2012 NorCal Boxing Award Winners

December 31, 2012, 6:15 pm
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After tabulating the plethora of media and fan ballots, CSNBayArea.com is proud to present the winners of the 2nd annual Northern California Boxing Awards.

Encompassing 23 comprehensive categories, we have recognized the achievements of our local pros as well as those of the amateurs of USA Boxing Region 11, the area spanning both NorCal and Central California.  For a recap on all the nominees and how the voting was conducted, check out the link below.

[RELATED: 2012 NorCal Boxing Awards: Punch your ballot!]

One note: We have decided to name our Role Model of the Year after Sy Sherman, a courageous 10-year-old boy from Salinas who was diagnosed with liver cancer last year but refused to succumb to the disease, inspiring several Bay Area sports figures to take up his cause, from boxers like Eloy Perez and Paul Mendez to the 49ers’ Patrick Willis and the Giants’ Bruce Bochy.

Last weekend, Sy passed away after beating 10 consecutive “expiration dates,” as his father Matt put it.  However, his memory will live on through everyone he has touched and inspired with his fighting spirit; he will never be forgotten.  If you would like to help the Sherman family with funeral arrangements, click here.

From all of us at CSN Bay Area and CSN California, congratulations to everyone who made 2012 a year to remember between the ropes!


WINNER: Andre Ward, Oakland.  The current super middleweight king finished 2012 atop our NorCal Pound-for-Pound Top 10 rankings based on the quality of his entire body of work, edging San Leandro’s Nonito Donaire and Gilroy’s Robert Guerrero, respectively.  After thoroughly cleaning out the 168-pound division with wins over the likes of Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, and Arthur Abraham, the unbeaten “S.O.G.” impressively dismantled Chad Dawson in 10 rounds with his precision punching and airtight defense.  While shoulder surgery will sideline him for at least 4-5 months and force him to cancel an upcoming bout against former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) hopes to fight twice by the end of 2013 and stake his claim as Floyd Mayweather’s heir apparent as the face of American boxing.

READERS’ CHOICE: Nonito Donaire (62%); Ward (35%)


WINNER: Nonito Donaire, San Leandro.  The reigning junior featherweight champion’s 2012 was all about answering questions.  There were doubts about his durability; he went 4-0 in an era where elite fighters usually appear twice a year.  Moving up from 118 to 122 pounds, there were qualms about his power moving up with him; Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs) knocked down all four of his foes en route to clear wins each time out.  Concerns surfaced regarding his ability to hurt guys with anything other than his patented left hook; in July, Donaire knocked out the top dog in the division, Toshiaki Nishioka, with a straight right hand.  But perhaps what set him apart for the award was becoming the first pro boxer to submit to year-round random drug testing.  With PEDs the topic du jour in all sports, “The Filipino Flash” has demonstrated why he’s one step ahead of the learning curve.

READERS’ CHOICE: Donaire (61%); Andre Ward (21%); Robert Guerrero (14%)


WINNER: Ava Knight, Chico.  Chico’s “Lady of Boxing” should change her nickname to “The Road Warrior” for her fearlessness in traveling to Mexico to defend her flyweight world title.  In 2012, she fought in three different cities south of the border, capped by an exciting decision win over local favorite Mariana “La Barbie” Juarez in Mexico City in an October de facto IBF/WBC unification.  As the universally recognized best 112-pound woman in the world, Knight (10-1-3, 5 KOs) has not signed up for her next fight.  However, in case she has designs on becoming undisputed, the owners of the other two major belts reside in NorCal—Watsonville’s Carina Moreno (WBA) and Melissa McMorrow (WBO).

READERS’ CHOICE: Carina Moreno (45%); Knight (36%)


WINNER: Jose Ramirez, Avenal.  Under the tutelage of Armando Mancinas, the Fresno State student capped an illustrious amateur career by qualifying for the London Olympics—the first Region 11 boxer to accomplish the feat since fellow lightweight Vicente Escobedo and future gold medalist Andre Ward made the Team USA roster in 2004.  Though he would lose in the Round of 16, Ramirez would rebound months later by turning pro and signing a lucrative contract with promoter Top Rank.  Ramirez won his debut by first-round stoppage on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard earlier this month.

