Oleksandr Usyk, who was crowned the undisputed cruiserweight world champion, has been voted winner of the 2018 Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year award in balloting results announced by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs), who was also the ESPN and Ring magazine fighter of the year, giving him a sweep of the award, is the second fighter in a row from Ukraine to win the award, following in the footsteps of 2017 winner Vasiliy Lomachenko, Usyk’s close friend and fellow 2012 Olympic gold medalist and teammate.
Usyk, 32, won the eight-man World Boxing Super Series tournament in July and became only the fourth undisputed champion of the four-belt era and the first in cruiserweight division history. He also won all three of his 2018 bouts in the home country of his opponent: a two-belt unification fight with Mairis Briedis in Latvia in the WBSS semifinals, the undisputed four-belt title fight with Murat Gassiev in the final in Russia and a defense of all four belts against Tony Bellew in England.
Usyk garnered 83 percent of the vote from the BWAA members to beat out four other nominees for the award: unified lightweight world champion and pound-for-pound king Lomachenko, junior welterweight world titlist Maurice Hooker, lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia and welterweight titlist Terence Crawford.
The BWAA awards were owned by Team Usyk, which won the organization’s triple crown.
For the second year in a row, Anatoly Lomachenko, Usyk’s trainer (and Vasiliy Lomachenko’s father) won the Eddie Futch-John F.X. Condon Trainer of the Year award. He beat out Jay Deas, Robert Garcia and Derrick James.
Egis Klimas, who manages Usyk along with Lomachenko, newly crowned light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk and a slew of other fighters, won the Cus D’Amato Manager of the Year award for the third year in a row, beating out Keith Connolly, Chepo Reynoso and Sam Katkovski.
Team Usyk’s sweep of those three awards marks the second year in a row that has happened, as Team Lomachenko did it in 2017. It’s only the third time it has happened since 1992, when then-heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe won fighter of the year; Futch, Bowe’s trainer, won trainer of the year; and his manager, Rock Newman, was picked as manager of the year.
The other award winners:
Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier Fight of the Year went to Jarrett Hurd’s split decision win against Erislandy Lara to unify junior middleweight titles in an all-out slugfest in April. That fight was also awarded ESPN fight of the year honors. Hurd-Lara beat out heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder’s exciting 10th-round knockout of Luis “King Kong” Ortiz in March; Lomachenko’s 10th-round knockout of Jorge Linares to win a lightweight world title in May; junior welterweight Alex Saucedo’s seventh-round stoppage of Lenny Zappavigna in a back-and-forth bloodbath in June; and Canelo Alvarez’s narrow majority decision win over Gennady Golovkin to win the unified middleweight world title in their action-packed rematch in September.
The Sam Taub broadcast award winner was Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza, who has been at the network since 2011 and led its rise to dominance in the premium cable boxing battle with HBO. The other nominees were HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr., Showtime Sports executive producer David Dinkins Jr., HBO senior producer Dave Harmon and Showtime Sports broadcaster Jim Gray.
Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury won the Bill Crawford-John McCain award for courage in overcoming adversity. After winning the unified and lineal title from Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, Fury went on a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse. He also had mental health issues, blew up to more than 400 pounds and did not fight for 2½ years before getting his life together, slimming down and returning in 2018 for two wins followed by a draw with world titleholder Wilder. The other nominees were late Sen. John McCain, whose name was added to the award title, Main Events promoter Kathy Duva, trainer Jose Santa Cruz and Showtime broadcaster Brian Custer.
International Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Lampley, the voice of HBO boxing for more than 30 years until the network’s exit from the sport in December after 45 years, was voted winner of the Barney Nagler Long and Meritorious Service award. The other finalists were CompuBox founder Bob Canobbio, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti, MGM Resorts International public relations executive director Scott Ghertner and former middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Bernard Hopkins.
There was a three-way tie for the Marvin Kohn Good Guy award between publicist Steve Brener, president of Brener Zwikel & Associates; Ray Stallone of HBO Sports media relations; and four-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire. The other nominee was two-division world titlist Badou Jack.
Two other award winners were previously announced. Unified women’s middleweight world titlist Claressa Shields (8-0, 2 KOs) was named winner of the Christy Martin award for female fighter of the year in a unanimous vote of the BWAA women’s boxing committee and Thom Loverro, a sports columnist for the Washington Times since 1992, who has written extensively about boxing in his decades of writing experience, was voted the 46th winner of the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism, which is voted on only by past winners.
All of the winners will be honored at the 94th annual BWAA awards dinner in the spring at a site to be determined.