Boxing fans experienced several peaks and troughs in the past year. There was the excitement of the Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward superfight, there was the subsequent controversy surrounding its decision, there was tragedy and there were some terrific prizefights and standout performances.
Who and what stood out the most?
Find out when THE RING reveals its annual year-end awards for 2016. The categories: Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Upset of the Year, Event of the Year, Comeback of the Year, Round of the Year, Prospect of the Year and Most Inspirational.
Leading up to the announcement, we will give you the five finalists in one category each day. Day 1: Most Inspirational.
The finalists (in alphabetical order) are:
HOZUMI HASEGAWA The former two-division titleholder seemed to be finished as an elite fighter when he was stopped by Kiko Martinez in 2014. Then he did something unusual this past September: He went down in weight (to 122 pounds) to face titleholder Hugo Ruiz, won by KO and then walked away from boxing. Bravo.
BERNARD HOPKINS The legendary two-weight world champion ended his glorious career on a sour note when Joe Smith Jr. punched him out of their fight and out of the ring but it matters not. The 51-year-old Hopkins achieved more than he, or we, could ever have imagined and his contribution to the sport will never be forgotten.
JOSE RAMIREZ The 24-year-old former American Olympian is fighting on two fronts. He is not only a Top 10-rated junior welterweight contender but is also fighting to help California farm workers like his parents in their battle over water rights in the drought-torn state.
CLARESSA SHIELDS Shields grew up rudderless and in poverty in Flint, Michigan. Her father was incarcerated from the time she was 2 until she was 9; her mother battled addiction issues, leaving her and her sisters living a transient life. Still, she became the only U.S. fighter – male or female – to win two Olympic gold medals.
JOE SMITH JR. Turns out the 27-year-old light heavyweight contender is no “ordinary Joe.” A jackhammer operator from Long Island and a member of Local 66 of the Laborers Union, Smith worked by day and trained by night. And the dedication paid off in 2016: He KO’d Andrzej Fonfara, a stunning upset, and then stopped Hopkins.
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