READERS’ CHOICE: Brent Venegas III (55%); Ramirez (31%)


WINNER: Raquel Miller, San Francisco.  She’s a natural.  In the short span of two years, the Bayview native has gone from anonymous novice to one of the best female amateurs in the world.  With Ben Bautista in her corner, Miller advanced to the inaugural U.S. Women’s Olympic Trials at middleweight (165 pounds) in February before falling in the semifinals.  Her subsequent move down to welterweight suited “Ms. Pretty Beast” perfectly.  She not only won the national title at 152 pounds, she represented Team USA in May at the Women’s World Championships, where she advanced all the way to the final bout, capturing a silver medal.

READERS’ CHOICE: Brenda Gutierrez (66%); Casey Morton (19%); Miller (10%)


WINNER: Robert Guerrero UD12 Andre Berto.  Gilroy’s “Ghost” kicked down the door to securing the high-profile bouts in the welterweight division by surprisingly bullying the favored Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) in July.  After hitting the canvas in each of the first two rounds, the gutsy Berto refused to fold, standing in the pocket and using his faster hands to rattle off bombs.  But the southpaw Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs) was determined to prove that he belonged with the elite at 147 pounds and finished with a flourish, pounding his way to victory in a good old-fashioned streetfight.

READERS’ CHOICE: Manuel Avila-Ricky Lopez (45%); Guerrero-Berto (40%); Joel Diaz Jr.-Guy Robb (15%)


WINNER: Paola Estrada dec. Casey Morton.  The second installment of BabyFace Boxing’s “Beautiful Brawlers” series was loaded with excellent matchups, and this one in August topped them all as it was named Fight of the Night before a packed house at the Pacifica Moose Lodge.  Morton, out of San Francisco, and Estrada were two highly-regarded bantamweights on the national scene.  The bout had an unpredictable ebb and flow to it where both boxers took turns unloading powerful combinations.  Ultimately, the judges rewarded Estrada for her effective counterpunching in the third round, and the Palmdale native the close win on the cards.

READERS’ CHOICE: Brenda Gutierrez dec. Tatiana Almaraz (75%); Estrada dec. Morton (13%); Gary Salazar dec. Mario Ayala (10%)


WINNER: Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto, Round 12.  With both warriors bruised and bloody (the area around Berto’s eyes were so swollen he was looking out of paper-thin slits), high drama permeated the Ontario Citizens Business Bank Arena before the final round.  There was no question about what each man had to do to win.  Berto trailed on the cards and needed a knockout; Guerrero just had to cross the finish line.  But “The Ghost” wanted to make a statement, and intently stood toe-to-toe with Berto for three minutes, with referee Pat Russell having to separate the combatants after the final bell.

READERS’ CHOICE: Guerrero-Berto, Rd. 12 (33%); Glenn Donaire-Omar Salado, Rd. 11 (30%)


WINNER: Nonito Donaire KO3 Jorge Arce.  “The Filipino Flash” put an emphatic end to his 2012 campaign with his most devastating finish of all in December.  After flooring Arce in the final minute of the third frame with a right hand and two solid left hooks, the Mexican star would rise to his feet to receive one more salvo from the San Leandro product.  With his back on the ropes, Arce left his right hand dangerously low, and Donaire took full advantage, launching his signature left hook into Arce’s jaw and ending the bout with one second left in the round.

READERS’ CHOICE: Donaire KO3 Arce (81%); Andre Ward TKO10 Chad Dawson (13%)


WINNER: Virgil Hunter, Hayward.  After his longtime charge Andre Ward’s masterful performance against Chad Dawson in September, Hunter became the hottest trainer in the sport.  The celebrated cornerman now draws up gameplans for Karim Mayfield, Amir Khan, Alfredo Angulo, Brandon Gonzales, Fernando Guerrero, Stan Martyniouk, Demetrius Andrade, and Mike Dallas Jr.  Only one Hunter-trained fighter lost in 2012, and that was because heavyweight Chazz Witherspoon didn’t heed his coach’s instructions after being on the brink of upsetting Seth Mitchell.   

READERS’ CHOICE: Brian Schwartz (50%); Rick Noble (27%); Hunter (13%)


WINNER: Candy Lopez, San Jose.  The longtime San Jose PAL boss had an eventful year, as 108-pounder Eros Correa bounced back from missing out on his Olympic Team spot due to weight problems by winning the Adidas Nationals at flyweight.  Lopez also steered Andy Vences to the Adidas title at lightweight and San Jose State welterweight Oscar Gomez to the national collegiate title (the Spartans’ third in four years).  Lopez was also slated to serve as an assistant on the U.S. Olympic Team before clerical issues precluded him from making the trip to London.  

