2012 NorCal Boxing Awards: Punch your ballot!

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2012 NorCal Boxing Awards: Punch your ballot!

Another year of Northern California boxing has come to an end, and local historians will look back on 2012 with particular fondness.

Over the past 12 months, seven local pros have held world titles of some sort, with all but one still in possession of their respective belts. (Our definition of a NorCal fighter is one who resides and represents any city from Bakersfield to the northern border.)

The amateur ranks in Region 11, the area encompassing Northern and Central California, yielded an Olympian, a world runner-up, a collegiate champion, and several national tournament medalists.

Even the amount of pro and amateur fight cards increased, giving rise to a plethora of exciting bouts, highlight-reel knockouts and the emergence of new faces.

It is time to recognize the tremendous efforts of those involved by announcing the finalists for CSN’s 2nd Annual NorCal Boxing Awards.

Fans, here’s your chance to be heard by voting on any or all of the categories.

VOTING INSTRUCTIONS:
1) Sign in to your CSNBayArea.com account, or create one.  It’s easy and FREE!
2) In the comments section below, leave the categories and names of the nominees you wish to vote for.  You may only vote once per category.
3) Deadline to vote is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

The finalist in each category that ends up with the most readers' support will earn one composite vote that will count in the final tally along with the individual votes from our media panel.

EXAMPLE: If Robert Guerrero and Carina Moreno ended up with seven votes apiece among the media panel for Comeback Fighter of the Year, then the readers’ choice would end up being the tiebreaker, since it would count for one whole vote.

For more information on each finalist, go to Norcalboxing.net.  We will present the winners on CSNBayArea.com the last weekend of the year, so read on for your nominees and punch your ballot!


2012 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOXING AWARDS
FINALISTS

POUND-FOR-POUND CHAMPION
For the fighter who finishes the year atop the CSNBayArea.com NorCal Pound-for-Pound Top 10 due to overall career body of work plus recent achievements.  This award is not to be confused with the Fighter of the Year Award, which is limited only to accomplishments in 2012.

FINALISTS: Nonito Donaire (San Leandro), Robert Guerrero (Gilroy), Ava Knight (Chico), Karim Mayfield (San Francisco), Andre Ward (Oakland)

MALE PRO FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
For the male professional fighter who has achieved the most success in 2012

FINALISTS: Nonito Donaire (San Leandro), Vicente Escobedo (Woodland), Robert Guerrero (Gilroy), Karim Mayfield (San Francisco), Andre Ward (Oakland)

FEMALE PRO FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
For the female professional fighter who has achieved the most success in 2012

FINALISTS: Ana Julaton (Daly City), Ava Knight (Chico), Melissa McMorrow (San Jose), Carina Moreno (Watsonville)

MALE AMATEUR FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
For the male amateur fighter who has achieved the most success in 2012 (Senior Open division only)

FINALISTS: Antwon Abron (Stockton), Mario Ayala (Sacramento), Eros Correa (San Jose), LaRon Mitchell (San Francisco), Jose Ramirez (Avenal), Gary Salazar (Fresno), Daniel Valdivia (Bakersfield), Brent Venegas III (Sacramento)

FEMALE AMATEUR FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
For the female amateur fighter who has achieved the most success in 2012 (Senior Open division only)

FINALISTS: Brenda Gutierrez (Sacramento), Jasmine Jones (Vacaville), Raquel Miller (San Francisco), Jamie Mitchell (Pacific Grove), Casey Morton (San Francisco), Marina Ramirez (Sacramento), Becky Villagran (Oakland)
 
PRO FIGHT OF THE YEAR
For the most exciting, competitive professional bout in 2012 from start to finish involving at least one Northern California fighter

FINALISTS: Manuel Avila TKO8 Ricky Lopez, Jonathan Garcia KO1 Pedro Arcos, Robert Guerrero UD12 Andre Berto, Alonso Loeza TKO3 Juan Martinez, Roman Morales UD8 Jonathan Arrellano, Joel Diaz Jr. TKO7 Guy Robb, Ulises Soriano D4 Gabriel Pineda

AMATEUR FIGHT OF THE YEAR
For the most exciting, competitive amateur fight in 2012 from start to finish involving at least one Northern California fighter (Senior Open division only)
 
FINALISTS: Brenda Gutierrez dec. Tatiana Almaraz, Mark Hernandez dec. Daniel Thomas, Paola Estrada dec. Casey Morton, Gary Salazar dec. Mario Ayala

