HBO Boxing Year End Picks: Trainer of the Year

Photo: Will Hart

Photo: Will Hart

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, HBO Boxing Insiders are taking a look back at 2014. Here, they make their selections for the best trainer whose fighters appeared on the network this year:

More: HBO Boxing Year End Picks

Kieran Mulvaney: John David Jackson

Not for a body of work with one or more fighters over the course of the year, but for one specific game plan for one particular fight. Sergey Kovalev entered the ring against Bernard Hopkins in Atlantic City in November with a well-earned reputation as a seek-and-destroy knockout artist, while the 49-year-old Hopkins had spent decades between the ropes honing his pugilistic skills. But, while his first-round knockdown, and twelfth-round pummeling, of the old master dominated the highlight reels, what happened in rounds 2 through 11 was in many ways even more remarkable. Kovalev resisted Hopkins’ efforts to walk into counterpunches, and fought a restrained, disciplined fight that left even the wily veteran bereft of answers. It was a masterful plan, perfectly executed by Kovalev, but conceived by Jackson.

Eric Raskin: Freddie Roach

I know, it’s a boring pick. But with two protégés who both had outstanding years at the elite level in Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, I have to give Roach the slight edge over Abel Sanchez and John David Jackson. Jackson had the singular game plan of the year in Kovalev’s fight against Hopkins, but Roach beats him here on volume.

Hamilton Nolan: John David Jackson

He took Kovalev from a Russian unknown to (my pick for) fighter of the year.

Nat Gottlieb: John David Jackson

There are bigger household names but Jackson took Kovalev to the next level and his game plan against Hopkins was flawless. Maybe one of the most underrated trainers on the planet.

Oliver Goldstein: Freddie Roach

Predictable, perhaps, but who had a better year than Freddie Roach? Manny Pacquiao avenged his loss to Timothy Bradley and thrashed Chris Algieri, while Miguel Cotto is the middleweight champion.

Some pretty handy stuff.

Tim Smith: Abel Sanchez

He has taken some very combustible raw material in Gennady Golovkin and shaped it into an explosive package.

Diego Morilla: Brian "BoMac" McIntyre

Sometimes it’s refreshing to hear things other than “Go for it!” or “Show some balls up there!” from a corner man. And that’s exactly what we’re not hearing in Terence Crawford’s corner in between rounds. Instead, we hear strategic advice, tactical comments, correcting errors and, yes, a healthy but limited dose of the usual alpha-male cheerleading. That, among many things, is what makes McIntyre one of the most interesting trainers to watch, as the head trainer of a well-balanced group that brings advice above attitude in the corner of one of boxing’s most pleasant surprises of 2014.

Michael Gluckstadt: John David Jackson

You may not know this, but Bernard Hopkins tends to talk a lot before a fight. One of the more effective pieces of trash talk before his fight with Sergey Kovalev was calling out Jackson, Kovalev's trainer, who had lost to Hopkins as a fighter in 1999: "How is someone who I beat going to tell Kovalev how to beat me?" He must have figured something out, because Jackson put together the perfect blueprint for not just beating Hopkins, but frankly, embarrassing him. The (much) older fighter didn't win a single round in a fight that established Kovalev as the light heavyweight to beat.