READERS’ CHOICE: Marcus Caballero (57%); Armando Mancinas (19%); Blanca Gutierrez (18%)


WINNER: Oscar Gomez, San Jose State.  The senior welterweight from South San Francisco defeated Navy’s R.J. Garcia in a 3-2 decision to win the National Collegiate Boxing Association title at 147 pounds—the only Northern California boxer to realize the feat in 2012.  The mechanical engineering major became the South Bay program’s third national champ in four seasons and outdid his sophomore campaign, when as a 139-pounder, he made it all the way to the semifinals.

READERS’ CHOICE: Colin Schmitt, UC Davis (61%); Nargis Shaghasi, USF (37%)


WINNER: Manuel Avila, Fairfield.  In this age of handlers rushing bonus babies before they’re ripe, “Tino” was developed the right way.  Staying active with five gradually difficult bouts, the 20-year-old junior featherweight passed every test.  Whether it was showing off his boxing skills against 54-bout veteran John Alberto Molina in September, or displaying his sense of urgency by stopping fellow prospect Ricky Lopez in the final round of a nationally-televised dogfight in December, Avila (11-0, 4 KOs) solidified his status as a 122-pounder to watch.

READERS’ CHOICE: Bruno Escalante (40%); Manuel Avila (32%); Guy Robb (19%)


WINNER: Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson.  Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions vowed to bring a “Las Vegas-style atmosphere” to Oakland, and he delivered.  From the HBO cameras producing a “24/7” episode to the electric atmosphere at the weigh-in, the hype leading up to Sept. 8 was in full force.  Of course, there was the fight itself.  With almost 10,000 fans filling Oracle Arena to will their native son to victory, Ward obliged the locals with the type of performance—and finish—that catapulted “S.O.G.” near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings.

READERS’ CHOICE: Ward-Dawson (54%); Vicente Escobedo-Lonnie Smith (23%)


WINNER: Beautiful Brawlers 2.  Blanca Gutierrez and BabyFace Boxing hosted their second annual all-female amateur card before a standing-room only crowd at the Pacifica Moose Lodge in August.  Amateurs from all around the West Coast competed in 18 action-packed bouts, including our Amateur Fight of the Year between Paola Estrada and Casey Morton and a FOTY nominee in Brenda Gutierrez’s heated clash with Tatiana Almaraz.  The only barrier standing in the way of another successful show next year will be finding a bigger venue to seat everyone.

READERS’ CHOICE: Aleman Boxing Independence Day (58%); Beautiful Brawlers 2 (38%)


WINNER: Aleman Boxing Club, Fresno.  Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the Central California scene or an out-of-towner visiting for one of their regular 20-bout Junior Olympic shows, the environment at Frank Aleman’s Boxing Club in Fresno is unmistakable.  As one of the smaller venues in Region 11, the seats are packed together closely—an environment that is only matched in its intimacy by its intensity as spectators raucously cheer elbow-to-elbow.

READERS’ CHOICE: Aleman Boxing Club (67%); Pacifica Moose Lodge (23%)


WINNER: Robert Guerrero, Gilroy.  While Glenn Donaire’s return from a three-year hiatus and Carina Moreno’s late title run are newsworthy, the media panel decided to go with Guerrero, who recovered from a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder in 2011 and a lengthy rehab stint to post back-to-back wins in 2012.  Did we mention he moved up 12 pounds and two divisions as well?  Now “The Ghost” is on the cusp of a May 4 showdown with Floyd Mayweather, and the thought of an upset isn’t as crazy as some might have thought only a year ago.

READERS’ CHOICE: Glenn Donaire (42%); Carina Moreno (42%); Guerrero (8%)


WINNER: Andre Ward, Oakland.  If there’s anyone who personifies Sy Sherman’s positive attitude, it’s the reigning super middleweight champion of the world.  While his unbeaten record and ring exploits have put him in the public spotlight, it’s his work outside of boxing that has helped to define the man known as “S.O.G.” (“Son of God”).  Ward and his family are active in their church community in Dublin’s The Well; he also serves as a motivational speaker at several prisons and schools in his spare time.  Most recently, he appeared at Hayward’s Mt. Eden High School.