ROUND OF THE YEAR
For the most exciting, competitive pro round in 2012 from the opening to final bell

FINALISTS: Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto (Rd. 12), Glenn Donaire-Omar Salado (Rd. 11), Jonathan Garcia-Pedro Arcos (Rd. 1), Guy Robb-Joel Diaz Jr. (Rd. 4), Ulises Soriano-Gabriel Pineda (Rd. 4)

KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
For the most spectacular, stunning, and sensational pro knockout or referee stoppage of 2012 by a Northern California fighter
 
FINALISTS: Nonito Donaire KO3 Jorge Arce, Nonito Donaire TKO9 Toshiaki Nishioka, Vicente Escobedo TKO1 Lonnie Smith, Karim Mayfield TKO5 Raymond Serrano, Moris Rodriguez KO2 Bret De La Torre, Alan Sanchez TKO1 Artemio Reyes, Andre Ward TKO10 Chad Dawson

PRO TRAINER OF THE YEAR
For the pro trainer based in Northern California who has accomplished the most in 2012 with his/her fighter(s) from both a strategic standpoint and through individual development

FINALISTS: Ben Bautista (San Francisco), Eddie Croft (San Mateo), Max Garcia (Salinas), Ruben Guerrero (Gilroy), Virgil Hunter (Hayward), Rick Noble (Watsonville), Brian Schwartz (San Carlos)

AMATEUR TRAINER OF THE YEAR
For the amateur trainer based in Northern California who has accomplished the most in 2012 with his/her fighter(s) from both a strategic standpoint and through individual development
 
FINALISTS: Ben Bautista (San Francisco), Marcus Caballero (Sacramento), Rob Fernandez (San Francisco), Blanca Gutierrez (Pacifica), Candy Lopez (San Jose), Armando Mancinas (Avenal), Rudy Puga Sr. (Salinas), Gilbert Salazar (Fresno)

COLLEGIATE FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
For the collegiate fighter who has achieved the most success in 2012

FINALISTS: Oscar Gomez (San Jose State), Jay Jimenez (Cal), Juan Ramos (Cal), Nargis Shaghasi (USF), Colin Schmitt (UC Davis)

PROSPECT OF THE YEAR
For the most accomplished pro fighter in 2012 who has not yet won a regional belt (minimum 8 bouts)

FINALISTS: Manuel Avila (Fairfield), Jonathan Chicas (San Francisco), Bruno Escalante (San Carlos), Jonathan Garcia (Watsonville), Oscar Godoy (Watsonville), Brandon Gonzales (Sacramento), Omar Henry (Oakland), Stan Martyniouk (Antelope), Guy Robb (Sacramento), Alan Sanchez (Fairfield)

PRO EVENT OF THE YEAR
For the most entertaining, well-promoted Northern California-based pro show in 2012; main event listed

FINALISTS: Vicente Escobedo-Lonnie Smith (May 12), Otis Griffin-Adam Collins (Aug. 24), Robert Guerrero-Selcuk Aydin (July 28), Yoshihiro Kamegai-Jorge Silva (Oct. 6), Paul Mendez-Lester Gonzalez (Dec. 15), James Page-Rahman Yusubov (Nov. 18), Andre Ward-Chad Dawson (Sept. 8)

AMATEUR EVENT OF THE YEAR
For the most entertaining, well-promoted Northern California-based amateur show in 2012

FINALISTS: Aleman Boxing Independence Day Show (July 7), Beautiful Brawlers 2 (Aug. 25), King’s Gym Holiday Showdown (Dec. 8), Northern California Junior Olympics (Apr. 22), Pacific Ring’s Showdown in Oakland 8 (Nov. 10), United Combat Association’s Battle of the Badges (Mar. 31), Velarde’s T.C. Show (Aug. 11)

CROWD OF THE YEAR
For the pro or amateur venue with the best overall atmosphere and fanbase of 2012

FINALISTS: Aleman Boxing Club (Fresno), Fairfield Sports Complex, HP Pavilion (San Jose), King’s Gym (Oakland), Oracle Arena (Oakland), Pacifica Moose Lodge, S.F. Ring of Fire, Sacramento Doubletree Hotel, Sacramento Four Points by Sheraton, Velarde’s Training Center (Fresno), Woodland Community Center

COMEBACK FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
For the male or female fighter, professional or amateur, who has best overcome adversity away from the ring in 2012 to achieve unexpected success
 
