26.02.07 – By Robert Jones: As a new member of the Boxing Writers Association of America I was given an auxiliary membership and therefore was not allowed to vote for the 2006 BWAA yearly awards. After reviewing the winners of the yearly awards I was more confused about the award they didn’t give out.
I think almost everyone in the sport of boxing would agree that Manny Pacquiao is a very deserving recipient of the Fighter of the Year Award. Also, despite his recent actions questioning the loyalty of his fighters, Freddy Roach is a good pick for trainer of the year.
It was the absence of Manager of the Year I found a little bit shocking. I just don’t see how Scott Hirsch could be looked over as Manager of the Year for 2006. Hirsch, in only his second year in the sport, lead the unheralded trio of Shannon Briggs, Jameel McCline and JD Chapman to a record of 14 wins and no losses in 2006. He maneuvered the previously unranked Shannon Briggs through the alphabet organizations to a title shot and to winning the WBO Heavyweight Title after many thought Briggs’ best days were behind him.
The Briggs feat seems easy compared to the rehab he did for the career of McCline. Previous to signing with Scott Hirsch, Jameel McCline had lost three out of four fights including a near shutout to Zuri Lawrence. He was not only out of the rankings, but also out of chances according to most boxing scribes. Hirsch led McCline to six straight wins, got him back in the rankings, and eventually in 2007 landed him a title shot against WBA Heavyweight Champion, Nicolai Valuev. JD Chapman was a just another lightly regarded Midwest prospect out of Arkansas with no amateur background entering 2006. Under Hirsch’s guidance Chapman won six straight fights over fighters with winning records and ended the year as the number fifteen ranked heavyweight in the world, according to the WBC.
When I contacted Mr. Hirsch to get his opinion on this matter he gave the politically correct but maybe disingenuous statement that, “I’m just happy to have been nominated and flattered so many people have called and said I deserved to win. I don’t know the BWAA criteria but I’m sure they had good reason not to give out the award this year.”
As writers we all like to second guess the fighters, trainers, managers and promoters we cover, its part of our job. I can’t think of anything Scott Hirsch could have done differently in 2006 to provide his fighters with better management and I can’t think of a more deserving candidate for the Al Buck award in 2006 or in any other year.