for a fight experience that echoed something one would see at a professional show, with a cordoned-off VIP section, taco and beer lines, a live DJ, and even ring card girls. During an intermission between bouts, Bay Area boxing greats past and present stood side-by-side in the ring, indicative of how vibrant the scene was back then and the exciting times that are to come now and in the future.

Readers’ Choice: Aleman Boxing’s “U.S. Independence Day Boxing Championships” – Jul. 2 (43%); BabyFace/Bad Girls Boxing’s “Beautiful Brawlers” – Sep. 10 (37%)

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For the pro or amateur venue with the best overall atmosphere and fanbase of 2011

WINNER: Longshoremen’s Hall, San Francisco

The gorgeous sightlines from the Fisherman’s Wharf venue would not go to waste, as two pro shows and one amateur event gave local fight fans plenty to remember in 2011.  Out-of-towners like lightweight contender Mercito Gesta and featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. as well as local up-and-comers like Eloy Perez, Jonathan Chicas, and Joe Gumina made appearances.  The “Winter Amateur Boxing Championships” brought a pro-like feel and gave us great performances from Ricardo Pinell, Tatiana Almaraz, and Terry Fernandez, who won their respective scraps.

Readers’ Choice: Longshoremen’s Hall (50%); Salinas Sports Complex (38%)

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For the most spectacular, stunning, and sensational pro knockout or referee stoppage of 2011 by a Northern California fighter

WINNER: San Leandro’s Nonito Donaire TKO2 Fernando Montiel (Feb. 19)

NorCal’s best KO didn’t occur in the area, but its impact was definitely felt at home as a left hook from Donaire detonated on Montiel’s right cheek, sending him sprawling on the canvas like a fish out of water.  As a valiant Montiel slowly rose to his feet, the East Bay resident finished the job with another massive left hook that prompted referee Russell Mora to stop his Mexican foe on his feet at 2:25, making Donaire the unified bantamweight champion of the world.

Readers’ Choice: Chico’s Ava Knight KO2 Arely Mucino – Oct. 29 (44%); Nonito Donaire TKO2 Fernando Montiel –Feb. 19 (27%)

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For the pro trainer based in Northern California who has accomplished the most in 2011 with his/her fighter(s) from both a strategic standpoint as well as through individual development

WINNER: Virgil Hunter, Oakland

Andre Ward is our Fighter of the Year, and someone had to get him there.  Enter Virgil Hunter, the cerebral cornerman who has been a mastermind in conjuring up gameplans that render Ward’s opponents’ most potent weapons useless.  In 2011, the two victims were Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch, Ward’s final two stops before winning the Super Six tournament.  Hunter has also begun to man the corner of our Prospect of the Year, Brandon Gonzales, steering him to a victory on Showtime’s “ShoBox” series in October.

Readers’ Choice: Ben Bautista, San Francisco (31%); Hunter (24%)

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For the amateur trainer based in Northern California who has accomplished the most in 2011 with his/her fighter(s) from both a strategic standpoint as well as through individual development

WINNER: Ben Bautista, San Francisco

SFC Boxing in The City’s Tenderloin district has become a haven for champions, and the gym has its founder to thank for his tireless work with both pros and amateurs.  This award is likely a testament to his constant presence on the amateur scene, with Central Pacific District middleweight champion Aaron Coley and National PAL female middleweight bronze medalist Raquel Miller (whom he aids Blanca Gutierrez in training) among his pupils.  Maintaining these duties while holding a post as Northern California Regional Director for USA Boxing, “Bizy Ben” doesn’t look to stop anytime soon.

Readers’ Choice: Blanca Gutierrez, Pacifica (42%); Bautista (20%)

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For the most improbable and impactful win by a Northern California underdog in 2011

WINNER: San Francisco’s LaRon Mitchell W3 Lenroy Thompson (Jun. 22)

The super heavyweight quarterfinal in this year’s USA Boxing National Championships was a mismatch.  In one corner, you had Lenroy “Cam” Thompson, the top-ranked 201-plus-pounder in America and defending National Golden Gloves champion.  In the other stood San Francisco State alum LaRon Mitchell, who had all of 11 amateur bouts under his belt.  What transpired was nothing short of amazing, as Mitchell befuddled Thompson with his southpaw stance and constant movement, pulling out a 12-10 victory that propelled him into an eventual silver medal at nationals.