FINALISTS: Glenn Donaire (San Leandro), Robert Guerrero (Gilroy), Stan Martyniouk (Antelope), Carina Moreno (Watsonville), James Page (Pittsburg), Andre Ward (Oakland)

ROLE MODEL OF THE YEAR
For the fighter most exemplary to the Northern California community in 2012

FINALISTS: Vicente Escobedo (Woodland), Robert Guerrero (Gilroy), Ava Knight (Chico), Karim Mayfield (San Francisco), Paul Mendez (Salinas), Andre Ward (Oakland)

UPSET OF THE YEAR
For the most improbable and impactful win by a Northern California underdog in 2012

FINALISTS: Antwon Abron-Joseph Mitchell, Jonathan Alcantara-Walter Sarnoi, Robert Guerrero-Andre Berto, Karim Mayfield-Mauricio Herrera, Melissa McMorrow-Susi Kentikian, Carina Moreno-Susi Kentikian, Moris Rodriguez-Jonathan Chicas, Alan Sanchez-Artemio Reyes

MANAGER/ADVISER OF THE YEAR
For the Northern California-based manager/adviser who has done the most to put his/her fighter(s) in the best position to succeed in 2012 (minimum one show in the region)
 
FINALISTS: Ben Bautista (San Francisco), Eddie Croft (San Mateo), Kathy Garcia (Salinas), Repo Ric (Sacramento), Bob Santos (San Jose/Gilroy), Herb Stone/Johnny Nava (San Francisco)

PRO PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
For the professional promoter who has done the most for Northern California fans in 2012

FINALISTS: Don Chargin/Paco Presents, Golden Boy, Goossen Tutor, O.P.P. Presents, Paul Nave, Uppercut Promotions

AMATEUR PROMOTER OF THE YEAR
For the amateur promoter/gym who has done the most for Northern California fans in 2012

FINALISTS: Aleman Boxing (Fresno), Blanca Gutierrez/BabyFace (Pacifica), Caballero’s B.C. (Sacramento), Pacific Ring Sports (Oakland), United Combat Assocation (California), Velarde’s T.C. (Fresno)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
For the person in the sport, participant or non-participant, who most deserves recognition for their contribution to Northern California boxing  

FINALISTS: Paris Alexander (San Francisco), Michael Dallas Sr. (Bakersfield), Charles King (Oakland), Candy Lopez (San Jose), Paul Nave (San Rafael)


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.



Nuggets' Malone plays what if game with Kings, takes jab at ownership

Nuggets' Malone plays what if game with Kings, takes jab at ownership

SACRAMENTO -- It seems like yesterday that Michael Malone was leading a Sacramento Kings team featuring DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay into battle every night. Less than three years later, only Gay remains with the franchise and he’s out for the season with a torn left Achilles. 

Thomas left in a lopsided trade that yielded Sacramento Alex Oriakhi and a trade exception during the summer of 2014. Malone was let go with an 11-13 record 24 games into the 2014-15 campaign after Cousins went down with a bout of viral meningitis. Cousins is now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans following a blockbuster trade on Sunday.

“I always go back and think - ‘what could have happened if myself, DeMarcus, Isaiah, a healthy Rudy, if we were all together?,’” Malone told a small group of reporters before shootaround on Thursday. “We’ll never know, but I like to think that a lot of positive things would have happened, because I felt like we had something good going here. And it wasn’t to be.”

Malone’s reputation as a defense-minded coach played into his firing. At the time, owner Vivek Ranadivé used musical metaphors to describe what he was looking for in his next head coach.

“We had a Sousa marching band, which was needed when there was chaos, but now we need to shift to a jazz band, where people can be individually showcased and improvised,” Ranadivé said. “What we need is a jazz director.”

Malone is back in Sacramento Thursday night as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets and he’s looking for his first win against his former club in his fifth opportunity. He also heads a group that leads the Kings by a game and a half in the standings and boasts the NBA’s fourth highest scoring average at 110.6 points per game. 

“I can’t remember all the things that were said when I was fired, because there was so much being said,” Malone stated. “But I know one of the things that was being said was ‘style of play.’ There were people that were not in my corner that used that as a way to get me fired. Now we’re one of the highest scoring teams in NBA.”

“I look at you people, you were wrong,” a smiling Malone added while looking directly into a news camera. 

Known for his ability to connect to Cousins, Malone was as shocked as anyone to hear that the Kings traded the talented 26-year-old. The two have remained close, despite no longer working together.