READERS’ CHOICE: Ward (56%); Robert Guerrero (17%); Ava Knight (17%)


WINNER (TIE): Melissa McMorrow MD10 Susi Kentikian; Carina Moreno SD10 Susi Kentikian.  Poor Susi Kentikian.  Before 2012, the German-based flyweight was a perfect 29-0 and held a pair of world championship belts.  But in May, the San Jose native McMorrow traveled to Frankfurt and wrested away Kentikian’s WBO version of the title on the cards—something deemed impossible to imagine given the history of dubious decisions suffered by foreigners in the past.  Seven months later, Watsonville’s Moreno, who had lost four of five, replicated the feat and snatched away Kentikian’s WBA strap in another bout decided on points.

READERS’ CHOICE: Moreno SD10 Kentikian (67%); McMorrow MD10 Kentikian (17%)


WINNER: Ben Bautista, San Francisco.  For years, Ava Knight had languished as a bantamweight opponent for other stars—until she found her way to the SFC Boxing Gym.  Since her partnership with Bautista, who also trains her, Knight has since moved down to flyweight, won her first world title, and signed with Mexican promoter Hector Garcia.  Most recently, Bautista and Knight daringly traveled to Southern California in July to call out WBC 112-pound champ Mariana Juarez, and the ploy worked.  Knight got the unification tilt and pounded out a landmark win over Juarez in October to become a household name south of the border.  

READERS’ CHOICE: Ben Bautista (33%); Kathy Garcia (25%)


WINNER: Don Chargin/Paco Presents.  Chargin, a Hall of Famer and San Jose native who celebrated the 60th anniversary of his first show last year, continued his torrid pace in 2012.  With longtime associates Rafael “Paco” Damian and Jorge Marron, he held almost one nationally-televised pro card per month in Northern California, with his return to Sacramento’s historic Memorial Auditorium in October among them.  Along the way, several local fighters have been able to start their careers closer to home, namely Alan Sanchez, Manuel Avila, Paul Mendez, Jonathan Garcia, Jonathan Chicas, Bruno Escalante, Guy Robb, and John Abella.  

READERS’ CHOICE: Don Chargin/Paco Presents (39%); O.P.P. Presents (39%)


WINNER: Blanca Gutierrez/BabyFace Boxing.  Gutierrez is one of the most innovative minds in the local fight game.  Her groundbreaking all-female “Beautiful Brawlers” series has earned nationwide acclaim, an the heels of the first Olympic women’s boxing tournament in London, several hopefuls for Rio 2016 were able to hone their skills against top competition thanks to the efforts of Gutierrez and her team, which includes Eliza Olson and Martha Salazar.

READERS’ CHOICE: Caballero’s Boxing Club (49%); Aleman Boxing (33%); Blanca Gutierrez/BabyFace Boxing (16%)


WINNER: Michael Dallas Sr., Bakersfield.  Like water and sun to the Central Valley fields, Dallas cultivated the Bakersfield PAL amateur program into a national powerhouse.  While the former pro excelled at developing a parade of fighters that includes his son Mike Jr., middleweight contender Paul Mendez, and current National PAL middleweight champion Daniel Valdivia, his lasting legacy lies in the hope and stability he brought to the local community.  Dallas served as a mentor to countless adolescents who were provided with a positive alternative to life on the streets.  After a long battle with leukemia, Dallas passed away at 45.  As Mike Jr. fights for his first world title on Jan. 26 against junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse, he will undoubtedly find inspiration in the memory of his father.

READERS’ CHOICE: Candy Lopez (44%); Charles King (25%)


Ramon Aranda, 3morerounds.com; Mario Cabrera, Beatthecount.com; Mike Coppinger, USA Today/Ring Magazine; Nitesh Dutt, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area; Truth Esguerra, Philippine News; Paul Gutierrez, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area; Erik Killin, Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com; Andrew Lapachet, Primer Round Magazine; Ryan Maquiñana, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area/Boxingscene.com; Ray Markarian, Thesweetscience.com; Kim Francesca Martinez, Boxingscene.com; John Raspanti, Doghouseboxing.com; Champ Ross, Beatthecount.com; Colin Seymour, San Francisco Chronicle; Barry Tompkins, Showtime; Alexis Terrazas, San Francisco Examiner; Richie Tomassini, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area; Darren Velasco, Fightdomain.net; Henry Wofford, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board.  E-mail him at rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

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