Readers’ Choice: San Jose’s Eros Correa W3 Louie Byrd – Aug. 3 (45%)

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For the Northern California-based manager/advisor who has done the most to put his/her fighter(s) in the best position to succeed in 2011

WINNER: Kathy Garcia, Salinas

For the better part of four years, the members of family-operated Garcia Boxing (manager Kathy, trainer Max, and their son, assistant trainer Sam) have seen Eloy Perez develop before their vigilant eyes since his arrival from Washington State.  After getting him four nationally televised fights in 2011 where he went 4-0 (2 KOs), the bespectacled Kathy has finally secured a long-awaited world title shot for “The Prince,” who will make the move from TeleFutura to HBO for a six-figure payday against WBO junior lightweight champion Adrien Broner in February.  She has also taken on prospect Rudy Puga and steered him to two quick wins on national TV.

Readers’ Choice: Ben Bautista, San Francisco (67%); Garcia (28%)

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For the professional promoter who has done the most for Northern California fans in 2011

WINNER: Don Chargin/Golden Boy

Hall of Fame promoter Don Chargin, an alum of Bellarmine Prep and San Jose State, has returned to the location of his formative years in the fight game to bring the NorCal fight fans nine pro shows in 2011.  Worthy of note is that eight of them were broadcast by TeleFutura, something almost unheard of in recent times and a result of Chargin’s working relationship with Golden Boy Promotions, which has partial control of these TV dates.  Several Bay Area fighters made their televised debuts on Chargin shows this year in shows ranging from Salinas all the way to Woodland.  In addition, had Robert Guerrero not injured his shoulder, Golden Boy had planned to bring HBO to HP Pavilion in August before canceling the card.

Readers’ Choice: Don Chargin/Golden Boy (100%)

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For the amateur promoter who has done the most for Northern California fans in 2011

WINNER: Boxing SF, San Francisco

The Boxing Union, a.k.a. Boxing SF, is an ambitious collaborative with the goal of bringing a professional atmosphere to their cards while building a grassroots fanbase that can support these amateurs when they turn pro.  Two successful shows at the Roccapulco in the Mission and a dandy at the Longshoremen’s Hall to close the year were indicative of the group’s progress toward reaching that objective.  Founder Arturo Gastelum, consultant John Chavez, matchmaker Rob Fernandez, and publicist Mario Serrano have been instrumental in mobilizing the troops and delivering the product to that all-important demographic—the repeat customer.

Readers’ Choice: Aleman Boxing, Fresno (41%); BabyFace/Bad Girls Boxing (32%)

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For the male or female fighter, professional or amateur, who has best overcome adversity away from the ring in 2011 to achieve unexpected success

WINNER: Karim Mayfield, San Francisco

When 2011 first started, Mayfield (15-0-1, 9 KOs) was staring at a yearlong stint of inactivity and many wondered if he would ever fight for a world title, much less crack the top 10 of the alphabet boys’ rankings.  But “The Hard Hitta” would catch lightning in a bottle, parlaying a sparring experience with Manny Pacquiao into a promotional deal with Prize Fight.  Since then, he became the first fighter to stop Steve Forbes in June, which was followed by a 10-round drubbing of Patrick Lopez two months ago that gave Mayfield the NABO junior welterweight title.

Readers’ Choice: Mayfield (67%); Glenn Donaire, San Leandro (33%)

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For the person in the sport, participant or non-participant, who most deserves recognition for their contribution to Northern California boxing

WINNER: Don Chargin, San Jose

In 1951, Chargin was a student at San Jose State when he promoted his first local show featuring former bantamweight champ Manuel Ortiz.  From that point forward, he was hooked.  Building his reputation for giving grateful fight fans a “war-a-week” meant holding shows all over Northern California—26 consecutive weeks in San Jose at one point—before opening what we now know as Oracle Arena by holding a heavyweight title tournament. After a subsequent meritorious stint in Southern California where several Hall of Famers made their names on his legendary Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium cards, Chargin and his wife Lorraine would travel north to Sacramento, where they built hometown heroes like Tony Lopez and Loreto Garza into both feature attractions and world champions.  Now in the twilight of this career, Chargin has been rejuvenated by the challenge of turning the cities of Northern California into boxing boomtowns once more.  Never was this more evident than in September, when over 1,000 fans showed up to the outdoor Salinas Sports Complex in the 60th anniversary of Chargin’s very first show.

Readers’ Choice: Chargin (45%); Paris Alexander, San Francisco (43%)

Source: Ryan Maquiñana

Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Panel. E-mail him at rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.
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