“That was definitely a surprise over All-Star break,” Malone said. “Surprise for me, even a bigger surprise for him from what I understand.”

Malone has very little time to worry about his former player. He has to prepare his Nuggets team for a new-look Kings roster that has played a gritty, hard-nosed style all season long. With 26 games remaining, his team sits in the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase and they face a team that is backed into a cormer.

“They have a chip on their shoulder,” Malone said. “You make a big trade like that and I’m sure the players in that locker room are going to say, ‘Everybody’s writing us off because we don’t have DeMarcus.’ They’re going to come out and try and prove everybody wrong. They beat Boston, a very good team, without DeMarcus, and I’m sure that’s the model they’re going to try to use moving forward.”

A straight shooter through and through, Malone spoke on a variety of topics before heading out to the floor to prep his team for the 7:30 start at Golden 1 Center. 

“I just want to get a win, period,” Malone said. “The grudge is gone, this is part of the business. I knew the rules when I signed up, I really did.”

Malone understood the reality of taking over a fledgling franchise under new ownership and management when he took the Kings job. Sacramento gave him his first head coaching opportunity in the league, which he is grateful for, but his departure was anything but clean. The grudge might be gone, but those who covered Malone during his time with the Kings know full-well that playing this franchise will always be personal. 

Power of science: Warriors thriving with chemistry experiment

Power of science: Warriors thriving with chemistry experiment

OAKLAND -- Zaza Pachulia holds his own during competitive games of poker on the airplane alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson - they call it the "Good Guys Table." Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee, one-time teammates with Denver reunited in Oakland, hold secret chats.

"We're building an empire," Iguodala joked. "We've got secret stuff we can't talk about."

Jonnie West - son of Hall of Famer and Warriors executive Jerry West - joins Curry, Pachulia and Thompson for their card games.

"It depends how Klay feels. If he's tired, then no card game," Pachulia said.

With all that was made before the season about adding Kevin Durant to an already star-studded roster, Golden State's players have jelled just fine. The NBA-best Warriors (47-9) are gearing up for the second half and what they hope is another championship run, and chemistry sure isn't holding them back.

Two-time reigning MVP Curry and KD love to watch each other accomplish amazing things on the floor, along with Draymond Green and Thompson and all of the others who contribute off the bench.

Curry initially allowed Durant to find his groove, then began to assert himself more and increase his shots. Experience playing together is the biggest factor to keep building team bonds, if you ask Iguodala.

"Weathering storms builds chemistry and adversity builds chemistry," he said. "The season's long and you want to have all types of ups and downs. And that's where you build it the most, and off the court, plane rides. I think when you play with teammates seven, eight years, you're still building throughout that time. You continue to learn about each other. You've just got to understand that that's part of the process and you've got to want to learn from one another."

The Warriors are counting on every advantage they can gain, on and off the court. During flights, team dinners, anywhere.

After a heartbreaking Game 7 to end last season's NBA Finals, Golden State's players want nothing short of a championship. Many of them got a taste winning the title two years ago for the franchise's first in 40 years.

Steve Kerr, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, gets a kick out of watching his teams come together each year.

"It's one of my favorite parts of coaching honestly, is seeing how a team comes together, seeing the relationships develop, seeing guys laughing together, seeing who hangs out with who," Kerr said. "It's great. This team has a really, really good chemistry that developed really quickly. Obviously, we had the core group intact from last year. We lost some key guys, too. The additions have been great. The chemistry is really good."

Pachulia took it upon himself to be a part of that. With constant attention on the Warriors, he knows the importance of sticking together through all of the many challenges that come in an 82-game season - and those things prepare a group for the postseason.

"You wish for the chemistry to come right away because you're kind of feeling pressure, a lot of talk's going on from outside," Pachulia said. "The reality is it's a process. It takes some days, it takes some games. It takes some bumps as well for the team to get on the same page and get the chemistry right. You've got to go through the process. I just don't see it the other way. We couldn't wait for these 40 or 50 games to pass and see where we were going to be. I feel really confident where we are right now, with everything we had throughout this 50 games, even the losses we had unexpected. It made us better, it made us stronger. You can appreciate it, honestly. We care about each other. We're on the same page. Keep going. We're not going to stop."

For Iguodala and McGee, the "chatter" stays between them.

"I have a lot of really in-depth conversations with JaVale McGee," Iguodala said, "about life."