Report and photos by Boxing Bob Newman
The annual IBF awards banquet was held tonight at the Hotel Concorde in Berlin as part of the 30th annual IBF convention. The event was highlighted by current IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko making a rare appearance at this, or any convention. Klitschko picked up a special award for remarkable sportsmanship and the longest reigning IBF heavyweight champion, as well as a shared award for most defenses in 2012.
Wladimir took the podium for a moment to address the convention delegates and board of directors. He thanked the IBF, and admitted he had no idea he was going to receive the awards. He was pleasantly surprised that he was seated next his “good friend” and former foe, Chris Byrd. Klitschko reflected on the character of Byrd, exemplified in how he raised his son with manners and grace. After Byrd lost to Klitschko for the second time, the younger Byrd congratulated the victor and told him to hold the belt or a long time. Klitschko turned toward Byrd back at their table and said, “Chris, don’t take this the wrong way, but I love you as a man,” to which the crowd laughed and applauded.
The following awards were also presented (Klitschko was the only fighter to accept his honors in person):
Jersey Joe Walcott Award – Miguel Vazquez
Female Fighter of the Year – Yazmin Rivas
Fight of the Year:
IBF – Yoan Hernandez vs. Steve Cunningham
Female – Dahiana Santana vs. Helen Joseph
USBA – Garrett Wilson vs. Andres Taylor
I/C – Nikola Stevanovic vs. Ayoub Nefzi
Pan Pacific – Rusalee Samor vs. Romnick Magos
Most Title Defenses:
IBF – Wladimir Klitschko – 3, Miguel Vazquez – 3, Leo Santa Cruz -3
Female – Yazmin Rivas – 3, Ava Knight – 3*
Pan Pacific – Patomsuk Pathompothong
Most Active Promoter:
IBF – Golden Boy Promotions
Female – HG Boxing
I/C – Matchroom Sport
Pan Pacific – Jimmy’s Boxing
Another special honor, newly created, was given to the referee who exemplifies the spirit of the late IBF referee Wayne Kelly. The award of a beer, a T-shirt and a mug was given to the deserving Charlie Fitch.
The annual raffle to raise money for SARB (Special Assistance to Retired Boxers) was held with several prizes donated ranging from the ever popular money hat, to free registration at next year’s convention (where ever that may be), to IBF goodie bags, to a copy of the new Mike Fitzgerald and Patrick Morley book, “Third Man in the Ring.”
Tomorrow’s final session will discuss unfinished business and proposals for next year’s 31st annual convention in 2014.